Constipation is one of the most common digestive problems in the world. Most people think constipation means not having frequent enough bowel movements. But in reality, constipation is more complicated and subtle than that, with a range of symptoms that you may not always recognize. We will list the most common reasons behind constipation, lifestyle modifications that help to relieve constipation and effective home remedies to treat constipation.
Definition Of Constipation
Medical definition of constipation actually requires a person to have just one of the below symptoms that include:
- Less than three bowel movements per week.
- Straining to start or complete a bowel movement.
- Stool consistency that looks like rocks or pebbles.
- A feeling of incomplete emptying.
Reasons behind Constipation
Constipation can be due to several underlying reasons. These include:
- Dietary changes, such as low fiber intake or not drinking enough fluids
- Eating a lot of meat or chicken
- History of Colon Surgery
- History of Gastrointestinal Disorders
- Intestinal Obstruction and Pregnancy
- Taking certain medications
- Low Levels of Physical Activity
Home Remedies to Treat Constipation
Intake of fiber
Intake of dietary fiber is the one of the most important home remedies to treat constipation. In most cases, the real reason behind constipation is because of the poor dietary choices in the form of:
Low intake of Fiber
Excessive consumption of junk food
Foods high in Fat and Sugar
Therefore, the immediate dietary modification that you should implement is addition of more fiber to your diet. This is because fiber promotes regular bowel movements, especially when a person combines it with proper hydration. Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. High fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lentils and chickpeas.
Drink Plenty of Water
You should drink water and other fluids, such as natural fruit/vegetable juices and soups, to help the fiber work better. This change will make your stool softer and easier to pass. When your body is properly hydrated, less water will be withdrawn from the colon.
Include Probiotics in your Diet
Our gut contains healthy bacteria that are normal commensals of our body and are important for the proper digestion of food. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for our digestive system. The benefits of including probiotics in your diet is, increased number of weekly bowel movements and helping soften the stools making them easier to pass.
Foods to Avoid to prevent Constipation
Alcohol is frequently mentioned as a likely cause of constipation. This is because when you drink alcohol in large amounts, it can increase the amount of fluids lost through your urine, causing dehydration. Poor hydration, either due to not drinking enough water or losing too muck of it through urine, is often linked to an increased risk of constipation.
Reduce Intake of Gluten Containing Foods
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Some people may experience constipation when they eat foods that contain gluten. Also, some people are intolerant to gluten.
Reduce Intake of Milk and Dairy Products
Dairy appears to be another common cause of constipation, at least for some people. Infants, toddlers and children appear particularly at risk, possibly due to a sensitivity to the proteins found in cow’s milk. Also, there are report of similar experiences in adults which is primarily due drinking milk the wrong way. Please check our post on drinking milk the correct way.
Lifestyle Modification to Manage Constipation
According to experts, exercise does more than strengthening your heart and muscles. Exercise is essential for regular bowel movements. In fact, one of the key things that leads to constipation is inactivity. About 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day is optimum.
Stress can contribute to many conditions, and constipation is one of them. Try meditation, relaxation, going to bed earlier and deep breathing to manage your stress.
Bowel retraining is important as it helps people who have chronic constipation. It involves trying to go to the bathroom at the same time every day in an attempt to help train your body to have regular bowel movements. You will need to set a time each day in which you try to have a bowel movement. After several weeks, you will ideally have a bowel movement around the same time every day.
Other lifestyle modifications
- Eating your meals around the same time each day
- Drink a glass of water right after you wake up
- Do some light exercise such as walking after having food
- Pack some seasonal fruits to eat as a snack
- Substitute white bread with whole wheat bread and white rice with brown rice.
- Get enough sleep