How To Alleviate Constipation & Promote Good Digestive Health

Published: 13th March 2012
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Constipation is one of the leading health issues that can strike people of every age. While proper hydration, diet and exercise can help to ameliorate this common digestive problem for most people, for older individuals there may be specific issues that should be addressed within the diet or personal habits in order to form a more long-term solution.

The following are several ways to ensure that digestive performance remains regular as the years roll by.


Diet is everything when it comes to resolving constipation. This is because more often than not, diet is the primary cause. As people grow older and their children move away to pursue lives and dreams of their own, there is less of a need to cook balanced meals for an entire family. Often faced with the issue of having too much food left over after cooking a meal, many older adults stop cooking at all and opt instead to dine on pre-packed, frozen meals that are perfect for smaller servings.

Pre-packed foods of every kind are usually loaded with chemical preservatives, flavorizers, texturizers and other additives that can have a negative impact on the body overall.

These non-food additions are often perceived by the body as toxins and can over time, lead to a build-up on the intestinal walls that can make constipation a common issue.

More importantly, because many pre-packed and ready-made foods are harder for the body to digest, they tend to make the bowels sluggish and could even impact weight maintenance for the individuals who regularly consume them.

This makes it especially important that older adults make good nutrition a priority. While there may no longer be children in the home to feed and care for, the same nutritional focus should be in place.

Just as you once would not have allowed your own children to eat T.V. dinners on a nightly basis, now you need to implement the same dietary rules for yourself.

Each meal or snack that you consume should contain some combination of fresh, soluble fiber such as fresh or lightly steamed vegetables and fruits, lean protein and whole grains.

The real goal of your eating habits is to consume foods that are served closest to their natural state. For instance, a baked potato is preferable to a potato chip, grilled chicken or fish is preferable to breaded and fried fish or chicken patties and steamed wild or white rice will be more beneficial than boxed rice mixes that contain combinations of highly refined rice and pastas.

When implementing a diet to resolve constipation, it is usually best to approach meal planning and preparation with the same concern and care that you applied to the process when cooking for your own children. While going from cooking for a full family to cooking for only one or two people can be difficult, aging individuals need and deserve the same nutritional concern that growing children do.

How you eat and what you eat will dramatically alter how your digestive system functions.

Low-Impact Exercises for Constipation Relief

As people grow older their decreased levels of activity make it harder for the body to breakdown complex food selections. Less activity helps to create a sluggish metabolism even as the metabolism is already naturally slowing down. Keeping active is key to maintaining regular digestive habits.

Your workouts do not need to be intense but should last at least thirty minutes per session which will allow for a considerable increase in circulation and metabolic functioning.

As your metabolism speeds up, the need to make a bowel movement will increase. If a high-fiber diet has been implemented, the stool will be softer and easier to pass, causing less strain and reducing the likelihood of developing or exacerbating hemorrhoids.

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise that aging individuals can engage in. The alternating swing of arms and legs helps to stimulate functioning in specific areas of the brain and a walking at a consistent pace for a minimum of thirty minutes can help to regulate blood pressure, blood sugar and digestion.

This activity is low-impact, easy to perform and can be done just about anywhere. It is important, however, to wear proper fitting shoes and to stretch before and after each walking session.

Adequate Water Hydration For Effective Constipation Prevention

People who are properly hydrated tend to suffer from constipation far less than those who are not. Sufficient hydration helps the body to create softer stools and to produce them more easily. When less water than is needed for optimal functioning is not present, the body will divert water away from certain systems in order to supply others that may be more critical for survival.

For instance, if you drink lots of coffee and other caffeine containing beverages, your body may redirect water from your digestive system in order to ensure proper hydration of your lungs. Thus, while your breathing is not impacted by mild dehydration, your digestive system will be. Stools are likely to be larger, harder and much more difficult to pass.

While a small glass of prune juice will certainly help things to get going again in the digestive area, it will not address dehydration issue. Thus, when implementing any measure to correct constipation it is always important to address dehydration as well by beginning a regular routine of sufficient water consumption.

How Much Water Is Enough?

People tend to become less active as they age. They sweat less, exert themselves less and thus, require less water than their younger, more active counterparts. In general, however, moderately active older adults should drink approximately four to six glasses of water each day, each being no less than eight ounces.

One critical aspect of determining how much water you should drink, is gauging the amount of coffee or caffeinated tea that you consumer each day. While caffeine has long been used to treat constipation in some households, it can actually exacerbate the cause.

This is because caffeine can have a significant impact on hydration levels especially when it is the primary beverage of choice. Thus, if you are a regular coffee drinker, you should consume a full eight ounce glass of water after each cup in order to replenish the water stores that the caffeine will take away.

Excessive use of caffeine can also have a negative impact on bone density, especially when present in diet colas and other beverages containing artificial sweeteners, making water the most desirable beverage for good digestive health and better health all around.

When Dentures Are The Issue

For many people who wear dentures, breaking down hard foods such as carrots, apples, celery and other uncooked, natural selections can be uncomfortable if not downright painful.

Unfortunately for those who frequently suffer from denture pain when eating fresh fruits and vegetables, raw produce can provide some of the best soluble fiber for ameliorating constipation.

The simple solution to this problem is to run fresh selections such as apples and carrots through the juicer.

Several ounces of freshly prepared juice can help to revitalize the digestive system and will rapidly restore normal digestive functioning. In addition to correcting issues of constipation, freshly prepared juice can provide people of every age with a number of health benefits including higher quantities of essential vitamins and nutrients than pre-packaged or cooked foods, as well as natural amelioration of common ailments such as mild joint pain and joint stiffness, congestion, fatigue and more.

Another major issue for people who wear dentures is the insufficient removal of glue or adhesive products that are used to firmly secure the teeth in the mouth.

While hot beverages and hot foods can certainly help to erode this glue away throughout the course of the day, they may not entirely remove all of the glue that is present. In some instances, people are known to swallow a considerable amount of this glue on a daily basis either while removing it or as the consequence of having left a substantial amount on the gum line.

People who deal with this issue commonly report having a sticky feeling in the esophagus and mild to moderate cases of constipation. While a small amount may not impact the body at all, regularly introducing denture glue into the digestive system will impact bowel movements.

If you are continually constipated and know that you have been swallowing your denture glue, you may need to speak with your dentist about other options for securing you dentures. Several innovations in dentistry enable patients to have their dentures permanently fixed in place without the need for glue.

You can also research glue alternatives such as adhesive pads that attach to the dentures and secure them to the gums without causing a gluey mess and the typical resulting issues. With less glue in your system, you can begin to look forward to having more regular bowel movements.

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