Nearly everyone deals with the occasional bout of constipation, and in most cases it sorts itself out within a few days. But for millions of Americans, constipation is an ongoing problem. Chronic constipation generally means having three or fewer weekly bowel movements over the course of several weeks or months, but it can also refer to difficulty or straining to pass stool.
There are several lifestyle changes that can help fight chronic constipation and get the digestive system back in working order. Try making some of these changes before you reach for the medication or laxatives:
Drink more water
Dehydration is a common cause of constipation, so it’s important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to keep things moving. Try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, and make sure to increase your water intake if you exercise. Limit energy drinks, coffee and alcohol, which are diuretics and can make constipation worse.
The recommended daily fiber intake is 25 to 35 grams, but most Americans only consume about 15 grams. Try adding more fiber-rich foods to your diet such as fruits, vegetables, lentils, nuts and whole grains. Prunes and figs are excellent options because they contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that has a laxative effect.
Exercise increases blood flow to the stomach and intestines, which aids in digestion. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, and remember to drink plenty of water!
Stress, depression and anxiety can all contribute to constipation, so it’s important to take time every day to unwind. If you’re prone to stress, try practicing some relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga or deep breathing. Achieving mental balance could help restore balance to your digestive system.
Visit your doctor
It’s always wise to visit your doctor if you notice a change in bowel habits, so be sure to schedule an appointment if constipation doesn’t clear up on its own. Chronic constipation could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition such as hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome or colon cancer. Your doctor will be able to review your medical history and perform any necessary tests to determine the cause of your constipation (Source: Fox News).