Attention Seniors: Hydration May Prevent Constipation Better than Fiber

By May 15, 2013Healthy Aging

Constipation is a common problem for many seniors. This is especially true when seniors are not able to exercise, drink enough fluids or eat enough fiber in the diet. Constipation can also be triggered by certain medications that decrease bowel activity. As we age, intestinal activity tends to slow down as well, increasing constipation in many seniors.

While the standard treatment for constipation in most seniors is to increase fiber intake, a new study actually shows that hydration may be the better treatment when it comes to preventing constipation.

Incidence of Constipation

It is estimated that up to 14 percent of people around the world experience constipation on a regular basis. Normal bowel movements are soft and easy to pass. When they become difficult to pass or harden, or you do not have a bowel movement for over two days, you should consider yourself constipated. If you don’t have a bowel movement for three to five days, you will likely experience feelings of bloating, pain, nausea or vomiting. These symptoms should be reported to your physician immediately.

The Research

In order to conduct the research study, over 8,000 men and women were evaluated. Researchers examined stool consistency, physical activity and diet of each participant. Around 7 percent of the participants were found to have constipation.

The condition was more prevalent in women than men, but neither exercise nor fiber intake was linked to the likelihood of constipation with this focus group. What was surprising, however, was that constipation was more prevalent among the participants who drank the least amount of liquid on a daily basis. In fact, 8 percent of men and 13 percent of women who did not drink enough were constipated. This is compared to 3 percent of men and 8 percent of women who drank the most liquid daily.

The Bottom Line

While exercise, diet and fiber intake are still considered to be the staples of constipation treatment and prevention, this research study also goes to show the importance of hydration. Seniors are encouraged to drink 8 glasses of water each day. Along with being essential for your health, drinking enough water just might prevent constipation.

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