Constipation is a common condition for as many as 30% of American adults. It affects 12% of the world's population and can be defined as three or fewer bowel movements a week or difficulty during elimination. Constipation is seen more often in older adults, especially those who are dehydrated, have low fiber diets, low physical activity or are on certain medications.
Water Absorbing Fiber
Fiber has long been known to help fight constipation. But prebiotic fibers can add an extra level of assistance. Both types of fiber – soluble and insoluble – absorb water as they pass from the stomach to the small intestine, the large intestine and ultimately are eliminated from the body.
Insoluble fibers provide bulk and absorb water, which helps everything move more easily through your digestive system. There are some mechanical benefits also, to the physical stimulation of your intestinal villi and large intestine walls that fiber provides. In third world cultures where foods are closer to what they've been for millenia, one, two or three softer stool movements a day are the norm. Far different than the results from the typical American diet.
Increased bulk, softer stool and shorter transit time, can help avoid medical issues like diverticulosis and ulcerative colitis. When there's less bulk, the muscles of the large intestine must contract more forcefully to transfer and eventually expel the smaller stool generated by a diet low in fiber.
Prebiotics are soluble fibers, which also absorb water, but additionally work to help keep your large intestine walls more healthy. They can promote normal muscular contractions that help move waste through, and out of your system. Having a healthier digestive system can help you avoid the complications of constipation – from simple discomfort to life threatening illnesses – while working to improve your overall health and immune system capabilities.