Ways to Address Chronic Constipation – InVite Health Podcast, Episode 241
Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH.
Most of us have probably been given a lot of wise wisdom from a family member somewhere along the way that has told us about the importance of having prunes and how beneficial that can be for bowel function. I want to talk about that specifically today, not prunes, but I want to talk about constipation because we know that constipation is a major problem in this country. It affects so many people, so I want to talk about the pathophysiology behind constipation, along with different things that you can be doing to address this issue because it isn’t something that’s normal. We shouldn’t accept constipation as a normal part of your life. Our diet plays a major role into this.
The science behind constipation
When we look at chronic idiopathic constipation, what we’re actually looking at is an unsatisfactory system in terms of proper defecation. Chronic idiopathic constipation affects upwards of 20% of the adults in the United States. That’s a huge amount of the population that is dealing with constipation. We have to think about what is functionally going on within the body.
We have to first look at the diet. When we think about our family members recommending prunes, why do they do that? It’s because of the fiber content. This is where we fall incredibly short as Americans. We know that we should be getting roughly 30 grams of fiber every single day and the average American struggles to come close to getting 10 grams. When we look at something like prunes for example, a cup full of prunes can yield you 12 to 15 grams of fiber, so there is a lot of truth to the fact that prunes can be beneficial. But it’s not like you can just have prunes every day and that’s going to solve all of the issues. We have to look at a comprehensive way to address this problem, so we have to recognize that it’s all the foods that we are eating.
We have to make sure that we have proper hydration. A majority of Americans walk around in a state of dehydration, which is not beneficial for your bowel movements. We have to look at hydration and consistent high-fiber in our diet each and every single day.
This fiber that we’re taking in from our foods includes green leafy vegetables, vegetables in general and fruits. We have to start to incorporate this. When they did the National Nutritional Survey, they recognized that over 75% of Americans do not get the required amount of fruit per day, which is one to two cups. That’s not a hard feat to achieve, but yet 75% of Americans cannot do that. Then we look at the even more alarming number when it comes to vegetable intake. We should be taking in two to three cups per day and over 85% of Americans fall short of that, which is really a major issue. So, if your predominant source of fiber is coming from things like fruits or vegetables and we are not getting it, then no wonder why 20% of the adult population in the United States suffers from chronic idiopathic constipation.
What to do about chronic constipation
The first thing we can do to combat chronic constipation is adhere to a Mediterranean diet, which is going to incorporate those key nutrients, so you’re going to get that broad spectrum of high-fiber foods along with healthy fats and good protein. This is why the Mediterranean diet is so incredibly beneficial for the entire body, for every single system.
We also have to make sure that we are staying hydrated and hydrated in the right way. We cannot look at diet soda and regular soda as a means for hydration. We have to put those sugary drinks off to the side and we need to replace that with things like water, which is the body’s best friend. If you don’t like the taste of water, there are ways to skirt around that. You can add in things like the Green Tea Tx or the White Tea Tx. There are ways that you can get that liquid into your system and make sure that you have proper hydration.
We can also use things such as Probiotics to support our microbiome. That’s why having fermented foods, for example, is very beneficial because that microbiome really thrives on those types of foods. We can also incorporate in a daily Probiotic, such as Probiotic Hx, which has been shown in human clinical trials to be incredibly supportive for those who deal with chronic constipation.
Tune into the full podcast episode for more tips on how to combat chronic constipation.
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