What is Constipation?
Constipation is defined as a decrease in the usual number of stools, difficulty or straining while eliminating the stool, or incomplete bowel movements (with a small volume with stool perhaps coming out in small pieces). The “normal” number of stools per day or week varies by person, but having fewer than 2 stools per week is usually a problem. The causes of constipation are numerous. These can include poor fiber in the diet, not enough liquid in the diet, medications, decreased exercise, and medical conditions such as poor motility (movement) in the intestine, inflammation in the bowels, and irritable bowel syndrome. If your constipation is diet related, increasing fluid intake, fiber intake and exercise may help.
To reduce constipation, make sure you are getting adequate fluids and fiber in your diet. Aim for approximately 8 cups of non-caffeinated fluids such as water, low fat milk and tea daily. The recommended fiber intake is 38 grams per day for men under 50 years and 30 grams per day for men older than 50. The recommended fiber intake is 25 grams per day for women under 50 years, and for those over 50 is 21 grams per day. If your dietary intake does not approach these recommendations, increase foods high in fiber sources (both soluble and insoluble) slowly until you reach your fiber intake goal.
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