Have You Ever Wondered

. . . if taking mineral oil helps keep you regular? Taking mineral oil isn't recommended. It can promote the loss of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).

Being physically active, drinking enough fluids, and eating enough fiber are ways to stay regular—and avoid constipation. If these remedies don't work, ask a registered dietitian or your doctor for more advice.

  • Drink enough water or other fluids daily. Fluids help your stools stay softer, bulkier, and easier to eliminate. See page 464.
  • Consume plenty of fiber-rich foods: legumes, whole-grain breads and cereals, vegetables, and fruits. Fiber gives bulk to stools, making them easier to pass through the colon. For more about fiber for health, including fiber pills and powders, see chapter 6, "Fiber: Your Body's Broom."
  • Listen to nature's call! The longer waste remains in your large intestine, the more difficult it is to eliminate. The body continues to draw out water, so stools get harder.
  • Keep physically active and get enough rest. Both help keep your body regular.
  • Avoid taking laxatives, as well as fiber pills and powders, unless your doctor recommends them. Food may pass through your intestinal tract faster than vitamins and minerals can be absorbed. And some may cause your body to lose fluids and potassium. A cup of tea or warm water with lemon, taken first thing in the morning, can act as a gentle, natural laxative.

For more about dealing with constipation, see "Gastrointestinal Conditions" in chapter 22.

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