I’m a Physician and Atlanta native, with a love for nutrition and physical fitness. The fitness bug bit me at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, while I worked towards my B.A. in Psychology. When I came back home to Morehouse School of Medicine, I discovered my love for strength training, and it thrived even as I went west to Stanford University to complete my studies.
I have experimented with many different facets of training, learning firsthand the effects of proper nutrition and training. My most recent feat was transitioning from a life of mainly strength training to cardiovascular endurance training. I’m very proud to have finished a half marathon in 2010. Through the years, I have learned three keys to success in developing strength or endurance–proper planning, plenty of rest, and adequate nutrition.
Q:Why am I not defecating at a regular rate? I eat a lot vegetables and fruit, yet I am still irregular.
A: Everyone has their own stooling patterns, maybe it is once per day or every other day, but if you are stooling with no pain, or complaints of hard stool, that may be normal for you. Constipation is defined as a change in bowel habits or defecatory behavior that results in acute or chronic symptoms, or diseases that would be resolved with relief of the constipation.
Questions that you can ask yourself to assess whether you have constipation:
1) How often to you defecate? Is this a variation from your normal patterns? (Infrequent bowel movements are considered less than 3 times per wk)
2) Do you have difficulty during defecation (straining during more than 25% of bowel movements or a subjective sensation of hard stools)?
3) Do you have the sensation of an incomplete bowel evacuation?
4) Do you have an underlying medical condition or medication which could cause constipation?
Fruits and vegetables are considered good sources of fiber, which is a great bulking agent for removing waste from your intestine, as it passes undigested/partially digested through your intestine.
There are two different types of fiber, soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber includes oats, beans, peas, apples citrus fruit, psyllium, these dissolve in water and form a gel-like material, which swell and slow transit through the intestine.
Insoluble fiber includes whole wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, seeds, skins and peels of fruits and vegetables, and some vegetables move material through the intestine and increase stool bulk.
In general, ample water is needed to make sure a diet high in fiber does not cause constipation. Lack of water is often times the cause of irregular stoolling patterns.
Things you can do to try to improve constipation/irregular stooling patterns:
1) Get plenty of fiber, but remember to top if off with plenty of water.
2) Get moving! Activity helps improve intestinal motility and decreases stress.
3) Cut out unnecessary caffeine and alcohol.
4) If things are still not improving seek medical advice. (There are medical conditions, which can lead to constipation and these should not be overlooked.)