6 Worst Lifestyle Habits That Are Making You Constipated
Dealing with constipation can be extremely uncomfortable. Constipation can arise when you're pooping less frequently, it's challenging for you actually to go to the bathroom, and your stool takes on a dry, hard consistency, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Switching up your daily routine or diet, traveling, and not consuming enough fiber, can all lead to constipation. Don't fret, because we spoke with Deena Adimoolam, MD, a specialist in primary care prevention and endocrinology, who breaks down some of the worst lifestyle habits that make you constipated so you know what to avoid.
Constipation can affect individuals of all ages, but some groups of people are at a greater chance of dealing with it on a more regular basis. This includes older individuals who exercise less and have decreased strength with their muscle contractions near the digestive tract, the Cleveland Clinic explains. In addition, prenatal and postnatal women dealing with hormonal changes are likely to experience constipation.
Keep reading to learn about the worst lifestyle habits that make you constipated, along with Adimoolam's top-recommended tips for speeding up your metabolism. And next, be sure to check out The 6 Best Exercises To Help You Poop Immediately.
You're not drinking enough water.
An extremely common culprit behind chronic constipation is dehydration, WebMD reports. When your body doesn't have a sufficient fill of water, your large intestine will absorb the water that's in your food waste. This results in a hard-consistency stool that's challenging to get rid of.
It's key to be mindful of what your body's telling you and stay on top of your H2O intake. WebMD recommends increasing your water intake when you're working out and when it's hot outside. And as for your daily goal, Adimoolam recommends consuming a minimum of six cups of water. It's always a smart idea to chat with your healthcare provider to see what's the ideal course of action for you.
You're not consuming enough fresh fruits and veggies.
Eating fiber-rich foods is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. Dietary fiber, specifically, which you'll find in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and veggies, can soothe constipation or help you avoid it altogether, the Mayo Clinic explains. Try to have at least two servings of fruit (with the peel on to up your fiber intake) and at least two servings of veggies (also with the peel on) each day, Adimoolam recommends. And of course, it's important to drink sufficient water when you're on a high-fiber diet.
You're under too much stress.
You may be surprised to learn that being stressed can have a massive impact on your bowel movements. According to the American Institute of Stress, the way stress hormones impact your body can result in constipation. And when you're stressed out, you may get into the bad habits of stress eating, making unhealthy food choices, not exercising as much, and not staying on top of your water intake. These habits can all make you constipated.
Adimoolam suggests limiting your stress and finding a calming routine that really helps you de-stress. Your bowel movements depend on it!
You're not having scheduled bowel movements.
Did you know that your bowel movements can be scheduled? You heard that right! Adimoolam recommends scheduling bowel movements first thing when you wake up, after breakfast, etc. It should just be at the same time every day, hence setting a "schedule."
According to the UNC Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders, a bowel schedule means establishing uninterrupted time every day to be on the toilet for around 15 minutes. (Doing this after having a meal and a cup of joe may be beneficial!) If you're unable to poop during that timeframe, be sure to not strain yourself, and continue to resume your day.
You have poor sleep habits.
Sleeping too little and sleeping too much can negatively impact your bowel movements—research says so! An observational study published in Frontiers in Neurology displayed the contrasting effect of "unhealthy sleep duration" on constipation in women and men. The research revealed that men are at a greater risk of suffering from constipation if they sleep too little (five to six hours), and women who sleep too much (greater than nine hours) are very likely to deal with constipation.
Adimoolam recommends focusing on habits that promote good sleep hygiene and making sure to get around seven hours of sleep each night.
You're eating too many foods that are linked to constipation.
Just like there are foods that promote regular bowel movements, there are also foods to stay away from if you want to be regular. According to WebMD, you should reevaluate your diet and swap out any foods that may cause constipation. Examples include fast food, tender meat, fried food, white bread, cupcakes, eggs, and even your favorite wine or cocktail. Adimoolam adds, "If you suffer from constipation, avoid very high protein diets (like Atkins) which can lead to more constipation." Instead, consider adding foods to your diet with probiotics in them—like yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, soft cheeses, and kefir—that help support a healthy gut.
- Source: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4059-constipation
- Source: https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/water-a-fluid-way-to-manage-constipation
- Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
- Source: https://www.stress.org/how-is-stress-linked-with-constipation#
- Source: https://www.med.unc.edu/ibs/wp-content/uploads/sites/450/2017/10/BowelRetrain.pdf
- Source: https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/ss/worst-foods-for-constipation