<p><strong>What Is Constipation? </strong></p>
<p>Constipation is more a complaint than a disorder—in fact, it is the most common gastrointestinal complaint in the United States. Constipation is characterized by infrequent bowel movements with stools that are often hard and sometimes painful to pass. The condition results when intestinal contractions slow down, allowing more time for the bowels to remove water from food wastes.</p>
<p>The normal frequency of bowel movements varies greatly from person to person—it is perfectly normal for some people to have three bowel movements a day, while others have as few as three a week. Constipation involves the passage of hard stools less than three times in a week, usually accompanied by bloating and discomfort. Any change in a person’s usual frequency of bowel movements, however, may be a sign of a more serious underlying disorder.</p>
Americans are notorious for spending outrageous amounts on laxatives and other remedies in their battle against chronic constipation. Product producers estimated that at least $725 million is expended yearly on the problem that plagues so many people. Women are two to three times more likely than men to encounter more problems with constipation because we have a slower transit time through our digestive system. Our intestinal tract is also longer. And there seems to be a hormonal correlation because women who are pregnant or post-menopausal report more problems than others. Apparently, estrogen helps with regulation, but this is not scientifically verified. Regardless of what's been tried, the most effective answers lie in behavioral strategies - activity and foods. Let's just review the foods that work and the ones that remain largely unproven.
The most important answer is to build a higher percentage of one's daily intake of food from plant foods...
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