Constipation is an infrequent or irregular evacuation of the bowels that can be best avoided or prevented naturally.
Constipation is a digestive disorder that occurs due to the slowing down of the intestinal movements when the digestive tract cannot effectively eliminate the stools or waste products from the rectum, making the stool hard and dry. Even though this is a common condition among today's population due to a sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary choices, it is necessary to take healthy steps to prevent constipation.
Constipation reduces the quality of life of many people. The food residues remain in the colon causing inflammation, gas, and discomfort.
The worst thing is that most people do not know how to prevent and treat constipation, which eventually results in the emergence of other digestive problems. Fortunately, constipation is generally easy to treat with changes in your lifestyle habits by adopting some measures to facilitate better digestion.
The common causes of constipation include:
Slow movement of stool inside the colon.
Insufficient quantities of fiber and water in meals.
Holding stool for long periods even in the presence of urge.
Drugs such as narcotics, antidepressants, antacids (especially those rich in calcium and aluminium), opioids, calcium channel blockers, iron tablets, antispasmodic, and anticholinergics.
Irritable bowel syndrome.
Pelvic floor disorders.
Inflammatory bowel disease.
Diseases like hypothyroidism, diabetes, celiac disease, colon cancer, Parkinson's disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and diverticulitis.
Habitually using laxatives slowly causes addiction to these drugs.
The person may eventually require increasing amounts of laxatives to move the bowels.
In some instances, the bowel will become insensitive to laxatives, and the person will not have bowel movements even with laxatives.
Causes for constipation in infants include:
Causes for constipation in elders include:
The symptoms of constipation may include:
Less than three bowel movements a week.
Stools become dry, hard, and lumpy.
Difficulty in passing stools.
Pain while passing stools.
Stomach ache or cramps.
Feeling bloated and nauseous.
A sensation of still wanting to pass stool despite your bowel being empty.
Constipation is more concerning when there is:
Weight loss or anemia.
Blood in stool.
A history of inflammatory bowel disease.
Family history of colon cancer.
New-onset constipation in older family individuals.
Eat a simple and natural plant-based diet such as whole-grain cereals, leafy greens, fresh fruits, and dry fruits, like:
Even though fibrous fruits and vegetables are good in general, a highly fibrous diet may worsen the issue, especially when the underlying reason for constipation is intestinal blockage or inflammation of the jejunum (a part of the small intestine).
Chew the food properly, and avoid drinking water while eating.
Eat less fatty, oily, greasy foods and meat. Restrict tea, coffee, and sweet foodstuff, including sweetened carbonated beverages or packaged juices.
Including fiber-rich foods, especially soluble and non-fermentable fiber, can help treat constipation. Many doctors often advise people to increase their dietary fiber intake. This is because increasing fiber in the diet can increase the bulk and consistency of the stools, making them easier to pass through the digestive system more quickly. In a study, it has been found that 77% of people with chronic constipation benefited from more fiber intake. But, in some studies, it has been found that increasing the fiber intake can sometimes make the problem worse. Dietary fiber can improve stool frequency, but it may not help with other symptoms of constipation, like pain, stool consistency, bloating, and gas. The different types of dietary fibers are insoluble fibers and soluble fibers.
Insoluble Fibers: They will be present in wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. These can add bulk to stools and may help them pass it more quickly and easily through the digestive system.
Soluble Fibers: They will be present in barley, oat bran, nuts, beans, seeds, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. Soluble fibers can absorb water and form a gel-like paste, which helps to soften the stools and improve their consistency. Insoluble fiber can worsen the functional bowel movements in people with IBS or chronic idiopathic constipation. The daily recommended dietary fiber intake is 25 grams (g) for females and 38 grams (g) for males.
It is crucial to drink more water, at least 8-10 glasses of water daily unless advised by your physician otherwise. Being dehydrated often can cause constipation in a person. To prevent this, a person must drink enough water and stay hydrated.Some people might find relief from constipation by drinking carbonated (sparkling) water. This can be effective in people with dyspepsia, indigestion, and people with chronic idiopathic constipation. But drinking carbonated drinks like sugary soda can have harmful effects and may make constipation worse. A few people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) find that carbonated drinks may worsen their symptoms, so they should avoid sparkling water and other carbonated beverages.
Exercising daily for at least 30 to 45 minutes can help cure constipation. Brisk walking is the best and safest exercise. People working from home or whose work does not involve intense physical activity should take regular breaks from their work and walk around a little for about 5 minutes or so, free themselves, and then resume work.
Consuming coffee can enhance the urge to go to the bathroom in some people because coffee can help to stimulate the muscles in the digestive system. Coffee may also contain small amounts of soluble fibers that help prevent constipation by improving the balance of gut bacteria. The bowel-stimulating properties of caffeine may be more effective in people with IBS, making digestive symptoms worse. Therefore, people with IBS should avoid caffeine from their diet to see if it helps.
Doing abdominal massage, either by yourself or by a trained masseuse, helps tone the abdominal muscles and facilitate intestinal peristalsis, thereby aiding empty bowels.
Sitting in vajrasana post meals or dinner aids digestion and, in the process, helps get over the constipation issue too.
Avoid frequent use of purgatives or laxatives. Use them only when needed.
Last but not least, you must reduce mental stress and strain and do relaxation exercises, like yoga and meditation, daily.
Last reviewed at:
16 Sep 2021 - 5 min read
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