Harvard Health Letter

Easy ways to stay regular

Increasing fluids may help improve regularity. In general, healthy older adults should consume about 3 to 6 cups of fluid per day.
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Improve digestive health by addressing underlying causes of irregularity, as well as fluids, diet, and exercise.

Having regular bowel movements is a sign of a healthy digestive system, and it prevents the discomfort of diarrhea and constipation. But regularity is challenging in our older years. It is the job of muscles in the wall of the colon to squeeze digested food downward and eventually out of the body. "As we get older, these muscles become sluggish, so it's not uncommon to become more constipated," says Dr. Robert Burakoff, director of the Center for Digestive Health at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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