photo: Mom Goes Green

let’s talk about…constipation

Did the title catch you?! I know my husband is rolling his eyes right now that I took the blog to potty talk, but I found a little research that I thought was interesting to discuss. No one dares to go into toilet conversation on a website (or do they? There are some weird blogs out there…) but I figured if it helps your health, we gotta discuss it.

There is an article in Medscape News Today that estimates about 14% of the world’s community-dwelling populations struggles with constipation. What exactly defines constipation, you ask?

Constipation is an acute or chronic condition in which bowel movements occur less often than usual or consist of hard, dry stools that are painful or difficult to pass. Bowel habits vary, but an adult who has not had a bowel movement in three days or a child who has not had a bowel movement in four days is considered constipated.

medical dictionary

Are we all caught up now? The Medscape article mentions that constipation is more common among women, elderly folks, and those with a lower socioeconomic status. How did they not mention pregnant women?! That’s like a rite of passage! If any of you have been constipated before, you know that it often gets in the way of feeling “normal” or “regular”, and the study even mentions that constipation can cause time away from work and increased medical expenses.

Now, we’ve all heard that fiber, fiber, fiber are the key elements to battling constipation. There isn’t as much research out there about liquid intake and physical exercise, which are both supposed to help keep things moving, so this study explored the combo of dietary fiber and increased liquid intake, as well as exercise. I’m not gonna lie, a good exercise session very often helps “reset” the bowels. Ask anyone who has sprinted off the treadmill toward the bathroom. I’ve seen it. A lot.

Quick boring facts about the study: 10,914 men and non-pregnant women aged 20 years and older from 2005-2008. Bristol Stool Form Scale was used, see article for more details. Participants were also asked about bowel movement frequency. Participants reported their daily diets with fiber and liquid intakes noted. Participants also gave details about their exercise habits, and how frequently they performed vigorous physical activity.

The results showed that women outweigh men in the constipation department. It is also more prevalent in those with lower education levels and fair or poor self-rated health status. One interesting find: those who reported more vigorous exercise activity did not have less frequent constipation.

Low dietary fiber and low liquid intake did result in more constipation among the participants. When adjusting all variables amongst the participants, liquid intake seemed to be the most important and impacting factor in the constipation debate.

So my suggestion for you all: do what seems to help you. When you’re feeling a little bloated and blocked, think about upping your water intake, but don’t assume that’s all you need to do. If you’ve been slacking on your fruits and veggies, have a hearty salad for lunch. Go for a quick jog or a power walk around your neighborhood or office. Instead of jumping for the next medicinal remedy, opt for the natural routes to really try to figure out your body. Once you have found the magic formula, you can help yourself with constipation anywhere!

Are you so happy I touched on this silly topic today? Hey guys, I’m just delivering the news that’s out there…

photo credits: Mom Goes Green