Chronic Constipation Diet Plan: Do’s and Don’ts!
Thinking about a chronic constipation diet? You are not alone. According to UCLA, chronic constipation is defined as a recurrence of the constipation symptoms that are more severe in nature than occasional bouts or slow bowel elimination. While the regularity of each person differs, in those with chronic constipation bowel movements occur less than three times each week and are accompanied by some symptoms of the chronic condition. Straining and struggling to pass stool and a feeling of fullness can also occur.
In the most acute cases, constipation relief requires little more than a psyllium bulking agent of over the counter remedy from the pharmacy. Additionally, other medicinal measures such as suppositories or enemas can be used for brief bouts of blocked bottoms. However, in chronic cases, relief requires a much more dedicated treatment approach that most often centers around the diet.
DO: Hydrate the Highway with Lots of Water! Water is essential to any healthy diet, but for those on a chronic constipation diet eager to stave off the recurrences, it is absolutely critical. Water keeps the stool from becoming too dry and hard, which can lead to difficulty while trying to pass it. This can also result in discomfort and straining during bowel movements. And, while ensuring proper hydration is very important, there are certain types of liquid refreshment that should be avoided. According to Mayo Clinic, caffeine can actually exacerbate the symptoms of constipation because it promotes dehydration. This can lead to more toilet time, discomfort, stomach bloating and cramping. A reduction in caffeine intake can help the body use the fluids it takes in more effectively, averting both the symptoms of dehydration and constipation, which can go hand in hand.
DON’T: Consume Constipators! A chronic constipation diet does not mean that you have to give up all the foods you love, but there are some that can be detrimental to a diet targeted at digestive system regulation. Most of these are foods that are very low in fiber, and should be very limited in a diet for constipation. Dairy products such as cheeses and heavy creams may potentially bring about a case of constipation and, foods that are excessively fatty or packed with sugar should also be avoided for the same reasons. Food that is over processed should also be abstained from when possible as part of a diet for constipation prevention.
DO: Exercise Bowel Muscles! Exercise has multiple positive effects on the digestive system. It helps to stimulate and activate the muscles that are used to control the bowels, which can make evacuation easier. Exercise helps in another way as well, however. WebMD notes that physical activity can actually reduce the amount of time that food hangs about in the large intestine; in short, it hurries things along. What this means is that the food has less time to be subjected to the water robbing effects of the colon, which can produced drier and harder stool that is more difficult to pass. Incorporating healthy doses of physical activity into any chronic constipation diet is important to helping keep the bowels functioning properly.
DON’T: Skimp on Fiber Filled Sustenance! One of the most important parts of any diet geared towards achieving gastrointestinal regularity is to increase the amount of fiber filled foods in the diet. Mayo Clinic states that between 20 and 35 grams of fiber daily should be the goal, and of course the exact amount will vary from person to person. Many of the foods that can be added in for fiber fixes are also considered great foods to prevent constipation and include dried fruits, beans, whole grains, and vegetables. They should be incorporated into regular meals slowly and one at a time, however, if they are particularly fiber filled like artichokes, in order to prevent symptoms like bloating and stomach gas.
DO: Manage Meal Times! There are many parts to a chronic constipation diet, and it is not all about what you eat and what you do not eat. Another factor to consider is when you eat. While not everyone can eat at the same times each day, making an attempt to do so can help your body get regular and get on a schedule. This is also useful for combating chronic constipation in children, who notoriously eat when convenient and not always three square meals a day.
DON’T: Bring Along Bad Habits! Mayo Clinic warns against resisting the urge to use the bathroom when needed, and withholding can be a cause of constipation. Changes in schedule, travel and stress can all impact the functioning of the bowels and not kicking bad habits like withholding and not tending to the body’s signals when stressed or things are out of the ordinary can be very counterproductive to a chronic constipation diet. Go when you need to go so that dietary and lifestyle changes have the best chance of providing benefit.