Constipation is a sign that the body needs more fiber and fluid. It occurs when one has fewer than three bowel movements in a week or bowel movements in the form of hard, dry, lumpy stools which are difficult and even painful to pass. The person may experience stomach upset or cramps, bloating and loss of appetite. Stress, anxiety and depression also leads to constipation along with intake of some supplements like calcium and iron.
Constipation makes one feel as if they are unable to completely empty the bowels. It is a common problem which everyone experience occasionally. Constipation surely leads to weight gain and discomfort. It is more common in women than in men.
There are a number of causes of constipation like side effects of some medicines or some digestive system disorder but the main cause is a low fiber diet. The daily requirement of fiber for women is at least 25 grams and for men is at least 38 grams. With age, the fiber requirement drops for women to 21 grams and men to 30 grams. Dietary fiber plays an important role in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Getting the right amount of fiber by eating more fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grain cereals , breads can help alleviate constipation.
Life style changes to cure Constipation
- Being physically active, during regular exercise is very important to avoid constipation. Physical activity stimulates the intestinal muscles to work more effectively and decreases the amount of time needed for food to move through the intestines so the stools stay moist.
- Doing Yoga is a good way to relieve constipation. Pranayama or breathing techniques also aids in relieving constipation.
- It is necessary to try to have a bowel movement at the same time every day and one needs to reserve plenty of time for a bowel movement. There should be a regular routine and body’s internal clock set.
- It is recommended not to resist the urge to have abowel movement. One needs to go as soon as one feels the urge. When one ignores the urge to go to the bathroom, there is more time for water to be extracted from the stools into the body making them harder to pass. Straining can lead to piles and fissures or rectal prolapse.
- One needs to take at least 8 glasses of water daily as water lubricates the intestines and moistens the food, aiding it to flow through the body. Water and fruit juices are better compared to soda and coffee which can actually dehydrate the body.
- Bowel movements depends on the intricate signaling between the gut and the brain so if the brain is under stress, the bowel is too. It is very important to deal with stress for speedy recovery.
- A regular eating habit, not skipping meals and chewing the food properly before swallowing is very beneficial in relieving constipation.
Diet to Cure Constipation
- Fiber is a part of plant foods that the body cant break down. Foods have a lot of fiber, the extra bulk helps keep stools soft and speeds digestion.
- It is recommended to take two cups of fruits and 2 and half cups of vegetables every day to relief constipation.
- Beans or legumes are the best sources of fiber. Beans can be added to the salad, taken as soups and stews or as cooked vegetables. Beans have 10 grams of fiber per cup which is a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber and helps the food moving through the intestines. Beans could be baked beans, black eyed peas, garbanzo beans, lima beans, pinto beans and kidney beans. All are great for relieving constipation.
- Fruits that helps in relieving constipation include pears, plums, papayas, oranges, berries like raspberries, black berries, blueberries and strawberries, kiwi, dates and apples. Eating ripened mangoes at night after meals followed by a glass of milk helps in relieving constipation fast. Dried fruits also is a smart choice as it contains more fiber than fresh fruit per serving. One can try prunes, figs, raisins and dried apricots. Taking Prune juice helps a lot in relieving constipation.
- Vegetables like Sweet Potatoes, Asparagus, Brussel Sprouts. Figs and Brocolli are great in overcoming constipation.
- Popcorn which are air popped are a good choice of high fiber snack. The movie theater popcorn or the ones with butter on them have fats that may cause constipation.
- Nuts like almonds, pecans and walnuts are high in fiber content. They should be taken on daily basis.
- Seeds like flaxseeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds are good in relieving constipation. One may soak fenugreek seeds or green grams and have them in the morning. Other seeds may be put directly in cereal, oatmeals, vegetables, in salads etc.
- Whole grain bread is a good source of fiber.
- Using spices like carom seeds, black pepper and cardamom facilitate proper assimilation and excretion of wastes.
- In case of severe constipation, it is advisable to take one spoon of castor oil or olive oil on empty stomach in the morning.
- These oils helps in softening the stool and relieving constipation within few hours.
Foods to avoid by constipation
- Foods to avoid during constipation are banana, gluten, caffeine, alcohol and chewing gum.
- It is recommended to avoid fried foods and vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes and nuts like cashews during constipation.
Treatment of constipation
- Treatment for constipation depends on its severity, duration and cause. It is very important to increase the fiber intake in the body gradually so as to avoid getting gas or diarrhea. Stimulant laxatives may be taken occasionally.
- It is very important to have our digestive system working in coordination with our excretory system so that the body gets all nutrients and energy level gets enhanced by eliminating the toxins. Constipation should be taken seriously. If there is blood in the stool or severe belly pain or unintentional weight loss, it is important to consult a doctor right away.