How to Stop Constipation

By Fritz Mequiabas, RN,  BSN

How to stop constipation

Straining during defection and fewer bowel movements are both signs of constipation.

According to the statistics of National Digestive Information Clearinghouse, there are 4 million individuals in the United States who suffer from frequent constipation.

Though this number may be a bit alarming, constipation is considered temporary and usually can be alleviated with simple interventions.

Add fiber to the diet

When there is enough fiber in the diet, food can pass more easily through the colon, making for easier elimination.

However, if fiber is not present, bowel habits tends to be sluggish and defecation may become painful. This is why individuals are advised to eat more fiber rich foods

Unlike carbohydrates, proteins and fats, dietary fiber, also called “roughage”, is not digested by the body.

When consumed, the fiber will pass relatively intact through the digestive system, mixed with other wastes. The role of dietary fiber is to increase the size and weight of stool to better stimulate peristalsis.

Fiber also helps to retain moisture in the stool, which softens it. On the other hand, if a person has loose and watery stools, fiber will help it solidify by absorbing water and adding bulk.

Dietary fiber is not just beneficial for normal bowel function, it also helps in maintaining good bowel health. According to research, having a high fiber diet may help do the following:

  • Lower the risk of hemorrhoids, diverticulitis and colorectal cancer

  • Lower cholesterol

  • Control blood sugar levels 

  • Help one to achieve a healthy weight

Therefore, eating high fiber rich foods can help you achieve better health. 

All plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts and whole grains contain fiber.

According to the American Dietetic Association, the recommended daily dose of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.

Individuals who are 50 years old and above need less fiber, usually 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men.

Unfortunately, many individuals don’t get enough fiber in their diet. In another article.I discuss the best foods to eat for how to help stop constipation.

Hydrate well

Dehydration is a major cause of constipation. Without enough fluids in the body, stools will become hard, dry and difficult to pass.

Therefore proper hydration is necessary to promote normal bowel movements.

The recommended intake of water per day is one to two liters per day, depending on body size, the weather and the amount of moisture lost through sweat.

If you are suffering from constipation, start with a full glass of water in the morning, then drink regularly throughout the day. A good goal is to drink between 8 and 10 glasses of water a day.

Hint: warm water is the best liquid to wash toxins from the body.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can be a great tool in how to stop constipation by stimulating the muscles and nerves in the gut.

Our digestive system becomes sluggish as we age, or when we live a sedentary lifestyle.

  • Regular exercise helps the intestinal muscles to contract more naturally and efficiently so that stools move more quickly through the colon.

  • When stool spends less time in the large intestine, the large intestine has less time to extract water from stool, which helps keep stool moist, soft and easier to be eliminated. 

Seeking medical advice

Constipation is simply a digestive problem that can usually be relieved with a modification in diet and lifestyle.

However, if constipation continues for more than three weeks, it is time to pay your doctor a visit.

To get things moving again, your doctor may prescribe a laxative. There may be an underlying cause of constipation that your doctor may help to identify to hopefully avoid the problem in the future.

Medical help is also needed when blood is present in the stool along with abdominal pain or rapid weight loss. 

Ease constipation with a magnesium supplement

Your doctor may recommend a magnesium supplement to help regulate bowel movements and ease constipation.

Magnesium is essential for our overall health, particularly in:

  • Muscle function

  • Blood pressure regulation

  • Maintaining normal heart rhythm

  • Blood sugar level regulation

  • Immune system function

Most of the magnesium we take is stored in our bones. The rest is used by various systems to help cells function normally.

It is reported that 80% of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diet. For these, a magnesium supplement may be beneficial.

Magnesium supplements tend to have a laxative effect

  • Magnesium relaxes the muscles in the intestines and helps establish a smooth peristaltic rhythm.

  • Magnesium attracts water in the colon to help moisten stool, making it softer and easier to pass.

Make sure to drink plenty of water when taking a magnesium supplement, since more water is drawn into the colon.

How to Stop Constipation - the Conclusion

Constipation can be treated in a number of ways.

Although there are laxatives, suppositories and enemas available, it is best to use the methods discussed above to deal with the problem.

If this is not enough help to stopping your constipation and your condition persists, please see your doctor.

(Return from How to Stop Constipation to How to Prevent Constipation)

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