Diet for Constipation
Nutrition Guidelines & Diets for Constipation
| Dietary & Behavioral Tips for Constipation | Alternative Therapy for Constipation | Herbal/Natural Products for Constipation | Alternative Dietary Recommendations for Constipation | Nutritional Supplements For Constipation |
Almost every adult has experienced constipation at one time or another.
Constipation refers to infrequent bowel movements that are hard in consistency and often painful to eliminate.
A number of factors can contribute to constipation, such as prolonged immobilization (bed rest), inadequate exercise, inadequate intake of fiber and fluids, irregular eating habits, and stress.
Other common contributors include the ingestion of certain medications (aluminum hydroxide antacids and antihypertensive agents, for example), narcotics (codeine and morphine), and iron supplements.
In addition, several conditions are associated with constipation, such as colon cancer, diabetes, hypothyroidism, hemorrhoids, and anal fissures.
If you currently or frequently experience constipation, the sections below -- which provide general suggestions for preventing and treating constipation as well as information about alternative therapies-- may be helpful.
The following dietary and behavioral tips may help in the prevention and treatment of constipation:
Complementary and alternative therapy comprise a wide variety of practices and treatments, including the use of herbal preparations and of vitamin and mineral supplements. Whether you are a patient or a caregiver, and whether you are interested in alternative therapies to prevent or treat a specific disease or to improve your general health, you should be aware that many treatments have not been thoroughly researched and scrutinized for safety and efficacy.
Although some complementary therapies (acupuncture for nausea, for example) have been shown to be safe and efficacious, others (the use of some individual herbs and supplements, high dose vitamin and mineral regimens, and radical diets) have brought about toxic side effects.
If you prefer alternative therapies, or if you believe that you have exhausted the available therapies of conventional medicine, the information that follows may be helpful to you. The therapies presented here, however, are by no means intended to replace standard, appropriate medical attention and treatment.
The table below provides information about herbal/natural products that may be helpful if you are experiencing constipation.
Note: You should use alternative therapies to treat a specific health condition only after you have received an accurate diagnosis from a qualified doctor or other medical professional. Be cautious of anyone called an "herbalist," an "herb doctor," or a "health counselor"; these job titles are not regulated. Remember that good health depends on proper medical care.
Caution: In some cases herbal/natural products may interact negatively with other medications. Such interactions can be dangerous. Herbal/natural remedies are not regulated and their quality is not controlled.
Moreover, although an abundant supply of information about alternative treatments and remedies is currently circulating, little of it has been scientifically validated.
Consult your doctor before using any herbal/natural remedy, and remember always to make your doctor and pharmacist aware of any therapeutic products you are using. Your doctor and pharmacist can assist you in determining which herbal/natural products are safe to use with the drugs you are taking.
Table 1. Herbal/natural products commonly used in the treatment of constipation.
The first steps to preventing and treating constipation through diet are to increase the intake of fiber and to drink plenty of fluids.
Adults should try to raise their fiber intake to 35-40 grams daily, and their fluid intake to 8 to 10 glasses daily.
Foods that are high in soluble and insoluble fiber are recommended. Soluble fiber, which may help to lower blood cholesterol and control blood sugar, is found in apples, barley, dried beans, carrots, oats (such as oat bran and oatmeal), oranges, and rye.
Insoluble fiber (or roughage), which helps to keep bowels regular, is found in whole-grain breads and cereals, dried beans, fruits and vegetables with skins, pasta, seeds, and wheat bran.
Because each of these types of fiber has distinct beneficial functions for improving your general health, you should be sure to provide your body with both by eating a variety of fiber-rich foods -- even when you are not experiencing or trying to prevent constipation.
Note: In order to increase your tolerance to an elevated intake of fiber, be sure to add fiber-rich foods to your diet gradually.
The list below provides additional dietary recommendations for preventing and treating constipation:
The table below lists nutritional supplements recommended for people experiencing constipation.
Note: Units for nutritional supplements may be given by weight -- generally in milligrams (mg) or micrograms (mcg) -- or by biological activity, which is measured in international units (IU). Use care when comparing products to ensure that the units are identical.
Table 2. Supplements commonly used during periods of constipation.
The above opinionated views and information serves to educated and informed consumer. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. It should not replaced professional advise and consultation. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions
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