Ways To Prevent Constipation

8 ways to prevent/ease constipation

Lose weight from your waist

Your lifestyle and eating habits greatly affect your digestion, and it’s common to get symptoms of constipation. But there’s plenty you can do to prevent or ease the problem.

Tips for constipation relief

Don’t eat in a rush

Wolfing down food means it isn’t chewed properly. The gut then has to process larger pieces, which takes longer and can cause constipation symptoms. It takes, on average, six-to-eight hours for food to pass through your stomach and small intestine, and around 53 hours to pass from mouth to toilet. Eat slowly – you’ll enjoy your food more, too.

Drink up

Water helps lubricate your digestive system and allows the smooth passage of food through the digestive tract keeping constipation symptoms at bay. It also keeps stools soft, so it’s important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Aim to drink at least one-and-a-half litres of water a day and reduce hydration ‘robbers’ such as caffeine, alcohol and fizzy or sugary drinks.

Get regular exercise

The quicker you burn calories, the faster your metabolic rate will be, so the quicker you’ll convert food into energy. Staying active also helps stimulate the bowel, which speeds up transit time for food, avoiding constipation.

Look at your diet

What we eat influences the digestive process and certain foods can cause constipation. Fruit and vegetables are digested more easily than meat, which can sit in the stomachs of those with poor digestion for hours, and undigested protein can irritate the gut lining. Dietary fibre comes from plant-based foods – vegetables, fruit, legumes and wholegrains – and helps to bulk up stools so they move easily through your digestive tract, so eat plenty.

Get into a good bowel habit

Never ignore the urge to go to the toilet: the longer you put it off, the harder the stools become and the more constipated you’ll be.

Have breakfast

This helps the colon start to contract, so can help regulate your bowel habit, avoiding constipation. Try porridge with a sprinkling of nuts and fresh fruit or rye toast topped with a nut butter and mashed banana. Limit caffeine: have a glass of juice or soy milk instead.  

Try magnesium

Constipation can be related to low magnesium levels. Fill up on magnesium-rich green leafy veg, beans, lentils and wholegrains (good fibre foods) or try a supplement. Also, bathe in Epsom salts – your body can absorb the magnesium in them through the skin.

Take a natural approach

Psyllium husks act to soften the stool making it easier to pass. Capsicum has been shown to have a gentle stimulant effect on digestive function and so providing constipation relief.

This article has been adapted from longer features appearing in Healthy, the Holland & Barrett magazine. Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.

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