There are a number of simple ways to prevent constipation:

  • Drink plenty of fluids each day – water is best; try to avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
  • Eat foods that are high in fibre such as whole grains, cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Fibre makes stools softer and bulkier so they're easier to pass. The recommended intake of fibre is 25 g to 30 g per day.
  • Avoid processed foods or foods with high fat or sugar content; they're low in fibre.
  • Don't hold back the urge to defecate.
  • Stay active by exercising most days of the week.
  • Don't use stimulant laxatives (e.g., bisacodyl*, senna) for long periods of time unless directed by your doctor. Doing so might cause your bowels to depend on laxatives for function.

*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.