In a study published in BMC Gastroenterology, researchers sought to explore the correlation between changes in the occurrence of chronic constipation and dietary phosphorus intake among adult respondents of the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES).

Researchers obtained data from the NHANES database between 2005 and 2010, and the evaluation was comprised of a total of 13,948 individuals aged 20 years and older.

Employing the respondents’ 24-hour dietary records, dietary information was gathered, and researchers performed multiple logistic regression analyses to assess the correlation between phosphorus intake and poor bowel movement.

The researchers wrote, “Our definition of chronic constipation was based on stool frequency and consistency, which were derived from the number of bowel movements and the Bristol Stool Form Scale, respectively.”

The primary and secondary outcomes were constipation, defined by stool consistency and stool frequency, respectively.

Observations revealed a major correlation between chronic constipation and each additional 0.1-g intake of dietary phosphorus (odds ratio [OR], 0.97; 95% CI, 0.95, 1.00; P = .034 for stool consistency vs. OR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.90, 0.99; P = .027 for stool frequency).

Moreover, the researchers indicated that after multivariate adjustment in model III, utilizing the stool frequency definition, the OR values and 95% CI from the second to fourth quartiles compared to the first quartile (reference group) was 0.92 (0.66, 1.27), 0.73 (0.47, 1.13), and 0.39 (0.20, 0.76), respectively.

Based on their findings, the authors wrote, “ Our study showed that regardless of the type of constipation, the prevalence of chronic constipation gradually decreases with increasing dietary phosphorus intake after adjusting for relevant confounders. We observed a non-linear relationship between dietary phosphorus intake and constipation.”

Examples of factors observed in this study that were linked with an augmented incidence of constipation following the stool consistency definition that was also observed in other cross-sectional studies included being female, having a lower educational status, having a lower BMI, sedentary lifestyle, having poor oral health, and lower dietary phosphorus intake. Other factors cited included no history of hypertension, diabetes, smoking, or alcohol consumption.

The authors concluded that their study showed a negative association between the intake of phosphorus and incidence of chronic constipation, which is possibly due to the fact that dietary intake of phosphorus is linked with softer stools and increased frequency of stools.

“The improvement of constipation may be related to the fact that dietary phosphorus intake softens the stool and increases stool frequency. This finding provides suggestions for alleviating constipation symptoms. The findings of this study should be verified with prospective studies involving a more diverse population,” the authors concluded.

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