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Controlling Constipation

Although not usually a serious risk to health, constipation is very common, particularly among older, less active people and those whose diet does not contain sufficient fibre.

Controlling Constipation

The normal frequency of bowel movements ranges from three times a day to three times a week. Some people may think they have constipation when they don’t. As well as infrequent bowel movements, constipation means having hard stools that are difficult to pass, leading to straining during bowel movements and the feeling that you have not emptied your bowel completely.

Fortunately, constipation is often temporary – caused by medication, lack of toilet access, pregnancy or a change in routine. There are many simple ways to tackle the problem.

It’s important to eat more fibre than usual. This indigestible, fibrous part of plants adds bulk to your stools, both softening them and stimulating the urge to go to the toilet. Aim to eat seven to nine portions of fruits, vegetables and beans daily and choose wholegrain bread, pasta and rice. If you can’t manage this, take a supplement that contains ispaghula husk (psyllium).

Try to drink more water. Aim for at least six to eight glasses of fluids a day. Most constipation sufferers find their bowel habits improve by following these simple dietary measures.

Best Fibre food Sources

Medical experts recommend we get at least 25 grams of fibre a day, but most of us average only five to ten grams a day. Here are some easy suggestions for foods that are high in fibre and will help you bump up your everyday intake:

  • Wholegrain breads (rye, bulgur, pumpernickel)
  • Fresh fruit (avocado, berries)
  • Legumes (lentils, lima beans)
  • High-fibre cereals (bran, oats)
  • Vegetables (artichokes, spinach, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli)


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