Constipation means different things to different people. Most commonly, it refers to infrequent bowel movements, but some interpret it as a decrease in the amount of stool. Others describe constipation as difficulty in passing motion, a sense of incomplete evacuation, or the need for medication to help pass motion.
There is no defined "normal" frequency of bowel movement. It varies from three times a day to three times a week; some people may go a week or more without experiencing discomfort or harmful effects. Bowel habits are affected by diet. The average Singaporean diet includes 12 to 20 grams of fibre per day, and is below the recommended 25 to 30 grams of fiber. Exercise is also beneficial to proper function of the colon.
About 80 percent of people suffer from constipation at some time during their lives, and brief periods of constipation are normal. Not passing motion does not result in poisons remaining inside your body. Widespread beliefs, such as the assumption that everyone should have a movement at least once each day, have led to overuse and abuse of laxatives.
Eating foods high in fibre, including bran, shredded wheat, whole grain breads and certain fruits and vegetables will help provide the 25 to 30 grams of fibre per day recommended for proper bowel function.