Preventing Constipation

Follow these steps to avoid getting constipated

Preventing constipation is a daily responsibility which demands a multi-pronged approach, based on diet, exercise, and lifestyle.

Watch your diet

Eat a well-balanced diet, including sufficient quantities of high-fiber foods on a daily basis. Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that remains undigested by the body. When it enters the colon, it can soak up a large amount of water and make your stool soft, bulky and easy to pass. Such foods are necessary to prevent constipation as they provide the necessary roughage your body needs. In general, choose fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grain breads, and cereals. Avoid fatty, sugary, and low-fiber foods that cause constipation such as cheese, ice cream, white flour, and white rice.

Bran, in the form of cereal, is one of the best ways to include fiber and roughage in your diet. Wheat, rice, or oat bran, as well as whole grain breads and cereals are also desirable additions to your diet.

Fruits, such as apples, apricots, pears, grapes, peaches, plums, and apples should be eaten with the skin whenever possible. Fruits with high water content such as watermelon, papaya, and cantaloupe can also help. Bananas can lubricate the intestines. Dried fruits such as prunes and figs are also useful in keeping your bowel movements regular. Fruit juices have little or no fiber and should be avoided.

Most vegetables can help you avoid constipation. Raw vegetables are more useful in treating constipation than cooked vegetables. Some of the best vegetables for intestinal health include spinach, lettuce, celery, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, and okra. Vegetable juices have little or no fiber.

Drink plenty of liquids

Drinking 8-12 glasses of water a day is the best way to prevent constipation. It is also the most natural way. If you don't drink enough water, your body can become dehydrated. When this happens, you could end up with hard, dry stool, which makes it difficult for you to eliminate easily, leading to constipation.

There are many ways to prevent your body from ever getting dehydrated. It starts with being aware of the need for drinking the proper liquids throughout the day. Never wait until you are thirsty to have a drink of water. If you feel thirst, it means your body is already in a state of dehydration. Check the color of your urine – it should be clear and light-coloured, and you should be urinating frequently through the day. If not, you are not drinking enough.

A good idea is to make a habit of drinking a glass of warm water with a bit of lemon juice and a little honey, first thing in the morning. Do this even before you have your morning coffee or tea. Drink lots of water before, during, and after an exercise workout. If you're going to be exercising for more than half an hour, take along a bottle of water and have some sips along the way. You could even prep your body for a sports activity by drinking a pint of water a couple of hours before the event.

Remember that colas and coffee, or any liquids that contain caffeine, are diuretics which make you urinate more often and contribute to dehydration. If you drink alcohol, wine, or beer, remember that these drinks can also lead to dehydration. If you work at a computer for long hours, keep a bottle of water on your desk and take frequent water breaks. If you are on a high-protein diet, you will also need to drink more liquids.

On hot summer days, you will also have to drink more water. Many people turn to ice-cold colas and beers on such days, which may feel refreshing, but actually increase the likelihood of your becoming dehydrated. If you need to be outside in the sun, take some breaks, relax in the shade and drink lots of fluids.

Exercise Regularly

Fitness enables us to perform at our best. Even a little exercise can make a big difference by speeding up your metabolism. By maintaining a regular program of physical activity, you can not only tone your heart and lungs, but also prevent your system from becoming sluggish or constipation-prone. Specifically, physical activity helps prevent constipation by reducing the amount of time it takes for food to pass through the large intestine. By making your heart beat faster, aerobic exercise also helps the intestinal muscles to contract more efficiently.

If you don't have a routine exercise program, even walking for 15 minutes a day can improve the working of your digestive system. If you do exercise already, yoga, dancing, swimming or jogging are also excellent. It is best to wait for at least an hour after eating before doing any kind of physical activity. This gives your body time to digest your meal without interference, which could otherwise result in gas, bloating and stomach cramps.

Develop good bowel habits

No matter how busy your life, make time for relaxed visits to the bathroom. This is one of the most important ways to keep your bowels regular and to avoid the accumulation of fecal matter in your colon. Make your toilet a comfortable, attractive place in which you are glad to spend a little quiet time on your own. You can think, read a book or magazine, do a crossword puzzle, or anything else that helps you stay put for a short while.

Furthermore, respond promptly to the urge to defecate; don't delay emptying your bowels longer than necessary. If you ignore the body's natural urges to empty your bowels, it could lead to constipation, which is unpleasant, painful, and unnecessary.

Consider fiber supplements

For whatever reason, if your diet does not contain enough fiber and you tend to become constipated, consider taking fiber supplements . It is better to take over-the-counter fiber supplements such as Metamucil to keep your stool soft, bulky, and easy to pass than to run the risk of developing constipation regularly.

Avoid laxatives

The long-term, habitual use of laxatives can be addictive and dangerous. Avoid taking laxatives unless you absolutely have to. Use other approaches to deal with your constipation. Although laxatives can provide temporary relief from constipation, over the long term they can prevent your colon from functioning normally by interfering with the natural urge to empty your bowels.