A gastroenterologist’s best advice for relieving constipation


Don’t worry, you’re not the only one struggling to become number two. In fact, constipation is a common problem among Americans, affecting 16% of adults and nearly a third of Americans over the age of 60. Nearly 2.5 million Americans visit their doctor each year for this common problem. Is there a quick and easy way to get constipation relief?

The Healthy @Reader’s Digest spoke with Dr. Kevin M. Cronley, MD, gastroenterologist at Gastro Health in Miami, FL, who gave us some in-depth insight into how he helps his patients cope with constipation, along with some tips that could be a game-changer for you.

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Most Doctors Suggest You Should Increase Your Fiber Intake

“The first treatments recommended by gastroenterologists usually include the addition of fiber supplements, which are available in a variety of supplements and natural foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains,” says Dr. Cronley.

Fiber is an essential nutrient for bulking up stools and moving them easily through the digestive tract, and typical intake is through fiber-rich foods. Nevertheless, while the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that you should consume at least 25-30 grams of fiber a day, 90% of women and 97% of men in America consume an average of just 15 grams.

For those who don’t get enough fiber in their diet, a supplement may be beneficial, and the research agrees. A 2022 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that fiber supplementation significantly improved constipation in patients after four weeks, increasing stool frequency and improving stool consistency. Psyllium and pectin were the most effective supplement forms, and taking doses above 10 grams per day has been shown to be effective for patients with chronic constipation.

Here’s how much fiber you should eat to prevent disease

Another Supplement May Also Relieve Constipation

Although fiber tends to be a go-to recommendation from gastroenterologists, Dr. Cronley points out that supplementing with magnesium can be surprisingly beneficial for moving stool through your system. “Some patients will find constipation relief with magnesium supplements,” he says.

As an article in Michigan Medicine explains, magnesium helps increase the amount of water in the intestines, which makes bowel movements easier. Some doctors find that people with gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, tend to have lower magnesium levels. Although eating magnesium-rich foods like green vegetables, nuts, and whole-grain products helps get an adequate amount of magnesium daily, taking a supplement can help those who are deficient and who have problems in the bathroom.

6 things to know before taking a magnesium supplement

A gastroenterologist’s best advice for relieving constipation

While fiber and magnesium tend to be go-to nutrients and supplements recommended by gastroenterologists, Dr. Cronley points out that the very first piece of advice he typically gives his patients is to make small changes to their diet. current lifestyle. “Lifestyle changes can be a great start to treating constipation, including making sure you stay adequately hydrated and stay physically active.”

Fluid loss and dehydration have been linked to increased problems with constipation, and drinking enough water is important for bowel frequency on a high fiber diet. Increased physical activity has also been shown to help patients with chronic constipation, especially when combined with dietary fiber intake, according to a 2017 randomized controlled clinical trial through the Ethics Committee research from the Faculty of Physiotherapy of Cairo University.

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If you’re really looking to clear your system, Dr. Cronley says, “Patients with severe constipation may find relief with Hygieacare, a medical-grade colic, available in select US cities for patients with intractable constipation. “. (Intractable constipation can be described as persistent constipation despite extensive treatment.) Hygirelief treatment is used for constipation and bloating relief, while their Hygiprep is used for colonoscopy preparation.

However, if you notice an abnormal level of constipation, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. “If the constipation is new, lasts longer than three weeks, or is associated with symptoms such as rectal bleeding or weight loss, it is important to see a doctor to make sure something more serious is not contributing. not,” says Dr. Cronley.

Blockages in the colon can cause bowel-related problems and are even linked to rectal or colon cancer, explains the Mayo Clinic. Some cases of constipation can also be a sign of a neurological problem, which affects the nerves that lead muscles in the colon and rectum to move stool through the intestines. These types of diseases include multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, and stroke.

If you find that you are dealing with unexplained and uncomfortable constipation, be sure to talk to your doctor about treatment to lessen your risk.

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