Constipation is defined as having less than 4 bowel movements per week, or straining to have a bowel movement, or having hard stool that is difficult to pass. Stool should be formed smooth like a sausage.
–Not getting enough fiber or fluid in your diet
–Not getting enough physical activity in your day
–Stress, depression, anxiety
–Iron or calcium supplements
–Certain medications, such as opioids, antihistamines, and diuretics
–Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis
–Pelvic floor dysfunction
–An abnormality in your gastrointestinal tract
–Women up to age 50 need 25 grams of fiber per day
–Older women need 21 grams of fiber per day
–Men up to age 50 need 38 grams of fiber per day
–Older men need 31 grams of fiber per day
TO ADD FIBER
–Buy grain products such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta and crackers that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
–Eat 2-4 servings of fruits per day and eat 3-5 servings of vegetables per day.
–A serving of vegetables is 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw.
–A serving of fruit is 1 apple or orange, 1 cup of berries or melon, 2 tbsp dried fruit, 1/2 cup canned fruit or 1/2 cup 100% juice. Prune juice especially has been shown to help with constipation.
–Good sources of fiber are apples, pears, oranges, plums, prunes, kiwis, oatmeal, oat bran cereal, beans, and lentils.
–A fiber supplement can be used, such as Benefiber, which provides 3 grams of soluble fiber per 2 tsp.
Drinking enough fluid promotes regularity. 6-8 cups of fluid per day (preferably water) should be sufficient.
ACTIVITY AND STRESS
–30 minutes of exercise per day, such as walking, running, dancing, pilates, or yoga can help promote regular bowel movements and reduce stress.
–15-30 minutes per day doing an activity that you find relaxing, such as talking with a friend, journaling, reading, watching a show, or listening to music, can reduce stress and promote regular bowel movements.
–Going to the bathroom when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, and not waiting, can promote regularity.