By Dr. Julia Lizy, MBBS (KEMU)
Constipation is a condition in which a person has dry, hard and difficult to pass stool.
Many times it is marked by having less than 3 bowel movements a week.
Here are some of the more common causes of constipation, along with ideas on how to deal with them.
Here are some common causes of constipation
Normally, foods that are high in hard to digest fats and proteins tend to slow down the digestion process, resulting in becoming causes for constipation.
Here are examples of food that is high in fat and proteins and low in fiber.
Fiber is needed to form bulky stool, which is needed to stimulate peristalsis.
Fiber is also helpful for water retention, to keep stool soft and slippery. Processed foods tend to be very low in fiber, since fiber is purposely removed to produce food that has a more appealing color, texture and taste.
It is best to consume a minimum of 25g of fiber a day, and preferably 35g per day.
Click here to read more about foods that can help to prevent constipation. To read more about those foods that can result in constipation, click here. As a remedy, cut down on high fat /low fiber foods and eat more foods containing fiber.
A fiber supplement may also be taken to help increase daily fiber.
Too little magnesium
Another key contributor to the causes of constipation is the lack of magnesium in our foods. Modern chemical fertilizers don’t usually include magnesium.
As magnesium is depleted from our soils, it becomes harder and harder to get our daily magnesium from our diet.
Magnesium, a mineral that helps muscles to relax, helps to counter the muscle tightening effect of calcium.
For most folks, taking a daily magnesium supplement may go a long way to regulate bowel movements.
Not only can it help to restore peristalsis, but it also serves as a natural osmotic laxative that pulls water into the colon. This helps to moisten stool, making it more soft, slippery and easier to pass.
Water plays a vital role in regulating stool. When a person is dehydrated, extra water is drawn from stool to be used elsewhere in the body. This results in stool that is dry, hard and difficult to pass.
When taken in excess, common diuretics like caffeine and alcohol tend to flush too much water from the body, resulting in yet another of the causes of constipation. Diuretics used to lower blood pressure also increase urine output.
To prevent dehydration, drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. Drinking juice and eating fruits and vegetables containing a good amount of water can also help.
For each caffeinated or alcoholic beverage consumed, drink an extra glass of water to help cancel out its dehydrating effect.
These days, too many people are stuck in a lifestyle with very little physical activity.
A lack of exercise can affect abdominal muscle tone, adversely affect peristalsis and promote constipation.
Even something as simple as taking a daily walk can help to remedy this problem.
Pregnancy and child birth both contribute to constipation.
It has been shown that between 40% and 50% of pregnant women will experience constipation at some point during pregnancy.
Constipation is also problematic right after childbirth, largely due to medicine and anesthesia used during the delivery.
Although it is best to address this problem with diet, a laxative may be necessary.
Taking 300mg to 400 mg of daily supplemental magnesium is a great way to get the magnesium needed to fight constipation while getting the extra magnesium needed for the health of both mother and child.
Most laxatives are habit forming. That is, with extended use, the body becomes dependent on their help for elimination.
For instance, stimulant laxatives like Dulcolax, Ex-Lax, Senna, and others irritate the colon, prompting peristalsis, the contracting of the colon that pushes stool along and out.
The more that stimulant laxatives are used, the less capable the colon is of peristalsis on its own. Fortunately, not all laxatives are habit forming.
Bulk forming laxatives and osmotic laxatives like magnesium sulfate trigger produce natural forces that invite proper bowel movements.
To prevent constipation, a doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend a different medication that causes less of a constipation problem.
A magnesium supplement may help to counter the constipating effect of supplemental iron and calcium.
Depression, worry and stress have been shown to have a dampening effect on peristalsis, slowing down the digestion process.
There are numerous natural ways to cope with depression and anxiety.
Hypothyroidism is caused by an under active thyroid gland.
The smooth functioning of thyroid glands play a vital role in our health, plus it can result in being another cause of constipation.
Stabilizing thyroid gland function is the best way to get relief from constipation caused by hypothyroidism.
Although chronic diarrhea is the most common cause of inflammatory bowel disease, constipation may also be a factor.
Magnesium citrate or magnesium sulfate can help to lessen the hardness of stool, thereby lessening inflammatory bowel disease caused by constipation.
Diabetes creates a lot of secondary diseases in the body.
It can cause nerve damage to the nerves controlling the colon, resulting in less peristalsis and constipation. Nerve damage is considered permanent.
Therefore, proper diligence must be taken to stabilize blood sugar levels.
There are numerous causes of constipation. Determining the cause of constipation is the first step in taking appropriate action to stop it.
It is my hope that the above information will help you in finding a way to reverse any constipation you are experiencing.