(DailyTreasure.com) – Could your bowel movements be a bit more… regular? More comfortable to pass, even? The answer to both of those questions is a resounding “yes” for many people in this country. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), 16% of adult Americans suffer from constipation. That number increases to 33% in those aged 60 and over. That’s a lot of stopped-up bowels!
Do You Have These Symptoms of Constipation?
The NIDDK and Medical News Today report that these are the most common symptoms of constipation:
- Two or fewer bowel movements in a week
- Unusual stool size, shape, or texture (marble-sized, lumpy, dry, hard)
- Uncomfortable or even painful bowel movements
- Bright red blood in the toilet or on the toilet paper
- Difficulty passing the stool or feeling like it didn’t all pass
- Loss of appetite or feeling full all the time (because you are!)
Everyone’s diet, fluid consumption, activity level, medications, medical issues, and lifestyle are different. Occasional constipation might be expected as these factors change from day-to-day. However, if any of these symptoms of constipation are dragging on, you should probably see your doctor.
What Goes in Must Come Out
Unfortunately, constipation can make the exit process more difficult than it should be. You might be tempted to take laxatives to ease the process along a bit. However, there are better and safer options available. You just need to train your body to get the job done right.
1. Verywell health suggests planning a hearty breakfast, hot drink, and a relaxing bathroom trip at the same time each morning. Bowels generally work better with a routine and the food and hot drink will often get things moving.
2. Moving around more may get things moving on the inside too. Take a walk, do yoga, swim, or do whatever gets your body in motion. You just might be surprised by the results.
3. Head to the bathroom as soon as you feel an ‘urge’. If you try to put it off, you may end up with a blockage later.
4. MBG Health recommends resting your feet on a small stool when using the toilet. It puts your body in a more natural alignment for getting things flowing better.
It’s All About the Right Diet
A person’s bowel movements are often strongly linked to their diet. If healthy foods are going in, there’s a better chance that the remnants will come out sooner and be softer.
Better Bowel Movements Require Plenty of Moisture
5. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you’re dehydrated, your body can’t add enough water during the digestion process to form soft, easy-to-pass stools.
6. Drinking hot water with fatty meals will help disperse those saturated fats. The result? Better lubrication and no more hard clumps of fat that can contribute to constipation problems.
Add These Foods to Your Diet for Better Bowel Movements
7. Eat plenty of high-fiber foods. Beans of all sorts, whole grains, wheat bran, oatmeal, brown rice, vegetables, nuts, seeds… Anything that adds bulk will help prevent those small, hard stools that are so painful to pass.
8. Sprout those broccoli seeds! A 2017 study found that eating broccoli sprouts helped “normalize” bowel movements. Broccoli sprouts quickly and easily and can be used fresh in salads, sandwiches, smoothies, etc. They’re especially tasty wherever you might want a nice ‘radishey’ kick.
9. Juicy fruits like apples, berries, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapple, melons, and oranges pack a double punch for your gut. They’re high in water content and also provide lots of fiber. Eat them with the skin on whenever possible.
10. Follow Grandma’s advice and eat prunes (they’re delicious when stewed) or drink prune juice every day. Just remember that too much of such a good thing can cause a stool problem of a whole different kind!
11. Switch to unsaturated fats like those from avocados, olive oil, cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds. Not only are they heart-healthy, but they help lubricate your bowels so things keep moving along nicely.
The next time you’re waiting to ‘go’, check out your daily nugget of wisdom, advice, or just plain fun at Daily Treasure. Still having trouble? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our doctor. They’ll know what to do to get you back on the right track.
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