Skip to content
Maeve CroninSep 13, 2023 12:00:00 AM7 min read

6 Ways To Avoid Constipation

Constipation can be a challenging gastrointestinal problem to manage. It can affect people of all ages, but its prevalence often increases after the age of 60. This condition can significantly reduce people’s energy, disrupt their daily lives, and negatively impact their self-image and mental well-being. Those who suffer from constipation generally need more medical visits, which can also be a financial burden. These frequent medical appointments can add up over time, leading to increased healthcare costs and even potential loss of income due to missed work. The stress and anxiety associated with chronic constipation can further exacerbate the problem, creating a vicious cycle of discomfort and emotional distress.

Constipation happens when your colon absorbs too much water from your stool, dehydrating the stool and making it difficult to pass. This condition can be caused by various factors, including a low-fibre diet, lack of physical activity, dehydration, or certain medications. It can also be linked to underlying health issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), thyroid problems, or neurological disorders. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to get constipation relief or work to prevent constipation. Follow our six tips below to improve your digestive health and alleviate constipation:

Listen to your body:

Peristalsis of the bowel, the movements that trigger a bowel movement, come and go. For this reason, you shouldn’t ignore the natural signals that your body gives you, or you may lose the opportunity. When stool remains in the bowel for a longer period, more water is reabsorbed, making it harder to expel. The urge to go often increases after mealtime, so it's essential to take advantage of your body's signals. Ignoring the urge can lead to prolonged periods of constipation, creating a cycle that's hard to break. Therefore, responding promptly to your body’s cues is crucial for maintaining regular bowel movements. Keeping a routine, such as going to the toilet at the same time every day, can also help establish regularity.

Relax:

Stress can wreak havoc on the whole body, including the bowels. It’s important to manage your stress levels as best as you can. Implement whatever tactics work for you personally, whether it is increasing your time being active, slowing down if you lead a hectic lifestyle, or starting therapy if you think you would benefit. Practices such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress levels. Chronic stress can alter gut motility and lead to digestive issues, including constipation. Finding effective ways to manage stress is crucial for overall health and well-being, including maintaining regular bowel movements. Regularly taking time to unwind and relax, perhaps with a hobby or through social interactions, can have a positive impact on your digestive health.

Increase fluids:

Ensure that you are getting at least 2 litres of fluids a day. It is even better if this is two litres of water. If it is a hot day or you are exercising, try to drink even more fluids, as you are losing a lot of hydration through perspiration. Caffeine can cause dehydration, which can lead to constipation. Staying well-hydrated helps keep the stool soft and easier to pass. Drinking herbal teas, clear broths, and eating water-rich fruits and vegetables can also contribute to your daily fluid intake. Remember that alcohol can also be dehydrating, so it’s best to limit its intake to avoid contributing to constipation. Carrying a water bottle with you and taking regular sips throughout the day can help ensure you stay adequately hydrated.

Exercise:

Leading a more active lifestyle increases blood flow to the intestinal muscles that control bowel movement. The increased blood flow creates stronger contractions through the digestive tract, decreasing the amount of time it takes food to pass through the intestines. Regular physical activity, such as walking, swimming, or yoga, can stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles, promoting more regular bowel movements. Exercise also helps reduce stress, which can further benefit digestive health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week to keep your digestive system functioning well. Activities like dancing, gardening, or even playing with children or pets can also contribute to your daily physical activity and help maintain bowel regularity.

Up your fibre intake:

Dietary fibre softens your stool by absorbing water and makes it bulky so that it is easier to pass. You can increase your fibre intake by eating more fruits, vegetables, beans, and cereals. However, if you struggle to eat these foods for whatever reason, a fibre supplement may be the answer. Recent research indicates that consuming water-soluble fibre increases the weekly frequency of bowel movements.

This soluble fibre is digested and fermented by gut bacteria, promoting a healthy gut. It also improves stool consistency and has prebiotic effects, encouraging the growth of beneficial microbes and reducing harmful bacteria. Including both soluble and insoluble fibres in your diet can provide comprehensive benefits for bowel health. Whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes are excellent sources of fibre that can be easily incorporated into meals and snacks.

Strengthen your gut microbiome:

Your ‘gut microbiome’ refers to the microorganisms living in your intestines. These microorganisms, or ‘microbes,’ mainly comprise bacteria but also include viruses, fungi, and other microscopic living things. A growing body of research shows that increasing the good bacteria in your gut and decreasing the bad bacteria may reduce constipation. Probiotic foods such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods can help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Prebiotics, found in foods like garlic, onions, and bananas, provide nourishment for these beneficial bacteria, further supporting a healthy digestive system. A balanced diet that includes a variety of fermented and prebiotic foods can help foster a diverse and healthy gut microbiome, which is essential for regular bowel movements.

Clinical Trials to advance knowledge

There is a need for safe and effective first-line interventions for the broad population suffering from constipation symptoms. These symptoms may resolve without the need for medication, and clinical trials are essential in developing these interventions. Ongoing research is focused on understanding the underlying causes of constipation and identifying non-pharmacological treatments that can provide relief. By participating in clinical trials, individuals can contribute to advancing medical knowledge and potentially benefit from cutting-edge treatments. These trials can also help uncover new strategies and therapies that can be widely adopted to improve the quality of life for those suffering from constipation.

By implementing these strategies, you can improve your digestive health, reduce the frequency of constipation, and enhance your overall quality of life. Remember to consult with a healthcare provider before making significant changes to your diet or lifestyle, especially if you have underlying health conditions. Working closely with your doctor can help you tailor these recommendations to your specific needs, ensuring the best possible outcomes for your digestive health.

Current Constipation Studies

Severe Constipation: 

Atlantia Clinical Trials are currently looking for adults aged 18-65, based around Chicago, to take part in a research study. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of a probiotic supplement on those with severe constipation (classed in this study less than 3 bowel movements per week).

Over a 10-11 week period, successful participants will take the probiotic placebo product daily for 8 weeks, track their bowel movements daily with an e-diary app, and visit Atlantia's clinic in Downtown Chicago 3 times.

Each participant will receive $600 upon completion of the study in return for their time and any expenses.

To learn more about our current Chronic Constipation study or apply to take part, click here.

Key Takeaways:

  • Respond promptly to the natural signals for bowel movements to prevent prolonged constipation.
  • Implement stress-reducing practices like yoga and meditation to improve gut motility and overall digestive health.
  • Drink at least 2 liters of fluids daily to keep stool soft and easier to pass, avoiding dehydration-induced constipation.
  • Consume more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, or consider fiber supplements to soften stool and improve bowel movement frequency.
  • Incorporate probiotic and prebiotic foods to maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria, reducing constipation.

Conclusion:

Implementing these strategies can significantly improve digestive health and alleviate constipation. Stay hydrated, exercise regularly, manage stress, listen to your body’s signals, and maintain a diet rich in fiber and probiotics. Consult a healthcare provider before making significant lifestyle changes, especially if you have underlying health conditions, to ensure the best outcomes for your digestive health.

avatar

Maeve Cronin

Maeve Cronin, a seasoned Marketing Executive at Atlantia Clinical Trials, brings a wealth of experience from roles in companies like Nutritics and McAfee. With expertise in product marketing and social media, Maeve combines strategic vision with hands-on experience to drive marketing success.

RELATED ARTICLES