BY FRANK CALIENDO M.D.
Most patients experience constipation at some point in their life. Constipation can cause bloating and abdominal discomfort, among other symptoms. It is important for patients that experience chronic constipation to find treatment that will provide relief and encourage healthy and more regular bowel movements.
In some cases, medication or surgery may be necessary to treat the source of chronic constipation. However, some patients can alleviate constipation symptoms and prevent further issues by making some simple lifestyle changes.
Here, the doctors at Colon & Rectal Surgical Specialists of New York discuss lifestyle changes that can treat constipation.
Increase Fiber Intake
Fiber is vital to healthy, regular bowel movements. Insufficient fiber intake is one of the leading causes of constipation. Most people see an improvement in constipation symptoms once they make a conscious effort to increase their fiber intake.
The best sources of fiber include fruits and vegetables, such as pears, apples, avocados, berries, broccoli, and artichokes. Whole grains and lentils are other good sources of fiber. This includes foods such as kidney beans, split peas, chickpeas, oats, and popcorn.
Drink More Water
Nearly every part of the body requires water to function at its best, and the colon is no exception. It is generally recommended that people consume around eight cups, or 64 ounces of water, each day.
Unfortunately, few people meet this recommendation. Patients may not consume sufficient fluids, or they choose high-sugar drinks like juices and sodas, instead of water, when they are thirsty. By replacing other beverages with water and meeting daily water intake recommendations, many people are able to alleviate constipation.
A sedentary lifestyle is a common cause of constipation. If you want to encourage healthy movement within the digestive tract, you need to get the rest of the body active.
Exercise decreases the amount of time that it takes for food to pass through the large intestine, limits the amount of water that is absorbed from the stool, and stimulates muscle contractions within the intestines, all of which lead to healthier and more regular bowel movements.
While aerobic exercises like running, swimming, and dancing are great for colon health, even a 10- to 15-minute walk is beneficial, especially if it is taken an hour after a meal.
Listen to Your Body’s Cues
It may seem obvious, but one of the best ways to avoid constipation is to go to the bathroom as soon as there is an urge to make a bowel movement. Too frequently, people resist going to the bathroom because they are busy with work, preoccupied by other responsibilities, or not in a location that they feel comfortable using the bathroom. This can make stools more difficult to pass.
If healthy lifestyle changes have been ineffective in relieving constipation symptoms, you may require medical treatment. The experienced doctors at Colon & Rectal Surgical Specialists of New York can diagnose the cause of chronic constipation, and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. To learn more, contact us online at your earliest convenience or call us to schedule an appointment at one of our New York offices.