TUESDAY TIP – EASY WAYS TO STAY REGULAR
Having regular bowel movements is a sign of a healthy digestive system, but regularity is challenging in our older years. It is the job of muscles in the wall of the colon to squeeze digested food downward and eventually out of the body. As we get older, these muscles become sluggish, so it’s not uncommon to become more constipated.
Some health conditions are well known to affect colon function, for example irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid disease, lactose intolerance (an inability to break down sugar in milk), diverticulosis (the development of tiny pouches in the intestinal wall), and diverticulitis (inflammation or infection of those pouches). Treating these conditions can help you become regular again.
But some underlying causes of irregularity may not be as obvious, such as stress, a slower metabolism. Medication side effects are also a common culprit.
Fluids help move food through the digestive system, no matter if you get them from drinks or food. Increasing your fluids may help improve regularity. Generally speaking, healthy older adults should be consuming 3 litres of fluids per day. Water-rich foods such as soups, fruits, and vegetables count toward that.
Diet plays a big part in regularity. Too many starchy foods can lead to constipation. Too much sugar, refined grains, processed food, fatty food, alcohol, dairy foods, or caffeine can all cause diarrhea.
The key to regularity through diet is fibre, the non-digestible component of plant food. Insoluble fibre (from foods such as whole grains and most vegetables) does not dissolve as it moves through your gastrointestinal tract. This can help with regularity issues and reduce the risk of developing haemorrhoids and diverticulosis. But not everyone can tolerate this type of fibre easily, so soluble fibre is recommended, which will reduce gas and bloating for most people.
Soluble fibre (from foods such as legumes, oats, and apples) changes into a gel-like substance when you eat it. It makes the stool softer and bulkier, which allows easier passage.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance of fibre is 30 grams per day for men 51 or older, and 21 grams per day for women 51 or older.
Regular exercise including cardio and strength training is a great way to increase regularity.
|Good sources of fibre|
|Soluble fibre||Insoluble fibre|