Posted: Jan 3, 2019
Feeling a little backed up? Roughly one in four Canadians suffer from chronic constipation. If you have fewer than 3 bowel movements a week or your poop is hard to pass, you might be one of them. Luckily, most people can get their bowels moving with a few adjustments to the 3 Fs: fibre, fluids, and fitness. Read on to learn more.
Fibre: When it comes to bathroom breaks, fibre has two main roles. It provides bulk (making poo easier to push) and draws water into the colon, softening your stool. How much you need depends on your age and gender. Women need 25 grams a day and men need 38 grams. That target drops slightly to 21 and 30 grams, respectively, for those 50 years of age or older. Fibre is not an easy thing to estimate but food tracking apps can help. If your fibre intake is low, bump it up by consciously including some fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts or seeds at every meal and snack (yup - every single one!).
Fluids: Water lubricates the intestinal tract and softens stool. If your “number 2s” are on the hard and dry side, you might not be drinking enough. How much fluid your body needs changes based on heat, humidity, activity, and a whole host of other factors. So pay attention to your thirst and don’t expect your needs to be exactly the same every day. If you’ve got the urge to urinate every 3-4 hours and your urine is light yellow in colour, you’re likely well hydrated. If not, drink up!
Fitness: When you move, your bowels move too! Exercise causes food to move through the digestive tract faster and tones and strengthens muscles in the colon. As little as 10-20 minutes of activity a day can be enough to get things moving. Try going for a walk at lunch or after your evening meal.