By Dr. Ritu Krishnatreye, B.H.M.S.
Chronic constipation treatment
Constipation is a common gastro-intestinal problem that affects almost everyone at some time during their lives.
Occasional constipation is common, but chronic constipation is not as common. It is a problem that can affect the overall well-being.
First, eat fewer foods that might be contributing to the problem. The biggest offenders include:
These foods are devoid of fiber or adversely affect healthy digestion. Processed foods are also responsible for causing constipation.
If your diet mainly relies upon ready-to-eat processed foods, you are more prone to suffer from constipation, because:
It has been observed that constipation is far less common in cultures where people eat a wide variety of unprocessed foods.
This is because unprocessed foods contain large amount of resistant starch and dietary fiber, both of which are essential for healthy bowel function.
Fiber provides roughage to push food through the digestive tract.
To overcome chronic constipation, consider including high fiber foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, pumpkin, carrots etc. as part of your daily diet.
Of course, most fresh fruits and vegetables are high in fiber. Also, wholes grains contain a good amount of fiber. Try including whole grain breads, cereals, oats or bran in your morning breakfast.
Ideally, we should get 25 to 35 grams of fiber in our diet each day. To avoid stomach bloating, discomfort and flatulence, add fiber rich foods gradually to your diet.
Each week, just increase fiber intake by five grams a day until you meet the daily requirement.
Prunes may be the oldest trick in the book for chronic constipation treatment. Prunes are dried plums. This highly nutritious fruit is known for its constipation-relieving properties.
Prunes contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. This makes stools soft and easier to pass.
A cup of prune juice provides 2.6 g. of fiber. The laxative effect of prune juice is due to its fiber, but also to the presence of sugar alcohol, called sorbitol.
Sorbitol takes more time to absorb than glucose and stays in the intestines for a longer time. This gives it more time to absorb water from the intestines.
Magnesium is well-known for its constipation relieving properties. Doctors prescribe it to clean out the bowels before surgery.
Magnesium is the active ingredient in chronic constipation busting products like Milk of Magnesia and Epson Salt. Unfortunately, these osmotic laxatives are only recommended for occasional use.
However, a magnesium supplement may be a longer-term solution, since it is designed for daily use.
Taking just 200 mg to 400 mg of a magnesium supplement each day may do the trick. Here is how magnesium helps to promote soft, easy to pass bowel movements.
80% of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diet. Because of this, taking a daily magnesium supplement may result in numerous health benefits.
A sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of constipation. For people who sit for most of the day, even a little exercise or physical activity may help in maintaining bowel regularity.
An active lifestyle also improves blood and oxygen flow, which can help to stimulate the natural contraction of intestines.
Good forms of exercise include swimming, biking, and playing with a pet. Even a brisk walk may help to stimulate bowel action.
Water works hand in hand with fiber and magnesium for chronic constipation treatment. We should try to drink at least two to three liters of water a day.
For those who find it hard to drink a lot of water, here are some other things that help hydrate (home remedies for dehydration) us:
Alcoholic beverages, (dehydration and alcohol) plus coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages should be taken in moderation.
Both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics. A diuretic increases the frequency of urination, which can result in dehydration.
Try to balance out excessive caffeine or alcohol intake by drinking more water.
It is best to establish the following regular bowel habits in childhood.
Make sure you go to the toilet when you need to go. When you ignore the urge to go to the bathroom, it gives extra time for water to be extracted from stool, making it dryer, harder and more difficult to pass.
Habitually delaying defecation when the urge comes may cause the urge to become weaker.
Take plenty of time to sit in readiness and allow the body to do its thing.
You may try different positions that may stimulate bowel movement. Squatting, putting your feet up onto a step stool or raising the knees higher than the hips may all help.
According to Dr. Mercola, squatting during defecation straightens the rectum, helps to relax the puborectalis muscle, which helps to promote the complete emptying of the cecum and appendix without straining.
Bowels appreciate kind treatment. They respond to a daily routine. With a little time and attention, you can kick chronic constipation for life.