Constipation – No Laughing Matter
An occasional bout of constipation isn’t fun, but it’s manageable. While periodic constipation isn’t unusual, some people experience chronic constipation. This interferes with their ability to even perform simple daily tasks. Thus, chronic symptoms from this can also be a sign of underlying health conditions that need to be addressed.
by Jon Bender
What Causes Constipation?
It’s characterized by hard, dry stools or having less than three bowel movements a week. Thus, this can occur for numerous reasons, including the following.
- Dietary changes
- A low fiber diet
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive use of laxatives
- Consuming certain foods and beverages
- A decrease in water intake leading to dehydration
- Damage to the nerves that stimulate intestinal muscle contraction and relaxation
- A side effect of some prescription medications and supplements (antidepressants, opioids, diuretics, blood pressure medications, antacid and iron supplements)
Chronic constipation is linked to serious health issues, including diverticulitis, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, certain cancers, and more. This may be a sign of colon cancer in older males.
Treatment for constipation is typically based on the underlying cause. However, in most cases the following recommendations address the problem and get things moving again.
Boost Your Fiber Intake
The Cleveland Clinic has identified a lack of fiber (soluble) in the diet as the main cause of constipation. Also, along with disruptions in a normal eating schedule. Fiber adds bulk to the stool, softening it, which makes it easier to pass through the colon. Healthy, high fiber foods include beans, pears, apples, raspberries, prunes, broccoli, sweet potatoes, peas, spinach, and bran. Also, included are high fiber cereals. Eating high fiber foods is best when it comes to fiber intake. Also, there are supplements available that can help, if they’re from a reliable source.
Ditch Processed Foods
In this era of quick fixes, a lot of us have bought into the conveniences of eating processed food. Unfortunately, the refining process used to produce these “convenience” foods removes the majority of the natural, “good for you” fiber. Eating processed foods leads to constipation. It’s far better to consume natural foods. These include grains, fruits and vegetables. Much better than to get your snacks and meals from a bag or a box.
When it comes to relieving constipation, what you drink is equally as important as what you eat. The Cleveland Clinic has recommended drinking 2 to 4 additional 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This means a daily total of 10 to 12, 8-ounce glasses. Also, drinking herbal tea or plain warm water with lemon in the morning, can help get things moving. If you’re constipated, avoid drinking beverages that contain caffeine that can end up dehydrating you, making these symptoms worse. Milk can also cause constipation in some people, so it’s best avoided if you’re constipated.
You’ve Got to Move It! Move It!
Regular exercise, including walking, helps the digestive system function properly. Exercising gets the bowel moving. It fights constipation by reducing the time it takes for food to flow through the large intestine. Also, this helps limit the amount of water your body absorbs from the stool. Cardio exercises that get the blood pumping are one of the best ways to avoid suffering from it. Dancing, cycling, swimming, running, or a basic cardio workout will boost your heart rate and stimulate your bowels.
Yoga is another effective way to relieve constipation. Several specific yoga poses massage the digestive tract. Thus, really helps move the stool through the intestines. Especially those that include sustained torso twisting or crunching the stomach muscles. Deep breathing exercises also help improve digestive system performance by relieving the stress that can lead to constipation. It might require some trial and error to find exercises that are the most effective for you. Therefore, staying active is an essential part of reducing stress levels and avoiding constipation.
Regularly consuming omega-3s can help reduce chronic constipation. Omega-3 fats help by lubricating the intestine by providing a smooth surface. Thus, making it much easier for stool to pass. For example, good sources of omega-3s include tuna, salmon, halibut, hemp oils, nut oils, flax seed oil, cod liver oil, and probiotics. So, talk to your physician before starting a new supplement regimen.
Eat Probiotic Rich Foods or Take Probiotic Supplements
Probiotics can help protect against chronic constipation. Probiotics are beneficial, live bacteria that occur in the gut naturally. An imbalance of bacteria in the gut can result in chronic constipation. Consuming probiotic foods can help improve this balance and fight constipation. Try consuming probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
If you’ve been feeling backed up lately. To put it delicately, not “making” as often as you should. Also, feeling bloated and uncomfortable. You’re more than likely constipated. The suggestions listed here will help you get back on track.