Anyone who has suffered from constipation would be grateful for advice on preventing this troublesome problem. Avoiding medications such as opioid pain relievers or even supplements like calcium that can interfere with bowel function helps, if it is possible. But some people combat constipation by adding certain foods to the basic approach–adequate fiber and fluids.
How Do You Combat Constipation?
Q. As a Registered Dietitian, I appreciate your science-based, practical advice. However, your recent advice on calcium and constipation was incomplete. I speak not only from my knowledge as a dietitian but also from dealing with constipation resulting from a redundant sigmoid colon.
The yogurt you recommend as a source of calcium is also great for bowel health and regularity, presumably because it results in a healthier intestinal microbiome. Just as important though, and not emphasized nearly enough, is adequate fluid intake, i.e., enough to maintain a straw-colored urine. Fiber in whole grains, fruits and vegetables is essential too, but without enough fluid it can turn stool to concrete. Regular exercise also helps.
If those measures are not enough, milk of magnesia is effective and not habit-forming as stimulant laxatives like senna are.
Yogurt to Combat Constipation:
A. Thank you for sharing your experience. We don’t often think of yogurt as a way to counteract constipation. However, one study found that people consuming yogurt with probiotics responded well (Magro et al, Nutrition Journal, July 24, 2014). In addition, in another study of pregnant women with constipation, eating either conventional or probiotic yogurt alleviated the problem (Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, Oct. 1, 2016). A meta-analysis found that foods containing probiotic bacteria can decrease the amount of time it takes for food to travel the digestive tract (Miller et al, World Journal of Gastroenterology, June 7, 2016).
Fiber and Fluids Are Key:
Consuming plenty of fiber and fluid is also a mainstay of healthy bowel function. To learn more about how to combat constipation, you may wish to read our Guides to Digestive Disorders and Constipation. You may also wish to listen to our interview on the topic with Dr. Robynne Chutkan. It is Show 1115: How You Can Conquer Constipation.