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A nutritious oatmeal with blueberries and nuts to keep regular bowel movements

5 Ways to Keep Regular Bowel Movements

As many as one in five of us is plagued by constipation, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

It affects twice as many women as men and older people are five times more likely than younger adults to suffer from constipation.

Constipation is when you poo fewer than three times a week – and when you do go, your stool is larger than usual, hard to push out, and dry, hard or lumpy. If you’re constipated, you may also feel bloated or nauseous and have a stomach ache.

Most of us can make some simple lifestyle changes to help us keep regular. Here are 5 things to try if you are frequently constipated:

1. Eat more fibre

Fibre can be found in all plant foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. Opt for wholegrain bread, pasta and cereals, and eat plenty of fruit and veg every day. If you suddenly increase your fibre, you may get a bloated tummy or wind. Increasing how much water and fluids you drink can help to dissipate this.

2. Drink more

When you’re constipated, your stools often become hard. Water can help to keep your poos soft, but too much caffeine or alcohol can have a dehydrating effect, so limit these.

3. Go for a walk

Lack of exercise can slow the natural movement of faeces in the bowel, leading to constipation. As with its many benefits for good health, exercise is good for keeping you regular. A brisk walk, swim or even some gardening can help to keep things moving.

4. Listen to your body

Sometimes we put off going to the toilet if we’re in a strange place or are busy. This can exacerbate constipation. It’s important to go when you feel the urge or to set aside a regular time for a poo, such as after breakfast.

5. Try to relax

Certain situations can bring on constipation – for example, a change of diet while you’re on holiday or travelling, or less easy access to a toilet while you’re away from the home. It’s important to try to relax and give yourself time to go to the loo. If you’re regularly stressed or anxious, this can also affect your bowel movements, so try to address the causes of your stress.

For more articles on your gut health, including 10 fascinating facts about your gut and understanding stomach problems, visit our gut health hub.

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