Overcast
31°FOvercastFull Forecast

4 ways to manage constipation

Published: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 12:13 p.m. CST

Doctors for USA WEEKEND

It's not your favorite topic of conversation. But if you're having a tough time, perhaps you'll find some comfort in knowing that you're not alone (constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal problems in the U.S.) and that something as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables may help. Produce — along with beans and whole grains — is packed with dietary fiber, which your body needs to regulate bowel movements. Aim for about 20 to 35 grams of daily fiber, incorporated gradually into your diet to help reduce related gas and bloating. Here are four more tips to help you normalize "No. 2."

Consume more fluids.

Water, fruit or vegetable juices and even clear soups can help soften stools and may make fiber more effective. Coffee and other caffeine drinks should be limited — they can cause dehydration and make constipation worse.

Be active.

You know exercise can help control your weight, fight disease and improve your mood, sleep and even sex life; what you may not realize is that walking, biking, and other physical activity also helps your digestive tract keep moving in the right direction. Try for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week.

Go when you gotta go.

If you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, don't ignore it — the longer you wait to heed nature's call, the more water gets absorbed from your stool and the harder it gets.

Ask about meds and supplements.

Some medications (painkillers, high blood pressure drugs and antidepressants, among others) may contribute to digestive problems. Run your prescriptions by your doctor if you're having bathroom troubles and check in before adding any over-the-counter meds or supplements to your regimen. Overusing laxatives that stimulate "action" may lead to intestinal problems; fiber supplements may interfere with the absorption of certain medications.

The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon, health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels and psychologist Wendy Walsh. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.

Get breaking and town-specific news sent to your phone. Sign up for text alerts from the Suburban Life Media.

More News

Watch Now

Player embeded on all SLM instances for analytics purposes.

Snow blows into La Grange

More videos »
 

Reader Poll

When do you put up your holiday decorations?
Right after Thanksgiving
Early December
Close to the holiday
I don't decorate