Prevention of Constipation


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Prevention list: Methods of prevention of Constipation mentioned in various sources includes those listed below. This prevention information is gathered from various sources, and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Constipation.

  • Drink water
  • Eat fiber
  • Exercise
  • Avoid holding back bowel movement

Prevention of Constipation: In most cases, following these simple tips will help:

  • Eat a variety of foods. Eat a lot of beans, bran, whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

  • Drink plenty of liquids.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Do not ignore the urge to have a bowel movement.

  • Understand that normal bowel habits are different for everyone.

  • If your bowel habits change, check with your doctor.
1

Changing what you eat and drink and how much you exercise will help relieve and prevent constipation. Here are some steps you can take.


1. Eat more fiber.

Fiber helps form soft, bulky stool. It is found in many vegetables, fruits, and grains. Be sure to add fiber a little at a time, so your body gets used to it slowly. Limit foods that have little or no fiber such as ice cream, cheese, meat, snacks like chips and pizza, and processed foods such as instant mashed potatoes or already-prepared frozen dinners. The following chart shows you some high-fiber foods.


High-Fiber Foods

Fruit Vegetables Breads, Cereals, and Beans
Apples
Peaches
Raspberries
Tangerines
Acorn squash
Broccoli, raw
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots, raw
Cauliflower, raw
Spinach
Zucchini
Black-eyed peas
Kidney beans
Lima beans
Whole-grain cereal, cold (All-Bran, Total, Bran Flakes)
Whole-grain cereal, hot (oatmeal, Wheatena)
Whole-wheat or
7-grain bread


2. Drink plenty of water and other liquids such as fruit and vegetable juices and clear soup.

Liquid helps keep the stool soft and easy to pass, so it's important to drink enough fluids. Try not to drink liquids with caffeine or alcohol in them. Caffeine and alcohol tend to dry out your system.

3. Get enough exercise.

Doctors are not sure why, but regular exercise helps your system stay active and healthy. You don't need to become a great athlete. A 20- to 30-minute walk every day will do the trick.


4. Allow yourself enough time to have a bowel movement.

Sometimes we feel so hurried that we don't pay attention to our bodies' needs. Make sure you don't ignore the urge to have a bowel movement.

5. Use laxatives only if a doctor says you should.

Laxatives (LAHK-sa-tivz) are medicines that will make you pass a stool. Most people who are mildly constipated do not need laxatives. However, if you are doing all the right things and you are still constipated, your doctor may recommend laxatives for a limited time.

Your doctor will tell you if you need a laxative and what type is best. Laxatives come in many forms: liquid, chewing gum, pills, and powder that you mix with water, for example.

6. Check with your doctor about medicines you may be taking.

Some medicines may cause constipation. They include calcium pills, pain pills with codeine in them, some antacids, iron pills, diuretics (water pills), and medicines for depression. If you take medicine for another problem, be sure to ask your doctor about it. 1

Footnotes:
1. excerpt from Why Am I Constipated: NIDDK

Last revision: Nov 10, 2003

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