When the “going” gets tough, you might need some changes in your diet to make the tough get going. Bathroom talk can be humorous to some and uncomfortable to others, but constipation is something that happens to just about all of us at some point. There are things you can do to help keep it moving, though…
Constipation can be uncomfortable at best or painful and require medical attention at its worst. While some find the topic to be comical, it’s actually a serious topic and shouldn’t be ignored. If you find yourself dealing with strain or pain from difficult bowel movements, if you’re suffering from hemorrhoids or anal fissures (ouch!), or if you’re having fewer than three bowel movements per week, it’s time to do something to keep it moving.
Over-the-counter laxatives are certainly an option, but they can lead to discomfort and unpredictability that no one wants to worry about. To keep it moving regularly all the time, you need to take action with your nutrition and lifestyle. Your digestive system is generally a decent sign of just how healthy you are, so we’ve listed a few things below that you can do to keep it moving.
Eat More Fiber
Everyone knows that fiber is necessary to keep it moving but not everyone gets enough in their daily diet. If you eat a plant-based diet, chances are very high that you don’t need to worry about your fiber intake, but if you eat a mixed diet or don’t always get the right balance of fiber on a daily basis, then it’s time to make some changes.
There are two types of dietary fiber; soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can be dissolved, so it’s the fiber type that’s good for maintaining a healthy cholesterol balance and helping to regulate blood sugar levels. As important as that is, it’s insoluble fiber that’s vital to keep things moving along through your digestive tract. Because it can’t be dissolved, insoluble fiber helps add bulk to your bowel movements and soften them up so all those metabolic wastes can move along, uninterrupted.
It’s generally recommended that women get a minimum of 38 grams of dietary fiber per day, and men should aim for at least 25 grams per day.
It’s important to stay well hydrated for nearly all your body’s functions, and that includes the proper functioning of your digestive tract.
Water is obviously important for breaking down and transporting nutrients, but you also require adequate hydration for the processing and moving of foods and metabolic waste through your intestines. Not enough water and you’ll experience hard, dry bowel movements that simply can’t keep moving. Without enough water intake, it’s like putting on the brakes in your bowels.
Water intake requirements can vary greatly depending on your climate, activity level, and other factors, but a good rule of thumb is to get at least 2.2 liters of water per day for women and 3 liters per day for men, and drink more if needed. Some of that water intake can come from fruits and vegetables or other beverages, but watch the caffeine-based drinks, as those don’t count, and too much caffeine can actually increase your water-intake needs because of its mild diuretic effects.
To keep it moving, you need to keep your body moving, too. Exercise is great for your heart, makes you look better, and makes you feel better, and that includes your digestive tract. Whether it’s the simple act of an evening walk or a full-blown gym workout, exercise helps with blood flow everywhere, including the blood going to your digestive system to help properly evacuate food and keep it moving through your intestines.
That obviously doesn’t mean you should have a strenuous workout immediately after a meal, as no one’s going to enjoy that, but a short walk after dinner is fine, and general exercise at any time during the day can help with healthy blood flow all day.
Take a Deep Breath
Try to relax, and we don’t just mean while you’re in the bathroom, although that’s obviously a good idea. Your overall stress levels can have a negative impact on your bowels, as high-stress levels can slow down the digestive process and increase tension in your muscles, including the muscles that help keep everything moving along.
Finding ways to relax more can help greatly with digestive system health, and reducing stress is vital for your overall health and vitality.
Don’t Ignore the Backdoor
If you’re feeling backed up and struggling in the bathroom, or if you find that you’re not quite going as often as you should, don’t ignore it. And don’t ignore it when your body tells you it’s time to go. By not listening to your body, especially if you do that often, you could be causing long-term issues that you really don’t want to deal with (like teaching your body not to react to the impulse to go until it’s too late).
The same goes for those times when you’ve noticed you haven’t gone for a while or your body just isn’t cooperating. Don’t force it when it’s obvious that things are ready to move along.
If you follow these basic guidelines, it should be able to avoid any problems with keeping things moving.