How to Avoid Constipation

The process of relieving yourself shouldn’t be stressful. In this post, we will share with you the best ways on how to avoid constipation so you can have a smooth and effortless toilet visit.

For a common bowel health condition, constipation is one of the least openly discussed in our society. Even if one in every five Australians has this condition, constipation is still a topic discussed behind closed doors. This may be due to its sensitive nature, but the truth is, being constipated is nothing to be ashamed about.

If it remains unaddressed, constipation can evolve from being a temporary, painful condition to a chronic health complaint that leads to other bowel health issues such as haemorrhoids. The good news is there are several ways to help you avoid being constipated in the first place. The following are our six recommendations on how to avoid constipation:

1. Load up on fibre.

There’s a reason why fibre (specifically, the insoluble kind) is called nature’s broom: it helps to “sweep” or move the foods along our colon. So, to avoid constipation, eat lots of fibre-rich foods such as apples and pears (both with peels), berries, whole-grain foods, carrots and potatoes regularly. For best results, strive to consume anywhere between 18 to 30 grams of fibre each day.

2. Limit your consumption of dairy, alcohol and caffeine.

If you find yourself suffering from an episode of constipation after drinking fresh milk, coffee or beer and eating yoghurt or ice cream, you may want to reduce your consumption of these foods and drinks.

These foods are known triggers for digestive symptoms, particularly dairy if you suffer from lactose intolerance. Constipation, being one of the symptoms of lactose intolerance, is to be expected after ingesting foods that contain this type of sugar.

Alcoholic drinks, soft drinks and coffee can dehydrate you, albeit in varying degrees. When you are dehydrated, your body has to work harder to flush out waste material and toxins in the form of stool. Dehydration is one of the risk factors for constipation, so limiting your consumption of dehydrating drinks can go a long way in maintaining your regular bowel movement.

Of course, it goes without saying that you need to be diagnosed correctly for any pre-existing health conditions before you start removing or limiting any foods from your diet.

3. Fill up with water.

If fibre is called nature’s broom, water is called the universal solvent. This does not mean water can dissolve every single substance, but it does mean water is the solvent that can dissolve the highest number of substances.

Just like fibre, water also helps move the broken down substances in our body to our colon before it passes through our anus. If your body lacks water supply, your chances of getting constipated will increase.

Make it a habit to drink eight tall glasses (8 oz) of water or water-based drinks every day so you can minimise your chances of straining and passing rock-solid stools.

4. Move your body.

If you want your internal organs to cooperate in your quest for regular bowel movements, you need to seek an outward expression for it by actively moving your body.

Staying physically active has been linked to becoming regular. It’s up to you to decide which type of exercise you will perform, but what’s important is you do it and you stick to it. To stay motivated in your exercise routine, we recommend that you set specific and realistic goals (e.g., I will exercise for 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday after work), begin with exercises you feel most comfortable doing (e.g., dancing, jogging, swimming) and add variety (e.g., if you swam on Monday, lift weights on Wednesday and dance on Friday).

5. Don’t hold it in.

When you feel the urge to go to the toilet, do it without delay. Your body is designed to know when it should perform its functions, and eliminating waste matter is not an exception. Restricting your body from doing what it knows it should do at any given time can have adverse effects on your health.

Of course, this advice is easier said than done, particularly for those who are always travelling. A possible workaround to this is to invest in a portable toilet.

You may also want to spend enough time to sit on the toilet after breakfast or lunch as these are the times of day your bowels are most active.

6. Sit on the toilet properly.

Sitting with your back straight, your thighs resting on the seat forming a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor is not the right way to use the toilet. The proper toilet posture is to sit with your back slightly leaning forward, your chest close to your raised thighs and your feet resting on a footstool to form a 35-degree angle. This position allows your stools to be pushed out more easily without the need for excessive straining.

Need Our Help?

Book an appointment with an accredited dietitian or nutritionist by phone on (07) 3071-7405 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday or send us an enquiry. Alternatively, you may read up about our diarrhoea & constipation services.