Preventing constipation 

There are a number of things you can do to prevent constipation, including making diet and lifestyle changes.

Fibre

Including enough fibre in your diet can significantly reduce your chances of developing constipation. Most adults don't eat enough fibre.

You should aim to have about 30g of fibre a day. You can increase your fibre intake by eating more:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • wholegrain rice
  • wholewheat pasta
  • wholemeal bread
  • seeds and oats

Eating more fibre will keep your bowel movements regular, because it helps food pass through your digestive system more easily. Foods high in fibre also make you feel fuller for longer.

It's important to increase your fibre intake gradually, because a sudden increase may make you feel bloated. Suddenly increasing your intake of fibre may also cause you to produce more wind (flatulence) and experience stomach cramps.

Read more about how to increase your intake of fibre and eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Fluids

Make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and steadily increase your intake when exercising or when it's hot. Try to cut back on the amount of caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks you consume.

Toilet habits

Never ignore the urge to go to the toilet, because it can significantly increase your chances of having constipation.

When going to the toilet, make sure you have enough time and privacy to pass stools comfortably.

Exercise

Keeping active and mobile will greatly reduce your risk of getting constipation. You should do at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week.

As well as regular exercise reducing your risk of becoming constipated, it will also leave you feeling healthier and improve your mood, energy levels and general fitness.

Read more about health and fitness and physical activity guidelines for adults.


Page last reviewed: 24/12/2015

Next review due: 24/12/2017