Irregularity, What’s Normal?
Question: I am concerned and need help. My daughter has a constant problem with constipation. Any advice would be great.
Answer: Constipation may have many causes. Constipation, or irregularity, occurs when bowel movements become difficult, or when they happen less frequently than normal. It can be a very uncomfortable feeling.
What’s normal? It depends on the individual. Normal can range from a bowel movement three times a day to three times a week. Normal stools are soft and formed, and passed without straining. Only the individual can determine what’s normal for them and when bowel movements are difficult to pass, or happen less frequently.
A common cause of constipation is a diet high in meats, dairy products, eggs, and sugary desserts. Maintaining a well-balanced, high-fiber diet helps promote regularity.
Fiber, especially insoluble dietary fiber, helps move bulk through the intestines and promotes bowel movements. Try slowly adding fiber to her diet to avoid excess gas and bloating. Include more high-fiber foods in the diet, such as oats, wheat bran, brown rice, apples, apricots, blackberries, prunes, raw carrots, kale, and peas.
Hydration also plays a vital role. Drinking enough liquids, especially water, helps make the stool softer and easier to pass through the system.
Probiotics in foods with active cultures help promote overall digestive health and regulate the movement of food through the intestine. Yogurt is a good source of active cultures.
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This post originally appeared on our March/April 2012 Magazine