The elderly suffer from constipation more often than younger people. Symptoms include sluggish bowel movements, difficulty passing stools, hard stools, abdominal cramps, bloating and abdominal pain.
Constipation in older people can have several triggers. Causes include low fibre intake, but a lack of teeth can also contribute to the problem. Many people also do not drink enough fluids, but side effects of certain medications and a weakened digestive system can also cause constipation.
Certain diseases can also cause constipation. The list includes heart disease, diabetes, low potassium levels, too much magnesium in the body or an underactive thyroid gland, but high blood calcium levels and an overactive parathyroid gland can also cause digestive problems.
Changing your eating habits can help prevent constipation. Focus on eating fibre-rich foods, eat vegetables and fruit regularly and watch your daily fluid intake. Regular exercise can also do a lot to make constipation a thing of the past, and some supplements can also help you to avoid constipation.
What foods to eat if you are constipated? Beans, wholegrains, bran, vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, nuts and generally high fibre foods can help a lot.
Eat oatmeal regularly as it contains high levels of fibre, which softens the stools and makes them pass more easily through the colon.
Among dried fruits, prunes also play a prominent role in relieving constipation, as they are very high in fibre and contain fermented sugars such as sorbitol, which has laxative effects.
Chia seeds can also be useful as they are high in omega-3 fatty acids and calcium and are a great source of fibre. It can be made into puddings or simply mixed into yoghurt and eaten as such. Among fruits, raspberries are one of the most valuable as they are very effective in treating constipation.