Ever have that feeling like you just can’t go? You’re not alone. Occasional constipation is among the most common digestive complaints in the United States, affecting millions of Americans every year—and these days it seems to be landing more people in the emergency room, according to a new study.
Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston collected data from nearly 1,000 hospitals nationwide. From the information gathered, they were able to determine that since 2006 there has been a significant rise in ER visits for constipation—an increase of more than 40 percent. (That’s nearly double the increase in overall emergency room visits, say experts.)
Senior author Dr. Anthony Lembo and his team point out that infants and elderly adults were among those most likely to be brought to the ER for occasional constipation—most commonly due to symptoms of abdominal pain. And, while not all visits resulted in a hospital admission, the increasing number of ER trips definitely comes with a higher price tag: the cost of a single ER trip rose from $1,500 to about $2,300.
If anything, this new study spotlights the need to increase awareness about common factors that contribute to occasional constipation as well as the important dietary and lifestyle habits that support optimal bowel health and regular elimination. These include drinking plenty of water to and eating at least 35 grams of fiber daily from non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits.
Successful weight loss has a lot to do with what you put on your plate—especially if that plate includes plenty of fiber.‡ On top of countless other benefits including heart health and improved digestion and regularity, fiber has been shown to support weight management when included as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.‡
In a recent study conducted by the University of Calgary, researchers found that when obese mice supplemented their daily diet with a prebiotic fiber source, they were more successful at losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight than those who were not fed fiber. What’s more, the gut bacteria of the fiber mice changed over time to resemble the gut bacteria of leaner mice, indicating the fiber source had a positive effect on gut bacteria.
Just How Does Fiber Help with Weight Loss?‡
Numerous studies have shown that fiber has unique appetite-suppressing properties.‡ It expands in the stomach, taking up more space and helping you feel full.‡ It also slows the digestive process to help you stay satisfied after meals, and it triggers the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK), which tells the brain the stomach is full.‡ Foods high in fiber also help to “flush” unused calories from the body, essentially blocking their absorption and eliminating them via healthy bowel movements.‡
Are You Getting Your 35 Grams a Day?
Leading experts recommend consuming up to 35 grams of fiber every day, and eating more non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits is one of the best ways to increase your daily fiber intake. If you still find it a challenge to get 35 grams a day, fiber supplements may help. Look for a high-quality supplement that:
- contains a balanced ratio of both soluble and insoluble fiber;
- is made with natural and organically grown ingredients;
- includes lignan-rich flax fiber, soluble acacia fiber, or natural chia seed; and
- is psyllium-free to prevent cramping, gas and/or bloating.