The Dreaded C Word: Constipation

Let’s face it: constipation is not a fun subject to talk about. Words like bloat, cramps, and gas are not exactly terms you’d be texting with friends. But in our rushed lives, we rarely find time to sit and relax, let alone to sit and…well, you know where this is going.

Let’s take a look at what constipation actually is and then we’ll figure out what you can do to prevent being troubled by its uncomfortable symptoms.

Constipation is defined as, “a condition in which a person has fewer than three bowel movements a week or has bowel movements with stools that are hard, dry, and small, making them painful or difficult to pass.” These symptoms often pair with abdominal pain and gastrointestinal distress and depending on the way your body works, they can occur rarely or daily. Herewith are 5 tips for battling constipation:

1. Veg out: By including fruits and veggies at each meal and snack and by filling half your plate with Mother Nature’s bounty at lunch and dinner, there’s a good chance you’ll make a dent in your fiber needs for the day.

2. Find fluids: Without enough liquid in your diet, the fiber you consume will act like a cork instead of a plunger. Shoot for at least eight glasses of water, the ultimate all-natural stool softener, each day.

3. Be-Wholed:  Increasing your fiber intake through whole grains is a delicious way to have a moving experience and to help keep you satisfied. Whole grain breads and cereals will keep you fuller longer, help reduce cholesterol levels, smooth our blood sugar levels, and boost your weight loss efforts.

4. Beat bloat: Unfortunately, some of the greatest offenders, like beans, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, are the foods that are the richest in nutrients, so totally avoiding such foods is not recommended.  You may want to consider taking a pass on your nightly frozen yogurt (which should be served with a topping of antacids) since this treat a major gas-producer! Ditching carbonated beverages could generate less belly bubbles, and avoid drinking through a straw or chewing gum so that you’ll swallow less air. The best bloat-beaters include drinking peppermint, chamomile, or ginger teas, and chewing on anise seeds or fennel.

5. Move it. Exercise gets things moving through your body to help you feel fit inside and out. Take a brisk walk, dance around your kitchen or jump up and down when your team scores a touchdown. Just do something to keep active.

If you experience any of the above issues, you might want to consult your health care provider but whatever you do, don’t rely on laxatives, pills, or potions as your road to relief. Recent warnings were posted by the Food and Drug Administration discouraging the overuse of over-the-counter products.

Follow Bonnie’s Everyday Health Nutrition Intuition blog!

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