Diploma in Diet n Nutrition, BHMS
5 practical ways to manage constipation
Constipation is one of the most common health problems. Unhealthy eating practices, inadequate sleep, sedentary lifestyle and stressful life are some of the common triggers for constipation.
Symptoms of constipation include two or less than two bowel movements in a week, hard and dry stools, bloating and feeling of fullness. In severe cases of constipation, you may also have small amount of blood in your stool due to bleeding hemorrhoids.
Some of the common causes of constipation are lack of fiber rich diet, lack of exercises and physical activity, immobility due to age and illness and overuse and persistent use of laxatives. Constipation may also be another symptom of health disorders such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, hypercalcemia and irritable bowel syndrome.
Ways to manage constipation:
Here are five effective ways to prevent and treat constipation:
1. Exercise regularly
-follow an exercise regimen which may include a combination of several activities such as weight bearing exercise, muscle strengthening exercises, running, walking, jogging and physical exercises.
- these exercises stimulate the bowel movements regularly and help to keep the body healthy.
- brisk walking and aerobic exercises has also been found to stimulate and aid the bowel movement.
- if you have an option of taking the elevator or the stairs, opt for stairs. This will keep you mobile during your work hours.
2. Increase dietary fiber
- correction of the dietary intake is the key to prevent constipation. It is recommended to take naturally available fibrous vegetables and fruits than to aid the diet with supplementary fiber.
- increase the intake of fiber rich vegetables such as beans, bran cereals, brown rice, raw fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. It is recommended to have close to 20-35 grams of fiber daily.
- make sure you add salads to your meals. Include sprouts, carrots, leafy vegetables and fruits in your salads.
- in case of consistent constipation, avoid intake of processed foods and beverages such as cheese, dairy products, meat and packaged foods
3. Increase fluid intake
- drink water (6-8 glasses) throughout the day. This will improve the bowel movement significantly.
warm water during the daytime also helps in increasing the excretion of stools during constipation.
4. Opt for lifestyle changes
- changes in the lifestyle such as having a balanced diet, regular exercises and optimum sleep can significantly help constipation.
- fix a regular time during the day for the bowel movement. It helps the body to follow a routine.
5. Try natural remedies
- in case of chronic constipation, take herbal laxatives such as isabgol and triphala with warm water before going to sleep. They will improve bowel movement and aid the excretion process
- studies suggest that castor oil, due to its laxative properties, was found to relieve constipation significantly. Due to its instant effects, it is recommended that it is not consumed orally before going to bed. Instead it is advised to take it in the daytime.
- there are broadly two types of herbal stimulants (bulk forming stimulants and stimulant laxatives) for relieving constipation.
- commonly used bulk forming laxatives include, fenugreek, flaxseeds and barley. Commonly used stimulant herbs include aloe and senna. However, these herbal laxatives are advised to be used in less potency. Therefore one must consult a doctor before opting for these remedies.
In case your symptoms persist, you can try some over the counter laxatives. However make sure your body does not become dependent on these options. Consistent use of laxatives can deplete the food off essential nutrients in severe cases, consult a doctor who can further evaluate the problem and suggest medications. Stay healthy, stay happy!