Preventing Diarrhea and Constipation
1. Increase your fiber intake.
Fiber is made up of the parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest, but instead pass without absorbing. Most people get only a small portion of the 25 to 30 mg of fiber that is recommended for healthy digestion. Your body needs both soluble fiber, which dissolves in water to form a gel-like consistency, and insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water.
- Get more soluble fiber by eating more oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, and barley. This will also help control your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Eat more insoluble fiber by adding whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, and vegetables like cauliflower and green beans to your diet. Increasing your intake of insoluble fiber will help keep your bowel movements regular and combat constipation.
- Many plant foods contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, so you can easily maximize your intake of both by eating a diet filled with diverse grains and vegetables.
- High fiber foods are generally low in calories and they will also help you control your weight, lower your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk of hemorrhoids.
2. Drink plenty of water.
The combination of high fiber and water will increase the efficiency of your digestion by helping to soften and break down foods so your body can absorb the nutrients. It will also soften your stool and make regular bowl movements easier.
- Doctors sometimes recommend eight 8-oz. glasses per day (1.9 l), but the amount you need will vary with your body weight, how active you are, and what climate you live in.
- If you get headaches in the evening, feel tired, lightheaded, nauseous, and sweat very little even when it is hot, you might need to drink more water.
- Other signs of dehydration include reduced urine output and urine that is darker than usual.
3. Eat fermented foods daily to cultivate healthy gut bacteria.
A healthy digestive tract has many species of microorganisms which help break down food. Eating fermented products like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, natural sauerkraut, tempeh and kombucha will help replenish and balance the bacterial community in your digestive system. Not only will this combat diarrhea and constipation, but it may also improve or prevent several other health conditions:
- Diarrhea after antibiotics have killed some of the naturally occurring gut bacteria
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
- Colds and flu
4. Add supplements to your diet to be sure you are getting everything you need.
It is best to do this in consultation with a doctor because supplements may alter how your body absorbs some medications. A doctor will help you adjust the dosages to be right for you.
- Take prebiotic supplements. These supplements will help you get enough fiber in your diet, promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, and alleviate constipation. You should make sure you area also eating prebiotic foods such as oatmeal or berries.
- Try probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that are similar to those naturally occurring in your digestive tract and aid digestion. Probiotic supplements can help treat diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcers.
- Add essential vitamins to your diet. Essential vitamins are those that your body needs to function properly. They include A, B, C, and D vitamins. Adequate vitamin levels are necessary for your body to process proteins, carbohydrates, and fatty acids, absorb iron, and maintain immune functions. Supplements can help you avoid deficiencies.
5. Eat less salty, sugary, and fatty foods.
Not only can these substances cause stomachaches in high quantities, but they slow digestion, causing constipation.
- Eat less prepackaged, processed foods. They often have high quantities of sugar, as well as salt and fat, added to them. They will also prevent you from being hungry for healthier foods, like high fiber foods.