Constipation is not only uncomfortable and painful, it is also very unhealthy.
Our bodies are designed so that we should eliminate waste material on a regular basis. Failure to do this results in faecal matter becoming impacted in the colon leading to physical discomfort. Also, when certain foods, particularly meat, degrade they produce carcinogens which can lead to infection.
The American Cancer Society state that:
“Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined.”
It is expected that nearly 50,000 individuals will die as a result of colorectal cancer in 2008. Preventing constipation is one way to help reduce this statistic so here are five helpful tips for constipation treatment.
1. Reduce the consumption of fast foods and foods
We live in a fast food society. Fast foods may fill you up but most fast foods lack nutrients and are often full of saturated fats which can lead to atherosclerosis. Many fast food combinations are also difficult to digest lack the fibre necessary to stimulate proper bowel movement. This leads to constipation.
Apply the 80:20 rule to your eating habits. If you must eat fast foods limit this to 20% of the time. For the remaining 80% of the time, aim to consume wholesome, freshly-prepared food.
2. Increase your intake of fibre-rich foods
The best way to achieve this is to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables while avoiding the excessive consumption of dairy and meat products. Fibre absorbs water adding bulk to your stool so that it is more easily eliminated from the body. However, that not all fibre is created equal. Wheat, high in gluten can be constipating and so eating more bran can actually backfire.
Oats and flax seeds contain soluble fibre which can be helpful in preventing constipation and in helping to control hunger. You can bulk up the fibres in flax seeds and oars by soaking in water before ingesting which leads to my next tip.
3. Ensure you have an adequate fluid intake
If you do not drink sufficient fluids then when faeces reaches the rectum the body will re-absorb water from your faeces resulting in harder and drier faecal matter which is more difficult to pass from the body – constipation.
Aim to drink the equivalent of eight glasses of water or herb tea a day. Also, starting the day with some warm water and lemon juice is a great way to re-hydrate and gently cleanse the digestive tract. It will also assist you in having an early morning bowel movement.
It is also important to drink plenty of water if you have a fibre-rich diet as fibre is water absorbent and an inadequate fluid intake can result in you not having enough water for your bodily needs.
Keeping active will help you to maintain regular bowel movements
Individuals who do not exercise regularly will often develop constipation.
You don’t have to join a gym. Any form of physical activity will be of benefit so you can consider combining social activities with exercise. For example take a brisk walk in the park, go cycling or go dancing.
Exercising also helps to relieve stress which can also be a factor in causing constipation.
5. Improve your rhythm
Generally if your digestive system is in order then you should feel the urge to go to the bathroom after every meal. This is because the opening of the stomach valve should activate the opening of the ileo-caecal valve (ICV) that separates the small from the large intestine. The ileo-caecal can become inflamed if you eat foods to which you are allergic or if you eat very spicy foods and this inflammation can result in the ileo-caecal valve not working as it should.
The solution is to avoid foods which could cause an adverse intestinal reaction for a few weeks. You can also seek relief by physical manipulation as practiced by some naturopaths, nutritionists and kinesiologists.
Dry-skin brushing using a natural bristle brush can also help stimulate your large intestine. Brush in a clockwise direction starting on your right side and move up then across and then down can also help to keep you regular and so avoid constipation.