When a person is not able to pass stool or has a low frequency of bowel movements, they have constipation. People with constipation are not able to empty their bowels completely. Most people have constipation only for a short period; however, there have been cases where people suffer from chronic constipation, which sometimes leads to other complications. This ailment affects people of all ages; however, it is more common among the senior population. It has been observed that women are more prone to constipation than men. This is because childbirth can be a contributing factor towards irregular bowel movements, which can cause constipation.
Other causes of constipation include lack of fiber in the diet, ignoring the sign of a bowel movement, medication side-effects, overconsumption of medications, inadequate fluid consumption, depression, or anxiety. Also, diets that are high in processed food and saturated fats can cause constipation. Although specific lifestyle and diet changes can help in treating constipation, it is best to incorporate a few prevention techniques into a daily routine if you are prone to constipation. This is because constipation not only creates physiological problems but also leads to emotional distress. Here are a few ways to prevent constipation.
- Avoid skipping meals: Skipping meals can be a deterrent for a regular bowel movement. Some people tend to eat only one large meal in a day. This can cause irregular bowel movements and make a person feel constipated. Eating complete regular meals causes digested food to move through the gut. This stimulates a proper bowel movement. It is essential to not skip breakfast, since this the first meal of the day that gets the digestive juices flowing each day. When you skip meals, nothing will move through the gut, and you will be unable to pass stool.
- Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables: One of the major causes of constipation is lack of fiber in the diet. Fiber, when taken in sufficient proportion, causes stools to become soft and leads to easy movement of stools through the system. Fiber regulates the bowel movement. Insoluble fiber helps to move substances through the digestive system. It adds bulk to the stool. Insoluble fiber is mostly found in parts of fruits and vegetables that are not digested or absorbed by the body. Cauliflower, potatoes, green beans, bananas, and so on are good sources of fiber. Making these a regular part of meals can help in the prevention of constipation.
- Slowly increase the quantity of fiber in your diet: Although fiber is essential for the prevention of constipation, suddenly increasing the amount of fiber in the diet can cause bloating and gas. This will aggravate the symptoms of constipation and lead to discomfort. Intake of a lot of fiber too soon may also cause diarrhea. Introduce fiber-rich food to the diet slowly. Doctors recommend that a daily intake of around 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories is essential for a regular and normal bowel movement. If the daily intake is not 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories, it is necessary to start eating small amounts of fiber (2 to 3 grams) daily, and then slowly increase the quantity to 14 grams over a period.
- Increase the intake of fluids: During constipation, the stools become hard. This is due to dehydration of the stools in the colon. In such cases, water from the large intestines is absorbed to rehydrate the body. The lack of fluids in the intestines makes smooth bowel movement difficult. Not drinking enough fluids is the cause of this problem. This problem may aggravate during hot and humid weather when a person loses water quickly due to sweat. It is necessary to drink sufficient quantity of water daily for the prevention of dehydration and constipation. It is recommended to drink approximately 64 ounces of water daily. This can be in the form of clear soups and natural fruit juices as well. Avoid alcohol, carbonated beverages, and caffeine as these trigger symptoms of constipation.
- Exercise regularly: An inactive lifestyle that lacks sufficient physical activity can trigger stress and anxiety, which are some of the major causes of constipation. A sedentary lifestyle can also cause the digestive system to slow down. Irregular bowel movement is a side effect of this kind of lifestyle. A regular exercise routine can help to keep stress at bay. Also, exercising daily for at least 30 minutes can keep the muscles of the intestine flexible. This will help in regular bowel movements and can be effective in the preventing constipation.
- Develop a regular bowel movement routine: Avoid resisting the urge to produce a bowel movement. Never hurry through your bowel movement routine. Ensure that you take your time and are relaxed. It is essential to keep the muscles of your intestines and colon relaxed to ensure smooth movement of stools.