Constipation can be an awkward topic to talk about, yet it is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in the United States. Each year it leads to 2.5 million doctor visits. It is characterized by fewer than three bowel movements per week, straining, hard stools, and the feeling of incomplete evacuation. Many causes of constipation have been speculated, some of which include: neurological disorders, endocrine disorders, use of certain medications, food allergens, and insufficient intake of fiber and liquids. Let’s look at some dietary and supplemental changes you can make to aid constipation.
Fiber acts as a bulking agent by increasing water in the stool and making it easier for the stool to pass. Numerous studies have shown that increasing dietary fiber into your diet with foods such as whole grains, bran, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts can improve constipation. Taking a psyllium seed husk supplement is another great way of boosting your fiber intake.
Flaxseed oil and flaxseed meal are two other first line treatments for people suffering from constipation. A study done on healthy young adults taking flaxseed oil found that bowel movements increased by 30% per week while consuming the oil. It is important to note that flaxseed and psyllium seed husk aren’t the only supplements you can take; probiotics, magnesium, and vitamin C have also been found to relieve constipation. Probiotics have been thoroughly researched throughout the years for their effect on constipation. The majority of evidence has indicated that many probiotic strains are effective for constipation; however, more research is needed to determine the best strains. When taken in large doses, other supplements like magnesium and vitamin C have a laxative-like effect. You should not take large doses of magnesium and vitamin C for extended amounts of time. If your constipation continues, be sure to speak with your health care provider.