Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Small Health Clues: Constipation

While constipation isn’t exactly a dinner hour topic, as a dietitian, I hear about it so often that it doesn't phase me at all. My clients start talking about one thing and then, toward the end of our visit they shyly bring up their struggles with constipation. And, it isn’t a matter of just adding fiber and wa-la! no more worries. Constipation is more complicated then that because there could be several causes including:

- Inadequate fiber intake
- Inadequate water intake
- Stress
- Inactive lifestyle
- Change in diet or schedule due to travel
- Overuse of laxatives
- Medications
- Supplemental iron (especially if taken in large doses)
- Hypothyroidism
- Eating disorders
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Certain diseases
- Colon cancer

And, some people are just more prone to constipation. So, what can you do? Take a look at this list and start figuring how the potential contributing causes that may apply to you. Next, see what you can do about them. You may not be able to switch medicines but you can exercise more, drink more water and boost both your insoluble and soluble fiber intake. You can also treat IBS by finding out which foods bother you (LEAP tests are recommended by some) and taking a probiotic (Align is often recommended), switching to an iron supplement that doesn’t constipate (or at least decreases the likelihood of constipation) and be very cognizant of what you eat when traveling.

To see Dr. Oz’s depiction of constipation and his recommendations, click here.

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