Wellness Wednesday: Know Your Sh*t- Eating for a Happy Colon

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This week we are examining an often uncomfortable subject: constipation. While you might think it’s not that big of a deal, over 42 million people in the US are affected by constipation. Worse yet, constipation is thought to increase the potential for developing colorectal cancer by keeping toxic substances in contact with your gut for an extended period of time. Sort of puts a new spin on the phrase ‘Move it or lose it’, doesn’t it? So how do know if you should be concerned? Let’s break it down.

You might be constipated if you have had the following symptoms more than 25% of the time for longer than three months:

·       Straining during bowel movements

·       Lumpy or hard stool

·       Feeling like you haven’t got it all out

·       Fewer than 3 movements per week

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Although constipation can be caused by conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, pregnancy and diabetes, as well as some classes of prescription drugs and vitamins, it is usually mediated by three things you can directly control: fiber intake, water consumption and activity level.  The standard American diet is usually very low in fiber. As a result, our guts are no longer used to digesting it, a fact that often causes people feel that they cannot tolerate fiber-rich foods. By slowly introducing fiber-rich foods into the diet, you may be able to reduce some of the more unpleasant side effects that high fiber foods are often associated with.   

Recommended Daily Fiber Intake

 

Males

38g per day

Females

25g per day

 

Good Sources of Fiber:

·       Fruit

·       Vegetables

·       Oatmeal

·       Beans, Peas

 Super happy, super stoked colon.

Super happy, super stoked colon.

So, you’re eating a ton of fiber. Great. Now what? In order for the fiber to do its job and keep things moving smoothly, it needs water. Fiber pulls water into the gut and produces a gel that acts as a lubricant.  Without the water, the fiber doesn’t work as it should. As a rule of thumb, you should be drinking at least 8-10 eight ounce glasses of water daily, more if you’ve recently increased the fiber in your diet. Still feeling constipated? Don’t give up, try going for a walk. Activities like walking/ running, biking and stretching help stimulate the muscles in your guts and make you more regular. If you are still having problems after that, see your local dietitian.