We all know what it feels like, but how exactly does constipation begin? The colon, or large intestine, plays an important role in digestion. When food reaches the colon, water is absorbed and through the colon's muscle contractions, waste is eliminated. Constipation occurs when the colon absorbs too much water, or when its muscle contractions are irregularly slow causing waste to move too slowly. Although the frequency of bowel movements can vary significantly between healthy people, constipation is defined as having less than three bowel movements per week. Some of the common causes of constipation include:
Significant lifestyle change, such as travel, pregnancy, or aging
Insufficient fiber in the diet
Lack of physical activity
Irritable bowel syndrome
Most cases of constipation can be addressed through dietary and lifestyle changes, although treatment ultimately depends on the cause, severity, and duration of constipation. For many adults, increased intake of fiber and liquid as well as physical activity will help alleviate constipation. Adults should consume 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day to maintain healthy digestion.
As a reminder, fruits, veggies, and juices such as PlumSmart are good sources of fiber. Small improvements to your diet and lifestyle can return significant results-so grab a glass of PlumSmart and a healthy snack, and head out on a walk to help that uncomfortable feeling subside!