In simple terms, constipation is when you experience difficulties in opening your bowels or don’t open them regularly. If you find yourself opening your bowels less than three times a week, it’s highly likely the result of constipation. Constipation is usually caused by a lack of fruit and vegetables in the diet, as well as an insufficient amount of fluid and general inactivity. It can also be brought on by stress, anxiety or depression or may be the side effect of medication you’re taking. It can also be brought on by stress, anxiety or depression or may be the side effect of medication you’re taking.
Constipation can be deeply unpleasant and even painful if you find yourself straining hard enough. You may find that your symptoms are accompanied by feelings of nausea and a sore or bloated stomach. There is no age group that is particularly susceptible to it and it can occur in people of all ages.
Whilst pharmacists can provide certain laxatives to make the passing of excrement easier, there are certain lifestyle choices you can make to lessen the risk of constipation. These are simple choices and will not require much effort on your part. To begin with, you should drink plenty of fluids such as water while avoiding excessive alcohol consumption. Dehydration commonly leads to constipation.
Certain studies have found that sparkling water may be more beneficial in relieving constipation than still water. Avoid drinking soft drinks when you’re constipated as these are liable to make your complaint worse. Of course, you do not have to limit yourself solely to water. Drinks such as green tea, black tea and coffee will all contribute towards your daily fluid intake. Coffee in particular can be helpful, as some studies have found that it can stimulate your gut in much the same way as a full meal can.
A high level of fibre in your diet should keep constipation at bay. If you increase your intake of fibre, you increase the consistency of bowel movements as well as how much waste can be passed at a given time. A recent survey has found that 77% of people who suffered from constipation found that increasing their fibre levels proved to be beneficial. If you wish to achieve this, you should incorporate foods such as beans, broccoli, apples, dried fruits, nuts, potatoes and even certain amounts of popcorn into your diet. In addition, consider starting or increasing your consumption of wheat bran, oats and linseed as these are also highly effective in raising your fibre level. An increase of magnesium in your diet may also prove to help alleviate constipation.
It can be found in foods as diverse as dark chocolate, avocados, legumes, seeds and certain types of fish such as salmon. Many types of food that are rich in magnesium are also high in fibre. Alternatively, you may wish to take magnesium supplements, which send water into the digestive system and soften the waste. While you are constipated, you should consider reducing your intake of cheese and milk. If you can stomach the idea, some surveys have found that coconut oil can help reduce the risk of constipation and recommend either one tablespoon or two per day to provide lubricant for the intestines. If swallowing it on its own seems unappealing, there are alternate means of taking it, such as mixing it with a cup of coffee or combining it with vinegar to create a salad dressing. Probiotics may also aid in preventing constipation as some people who suffer chronically have an uneven level of bacteria in their gut. Foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut are known to be rich in probiotics.
Apart from improving your diet, you should also see if your toilet routine requires any changes. It is important first of all not to ignore or delay your body when it tells you it’s time to open your bowels. You should also give yourself plenty of time to use the toilet and consider your posture when sitting down. Using a low stool as a footrest and raising your knees above your hips makes it easier for your bowels to open. It is also worth considering devising a schedule for when you go to the toilet, for example before going to bed and then again first thing in the morning. Constantly moving around, even if it is not for exercise purposes, can also aid in keeping constipation at bay.
Exercise is also believed to be important in maintaining healthy bowels. Even something as simple as a daily walk or run can make going to the toilet easier by keeping the bowels stimulated, particularly via the colon and the intestines. If exercising is something that daunts you, start off by setting yourself some small daily goals and gradually increasing them when you feel ready to. It is not known for certain that exercise will definitely ward off constipation, however certain studies have found that it tends to reduce the severity of the symptoms and improve the overall quality of life.
Usually, following these simple lifestyle changes will help to keep the threat of constipation at bay. However, there are some circumstances when consultation with a medical professional will be necessary. For example, if you find your constipation persists even after you have made these changes to your lifestyle for around two weeks or more or if you should find blood in your stools, these are signs that something more serious is afoot and you should consult your GP as soon as possible.
Constipation is unpleasant and can often be painful. It is something that everyone will experience from time to time. However, if you are prepared to make certain changes in your diet and other aspects of your life, you can drastically reduce the risk of suffering from it or if you already have it, you stand a better chance of getting rid of it without having to resort to medication.
This article along with all articles on this site are for educational and informational purposes only and must not be used or taken as a substitute in any form for any medical, psychological (mental) advice, medication you are currently taking or any alternative treatments without the prior advice, guidance and consent from your medical doctor. Please speak with your doctor first before making any changes to your diet or medicine as a result of reading any information laid out on this website or in this or any other articles.
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