NETfacts: Natural Health Products, Self-care

Five solutions for constipation

Constipation is not typically a topic of conversation at the office water cooler, but it is an uncomfortable condition that happens to about 25% of us at some point. In most cases, the cause of constipation is due to a lack of fibre and fluids, not exercising regularly and mental health issues such as stress, depression and anxiety. So if you happen to find yourself backed-up at some point, the following five solutions may help move things along:

1. Consumer more fibre
It is recommended that adults consume 25-50 grams of fibre each day. Some of the best sources of fibre can be found in cereal with wheat germ or bran, whole grain breads, fresh fruit (especially berries), dried fruit (prunes and figs), vegetables and legumes (chickpeas, kidney and black beans, and lentils). If you are not accustomed to a high fibre diet, gradually increase your intake to avoid gas and diarrhea.

2. Drink more water
Drinking plenty of water is important to staying hydrated, but it also lubricates the intestines and moistens the food you consume, which helps it flow through your body. It is recommended to drink approximately eight 8oz glasses of water each day.

3. Get some exercise
To help prevent constipation, and for your overall health, you should attempt to be active at least three times a week for 30 minutes or more. In addition to the many health benefits of exercise, it also stimulates your intestinal muscles to work more efficiently and decreases the amount of time needed for food to pass through your intestines, keeping stools moist and easier to pass.

4. Reduce stress
Our brains control all body functions, including bowel movements – so if your brain is under stress, so is your bowel. To make matters worse, when we are stressed we tend to eat more comforting (and unhealthy) foods than we should and are not as likely to exercise – all contributing factors to constipation. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, try going for a walk or doing yoga to relax and try to avoid binging on unhealthy foods.

5. Maintain a regular routine
A regular routine of diet and exercise are key to keeping your body healthy and functioning as it should. Bowel movements occur based on your internal clock and when you ignore the urge to go, there is more time for water to be extracted from the stools, making them more difficult to pass. By keeping a regular routine of diet and exercise, you will also keep a regular bowel routine!

Keep moving and stay healthy self-care lovers!

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 /