Chronic Constipation: The Scoop on Poop
Did you know in United States alone about 60 to 70 million people are affected by digestive diseases and chronic constipation is the leading cause of all digestive issues?
While it may seem harmless problem at first but recent studies have linked chronic constipation to problems like weight gain, hormonal imbalances, low immunity to more serious diseases like cancer.
Dehydration, poor diet, medications, illness, lifestyle and stress are the primary causes of chronic constipation.
If you are one of the people suffering from chronic constipation the good news is that it can be cured naturally. Here are 10 simple strategies to treat this condition without medication:
- Eat more fiber : I think we have all heard it many times that a diet high in fiber helps add bulk and weight to stools, soften them and stimulate bowel movements. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both are important for maintaining normal bowel movements. Soluble fiber absorbs and binds to toxins so they can be excreted out of the body and also keeps stool soft because it absorbs water. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and also acts like a broom, helping to sweep things out of the intestine. Eating fruits such as figs provides a significant dose of fiber that can help your bowels begin to operate correctly. Dried figs are loaded with fiber — as little as 4 figs can do the magic! Another option is taking Psyllium Husk (Isabagol), which is rich in soluble fiber and some insoluble fiber. In patients with chronic constipation, taking 5 g of psyllium twice daily improved stool consistency and frequency. Other great sources of fiber are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts.
- Drink Water: This is a no-brainer but unfortunately still a lot of people are not drinking enough water in a day. When your body is properly hydrated, less water will be withdrawn from the colon. This will keep your stool soft and easy to pass. Make it a habit to drink 8-10 cups of warm water throughout the day. Please remember to not drink water WITH your meals. 30 minutes before or 30 minutes after the meal is the ideal time to drink water.
- Add fermented foods to your diet/Probiotics: Improve your gut health to treat constipation at the root. Fermented foods have been a well-established part of the human diet for thousands of years but its benefits have been well researched only recently. Adding fermented foods to your diet have shown to alleviate many gastrointestinal issues, including constipation. Here are some examples of fermented foods – Yogurt (preferably homemade), Kefir, Kimchi, Khamboucha, Sauerkraut, Miso, Dosa, Kanji, some cheeses, pickle (achar). With so many options to pick from, I am sure you can find one that meet your taste preferences. Another option is to supplement with Probiotic over the counter supplements until you find a way to add more fermented foods in your diet.
- Triphala: Triphala is an ancient Ayurvedic herbal formula made from the dried fruits of haritaki, bibhitaki, and amalaki. It’s not habit-forming and it doesn’t irritate the bowels, making it a great formula for treating constipation. Triphala tend to be gentler than over-the-counter laxatives, nourish the digestive tract and help produce regular bowel movements. It can help to naturally cleanse the colon.
- Diet: As you know your diet plays a critical part in your overall health, make sure you are eating more unprocessed foods and avoiding junk carb and sugar laden foods which can trigger constipation. Have more vegetables soups and add soft foods like khichdi and dahi. Some people have adverse effects of eating too many raw vegetables. If that is the case, make sure you lightly cook or steam the veggies before consuming. It is easier for your stomach and digestion.
- Exercise : Make sure you are moving and not spending your whole day sitting when you are constipated. According to WebMD- Exercise helps constipation by lowering the time it takes food to move through the large intestine. This limits the amount of water your body absorbs from the stool. Hard, dry stools are harder to pass. Plus, aerobic exercise speeds up your breathing and heart rate. This helps to stimulate the natural squeezing (or contractions) of muscles in your intestines. Intestinal muscles that squeeze better will help move stools out quickly. Find any exercise you like to do and incorporate it in your lifestyle. The benefits you gain will improve your overall health, not just constipation.
- Good fat/Omega-3s: Are you following a low fat diet or eliminating any food groups completely? Fat is not only needed for our hormones, cell walls but also a key enabler of good digestive. Make sure you are eating healthy fats with all meals which includes Ghee, coconut oil, Avocados, Nuts, Fish etc. Supplementing with high-quality Fish oil which is high in Omega-3 also boosts digestion and relieves constipation.
- Sleep/ Stress: Your bowel movements can be affected by stress that you experience during the day. Everyone has stress that is unavoidable in their lives, but when it is excessive, it can negatively impact your whole body, including your gut health. Try meditation, relaxation and improve your sleep quality to reduce constipation. Believe it or not your sleep position can also impact your digestive and gastrointestinal health. Sleeping on the left side aids digestion and lets food waste easily move from the large intestine into the lower colon, meaning you’re more likely to have a bowel movement when you wake up.
- Squatty potty: It is no secret that squatting is the best position for complete elimination. Western toilets do not aid in the bowel movement and can often restrict and put strain on the excretion process. The footstool helps sitters assume a squat-like position while conducting their business. And that position appears to alter an individual’s anatomical angle in a positive way. Squatty potty is footstool for that particular purpose and is available at all major retailers.
Hope some of these work for you but whatever it takes please make curing chronic constipation a priority before it leads to any major illness.
Feel free to comment or reach out if you have any specific questions.