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NHS Choices Condition

Content supplied by NHS Choices

Although constipation is a common condition, there are several steps you can take to prevent it.


Make sure that you have enough fibre in your diet - most adults do not eat enough. You should be having approximately 18g of fibre a day. You can increase your fibre intake by eating more:

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

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

If you are increasing your fibre intake, it is important to increase it gradually. A sudden increase may make you feel bloated. You may also produce more wind (flatulence), and have stomach cramps.


Make sure that you drink plenty of fluids, to avoid dehydration. You should be drinking at least 1.2 litres (6-8 glasses) of water a day, and more when you are exercising, or when it is hot. Try to cut back on the amount of caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks that you have.

Toilet habits

Never ignore the urge to go to the toilet. Ignoring the urge can significantly increase your chances of having constipation. The best time for you to pass stools is first thing in the morning, or about 30 minutes after a meal.

When you use the toilet, you should try to make sure that you have enough time and privacy to pass stools comfortably. Do not feel as though you have to rush.


Keeping mobile and active will greatly reduce your risk of getting constipation. Ideally, you should do a minimum 30 minutes of physical exercise every day.

Not only will regular exercise reduce your risk of becoming constipated, it will also leave you feeling healthier, and improve your mood, energy levels and general fitness.

view information about Constipation on www.nhs.co.uk »

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