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Constipation: the debate of fact vs. fiction

Should you have a bowel movement every day?

It is true that every person is unique in terms of metabolism, absorption and elimination of food, some people would argue that the range of “normal” has large variance.  While clinically constipation is defined as having less than 3 bowel movements per week, I would hardly call going to the bathroom every other day a healthy routine.  If you are consuming 3 meals a day you should probably be having at least 1 bowel movement per day.

Do you just need more fiber?

The benefits of fiber are undoubted but chronic digestive issues including constipation can be due to a more serious underlying health condition.  Fiber is split into two general categories: soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fiber means that it dissolves in water while insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Soluble fiber is found in several foods including oatmeal, nuts, apples, and beans.  This form of fiber will be digested slower and delay quick emptying of the stomach which can help you feel full for a longer period.  Insoluble fiber helps speed up the digestive process and is found in foods such as grains, rice, carrots, grapes, and broccoli.   If increasing your fiber intake doesn’t resolve your constipation issues it would be wise to consult with your health care provider to determine other sources of rule out serious problems.

4 tips for improving digestion:

1. Make sure you are properly hydrated, 60-80 ounces per day is good for most people.

2. Exercise daily, movement and motion not only helps the digestive tract it also reduces stress which can contribute to constipation.

3. Avoid coffee and alcohol, even though caffeine can help stimulate the muscles in your digestive system it ultimately cases dehydration and should be avoided as with alcohol.

4. Use castor oil as a laxative.  This can be powerful at promoting bowel movements but should not be used for long period of time.


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