Diet Tips for Digestive Health
Simple changes can improve your diet and help relieve constipation:
- Add veggies. You don't have to count grams of fiber to get the amount you need. Instead, aim to eat 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables every day. Make sandwiches with roasted veggies, add a salad instead of fries to your meal, buy pre-cut vegetables to snack on with low-fat dip, keep the fruit bowl full for a handy and healthy snack, and add chopped, dried fruit to oatmeal and cereal.
- Go for grains. Replace white bread, white rice, and regular pasta with whole-grain bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice. Eat more whole oats, multigrain cereals, and whole wheat crackers -- but be sure to choose low-fat and low-sugar options. Snack on air-popped popcorn instead of chips. When you buy cereal, choose brands that have at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
- Bulk up on beans. Replace meat with a bean or legume dish at least once or twice a week. Add cooked beans to salads, and try bean soups and stews as main courses.
- Add fiber gradually. Make changes slowly over the course of a week or so -- if you up fiber too quickly, you could end up feeling bloated and gassy. Be patient -- it may take time for your body to adjust.
- Consider a fiber supplement. If you have trouble getting enough fiber in your diet, a supplement might help. Also called bulk-forming laxatives, they’re generally safe. Just be sure to talk with your doctor before you use them as they can make some medications not work as well.
- Stay hydrated. If you add more fiber to your diet either with food or supplements, be sure to drink more fluids, too. Choose low or no-calorie beverages -- sugary soda and fruit drinks will add extra calories you don't need.
Ease Constipation With Exercise
Exercise not only keeps you fit, it may help you stay regular. It can help food move more quickly through your colon. It's not always easy to find time to be active, but try these tips:
- Start exercising about 20 minutes, 3 days a week, and build up to at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Always check with your doctor before you start any type of fitness plan.
- Short on time? Break up activity throughout the day -- three 10-minute walks count as much as one 30-minute workout.