Constipation – the inability to pass stool regularly and comfortably – is a common condition among all ages and sexes in the United States, but tends to concentrate in kids and older adults. In fact, up to 33% of adults aged 60 and over have symptoms of constipation, such as stool that feels stuck or is too hard to pass.
If you’ve suffered through one bout of constipation, you don’t want another. Luckily, in most instances, constipation can be traced to diet and lifestyle factors, including medications. Even in instances when it’s caused by a motility disorder or other functional problem, a healthy diet helps.
At Colon and Rectal Surgeons of Greater Hartford, our team wants you to stay regular. Whether you’ve had constipation or not, we recommend dietary and lifestyle changes to keep your digestive system in top shape.
Would you like to improve or end constipation through diet alone? Try these steps to see how they “move” you.
Fill up with fiber
One of the best things about a constipation diet is that you can happily fill up your plate with colorful, flavorful, fiber-rich foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories. While you can buy over-the-counter fiber supplements, such as psyllium, to stir in your smoothies, the best and most satisfying way to add in fiber is with actual, natural food.
Whenever possible, opt for whole grains instead of refined grains to help keep your system regular. Sprouted wheat breads, oatmeal, and buckwheat can be new additions to your diet that add flavor, variety, and texture to every meal.
Beans and peanuts are packed with protein, but with fiber, too. If you find them hard to digest, opt for fermented or sprouted varieties. Just toss a few on your salads, or whip them up into a dip, such as hummus, that you can scoop up with the next category: Veggies.
Both cooked and raw vegetables should take a prominent place in every plate, from morning to night. Become a master chef and get creative with your salads. Add veggies to soups, stews, and sauces. You can even whip them in the blender to easily add them to your recipes.
Fresh fruit is a wonderful, fiber-rich and nutrient-rich way to end a meal. Consider focusing on low-glycemic fruits, such as berries and some citrus. Some fruits, such as watermelon, contain so much water they can practically pass as a drink.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are packed with protein, healthy fats … and fiber. Add nuts and seeds to salads, breakfast cereals, and yogurt. Or just have a small handful as a snack.
Love your liquids
Staying hydrated is key for overall good health, and that includes digestion. Your gastrointestinal (GI) system needs sufficient water to produce soft, easily passable stool. Concentrate on healthy liquids, such as:
- Plain water
- Clear soup
- Vegetable juice
- Diluted fruit juice
- Fruit-or-veggie infused water
Avoid carbonated water and drinks, which may create gas in your GI system. Drink at least eight cups of water per day, but add more if you’re thirsty, sweat a lot, or exercise.
Avoid the “bad” stuff
Unfortunately, many of the “foods” you’ve become acclimated (or even addicted) to are not only bad for overall health, but can also contribute to constipation. As you add in delicious, fiber-rich foods, cut down on and eventually eliminate:
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Trans fats
- Fried foods
- Refined grains
- Processed foods
If your constipation doesn’t improve with diet, or if you haven’t had a bowel movement for several days, call us at 860-242-8591 for an evaluation and treatment today. You can also schedule your appointment online at our Bloomfield, South Windsor, or Plainville, Connecticut, clinics.