Millions of people around the world suffer from this term called Constipation. Yet very few of us take action to this condition unless it gets too serious. We try to brush it off and get used to it or use medications for it.
What is Constipation?
First of all, it is useful to understand how our digestive system works to get a grasp of why constipation can be dangerous in the long term.
So whenever we eat something, the food goes through our gastric pit, then to the small intestine where final digestion takes place and all the nutrients are absorbed through the intestinal walls.
So when the nutrients are digested from the food we ate, the only thing that remains is water and the toxic wastes, which need to be discharged from the body.
Hence when the food moves from the small intestine to the large intestine, the water gets reabsorbed into the system and the remaining toxic waste goes through to get passed as a stool.
So a person who is constipated will have difficulty in having those bowel movements on a daily basis. This condition could occur for various reasons.
A person could be acutely or chronically constipated due to
Traveling and having erratic schedules
Low fiber diet
Not drinking enough water
Eating too many refined foods
Being on medications
Lack of Physical Activity
Loss of muscle tone in the Colon
Colon Related Disease
There could be different reasons for everyone but it will lead to similar symptoms, some may have it worse than others or some may only experience it for a short duration, some might be facing it for years.
The following are common symptoms for Constipation.
Passing fewer than 3 stools in a week
Having to strain or put pressure on your colon
Experiencing difficulty or pain in passing stools
Having a feeling that not all waste has been passed
What can we do about it?
1) Increase fiber in your daily diet
You see, fiber adds volume to our stools, it acts as a lubricant that allows the stool to move swiftly through the colon and out through the rectum. So have a look at what you are eating and the amount of fiber that your meal consists.
When our stools are unable to move and unable to get excreted. the longer it stays in our rectum the more it hardens, which makes it a difficult job for us to push it out even furthermore.
This is why people who are constipated are often having to put a tremendous amount of effort to get some bowel movement every time they visit the loo.
So it's important to have at least 30 gms of fiber in our daily diet.
Sources of fiber
Fruits (Apple, Oranges)
Dry fruits ( Prunes, Figs, Raisins)
Nuts (Almond, Peanuts, Walnuts)
Lentils, peas, beans.
2) Increase water intake
So just like fiber, water adds to the lubricant effect of moving those stools through our colon. Fiber and water go hand in hand, one doesn't go well without the other.
So make sure you are hydrated throughout the day, One of the things which you can also do is to drink 3 - 4 glasses of warm water as soon as you wake up on an empty stomach and make sure not to have your breakfast at least until 30 - 45 minutes later.
It may sound a tad bit extreme but its a practice used by the Japanese and Chinese for centuries.
Drinking water on an empty stomach detoxifies the body and make sure that you have an optimal amount of water in your body even before you eat anything. Which lessens the possibility of being constipated.
You can also fill a bottle in your home and keep it beside you and have small gulps and sips throughout the day as compared to going to the kitchen when we are thirsty.
Remember, when you are thirsty it means the body is already at the brink of dehydration.
3) Become Active
A sedentary body is always at risk for one disease or another. When a person has a sedentary lifestyle the food takes longer to assimilate and digest. Exercising in general is a necessity for our body, so we must always remain active in some form or the other.
But in the context of constipation, exercising improves 3 things
It keeps your metabolism from slowing down
Improves blood circulation through the body including the digestive tract.
Improves muscle tone which is important for efficient bowel movements.
Hence staying active is a must. However, it's not the only solution, you must do the other points I mentioned together, so when combined they work in harmony.
People above 65 often tend to lack in physical activity. So for them, it doesn't have to be anything strenuous, just make sure to use your body for some movement, like a 30 minutes walk in the morning and in the evening.
why twice? because its important to remain active throughout the day. If we exercise for let's say 10 minutes a day and remain immobile for the rest of the day, it won't make a huge difference, especially in older people.
4) Improving Emotional Health
Let's understand one thing, At least 70-80% of our immune cells are located in our gut, It all depends on the right balance between our gut and the brain.
The happy hormone serotonin is produced in our gut. so when a person is constipated his/her gut will not be producing enough of the feel-good hormone, which could lead to anxiety and depression.
This is why being aware of the possible effects of this condition will help us anticipate the consequences better and we can take active steps to balance it out, through meditation, talking to a mental health professional, journaling, etc.
5) Avoid Ignoring body urges.
So some people when they get an urge to have a bowel movement, they may hold it back and wait for the next urge to come around. Due to different reasons, Maybe they are outside somewhere or Some do it due to plain laziness.
So what happens is, when you hold on to those toxic wastes in your body for long, the gases that come out of it could enter in places in the body where it shouldn't, which could lead to changes in hormonal balance, lack of appetite, inflammation in the colon, inability to lose weight, etc.
So whenever we get the urge to go to the loo, it's imperative to listen to the body and get the toxic waste out of it.
Constipation can be a serious condition, So its important to take control of it and take the necessary steps to get your digestive process back to how it should be.
because the accumulation of toxic wastes inside the body can be detrimental to our health and lead to negative physical and mental effects.
Important to keep in mind
The reason for constipation sometimes could be an underlying condition of something serious, so if your problem persists or worsens chronically even after making significant lifestyle changes its important to go to the doctor and get the relevant tests done to find out the root cause.