Constipation: Symptoms and treatment
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Constipation affects people of all ages and different times of life and it’s normally caused by something you can fix. One of the best ways to treat constipation is to change your diet. Express.co.uk reveals what causes constipation and the two drinks to avoid to remedy the problem.
Constipation is really uncomfortable and can cause stomach aches, bloating and sickness.
If any of the following is true, it’s likely that you’re constipated:
- you have not had a poo at least three times during the last week
- the poo is often large and dry, hard or lumpy
- you are straining or in pain when you have a poo
What causes constipation?
Constipation has lots of different possible causes, but sometimes there is no obvious reason why you’re constipated.
Normally, constipation isn’t caused by a medical condition but it can be sometimes.
The NHS says the most common causes of constipation include not eating enough fibre such as fruit, vegetables and cereals, and not drinking enough fluids.
Constipation can also be caused by being too sedentary, not moving enough and spending too long sitting down or lying down in bed.
If you need to go to the toilet and frequently ignore the urge, that can cause constipation.
Sometimes a change in diet or your daily routine including when you eat your meals and your sleeping pattern can be responsible for constipation.
Constipation can even be a side effect of medicine or mental health issues such as stress, anxiety or depression.
If you’re pregnant or have recently given birth, constipation is a possibility but normal bowel movements should resume soon.
Changing how you eat and what you eat can treat constipation, according to Hannah Richards, nutritionist and founder of The Gut Clinic.
Make sure you don’t stress eat, otherwise you will continue to be constipated.
Hannah said: “The one reliable way of ensuing costively is moving your bowel after each meal which would require you to eat in a relaxed state at a table without your phone or computer so you are burning up cortisol (the stress hormone).”
You should also avoid eating in the car or walking and be sure to chew your food until it turns into a liquid.
Hannah explained: “Remember a stressed state equals constipation! The very act of eating food creates peristalsis along the tract- a series of wave-like muscle contractions that move food to different processing stations in the digestive tract.
“This will stimulate defecation. The process of removing faces from your bowels.
“For this movement to occur, the gastrocolic reflex should be unconscious.”
The gastrocolic reflex is a physiological reflex that controls the movement of the gastrointestinal tract after a meal.
The two drinks to avoid
The nutritionist said constipation is not a symptom of a poor diet, it’s a sign that the entire digestive system is sub-optimal.
Making sure you are hydrated and have adequate fibre in your diet, which would mean having vegetables at every meal, is an absolute requirement for a healthy bowel.
However, Hannah strongly advises against smoking and drinking any kind of alcohol or coffee in excessive amounts.
Instead, fill yourself with the following foods to help you go to the toilet with ease:
Grated Carrots: Grated carrots add fibre, water and vitamin A. They are an allrounder for digestive system health.
Magnesium: Magnesium creates movement in the bowel. If you take supplements, be careful not to overdose, though, or you will get the opposite effect.
Water: A lot of people are dehydrated and coffee and alcohol add to this state. Dehydration will leave you constipated, so try to drink six to eight glasses of fluid a day.
Kefir: Kefir is great for the digestive system because probiotics promote good digestive health and movement.
Apples: An apple a day keeps constipation away! Apples contain pectin which helps with digestion in the small intestines but also has a laxative effect.
Rhubarb: Rhubarb is not only delicious when in season, but it is also great for aiding bowel movement as it contains a compound called sennoside A, which has a laxative effect on the body.
Prunes: Prunes contain Sorbitol, which is a type of sugar alcohol that is poorly digested in the body. It helps alleviate constipation by drawing water into the intestines, spurring a bowel movement.
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