Let’s just talk about it? It’s not party conversation (or particularly blog friendly either) but since I get a lot of questions about constipation-I’ll do my best. Most muscular function in your body declines with age (yes- one more thing!), and so it is with the smooth muscle of the G.I. tract. Maybe you’ve noticed a little of this happening and asked – what has changed?
Aging muscles and slower digestion don’t always contribute to constipation. Most people recognize that diet plays a role – yes; but did you know that some medications- even OTC- can also contribute?
Medications that help to lower blood pressure or cholesterol can team up with an aging induced slowdown in G.I. muscular activity and cause constipation. Another big one? Pain-relieving medications. These meds can range from strong prescription narcotics (compounds that reduce pain and promote drowsiness), which really slow things down, to over-the-counter NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin and Advil, which can cause other kinds of G.I. problems like stomach bleeding and ulcers with long term use.
A few things you can do? Drink lots of plain water, eat a fiber rich diet and a goal for all of us should be to lower the number of medications we take and the strength of the dosages we require (with medical supervision always). Constipation doesn’t have to be a consistent condition and laxatives aren’t a long term solution.
The right diet and regular exercise is not only the best way to combat a slowing GI tract- bonus benefits include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels and maintaining your weight. Even if you don’t take medications, constipation is your body’s way of telling you it’s time to consider your dietary habits.
Not only will you feel better with regularity, maybe you’ll need less of those medications- or none at all?
Kimberly Young, M.S. is a practicing Nutritionist in Dallas, Texas. Learn about her integrative and functional approach to diet and nutrition at kyoungnutrition.com
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