We all get occasional problems with constipation. Most of us keep it to ourselves, being so embarrassed that we don’t even ask for help when it is needed. Let me address the “embarrassment” factor first though. If we look at our stool movements as a natural process which happens in our body in order to keep us alive, we will be able to see that there is nothing embarrassing about it at all.
This is not to say that we should broadcast it to the world, but taking the “embarrassment” out of the subject means that we can discuss it without going red in the face, at least with health professionals. It is a lot easier to treat constipation when at an early stage – by simply adjusting our water intake and nutrition, than using prescription medicines.
Effective elimination keeps our body free of toxins and our intestines clean, which in turn promotes effective absorption of nutrients in the gut. And with colon cancer rates on the rise, it is very important to keep an eye on any changes to our “poop” habits.
Possible causes of constipation
- Dehydration through excessive sweating (can be caused by heavy physical workload, exercise, illness and muscle weakness)
- Not eating enough ffibre-richfood. Often people who get constipated eat food which contains very little fiber. This includes products made with white flour, processed foods, sugar-loaded food and drinks and also meals which consist mainly of protein.
- Sedentary lifestyle slows down digestion and elimination, which leads to constipation.
- Not drinking enough water dehydrates and hardens the contents of the large intestine, which makes elimination problematic.
- Coffee and tea contain caffein which is a diuretic. This means that you need to drink water to help you stay hydrated and the stool soft.
- The elderly are more likely to suffer from constipation because their intestinal muscles become weak which makes elimination a problem.
- Bouts of diarrhoea are often followed by constipation – also due to dehydration and flushing out of the good bacteria.
- Loss of minerals – especially sodium – through dehydration. The best way to replenish it is by adding 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of Himalayan salt to about 1 litre of water. If you have kidney problems, high blood pressure or are pregnant – consult with your GP first.
- Unhealthy gut flora means irregular stool movements.
- An underactive thyroid gland also interferes with the toilet habits.
- Inadequate toilet facilities.
- Spinal injury can result in chronic constipation.
Other causes of constipation include
- Colon and rectal cancer
- Too much calcium in the blood
- Kidney failure
- Tumours and other problems in the bowel
- Flu and cold
- Anxiety and depression
- Womb prolapse
- Rectum prolapse
- Dependancy on laxatives
- Medications: antidepressants, codein-containing painkillers, anti-psychotic drugs, anti-epileptic medicines and quite a few others.
Dangers of overusing laxatives
There are various laxatives sold both over the counter and on prescription. The most well-known ones are senna-based (Sennocot and Dulcolax are the two most popular ones in the UK). They work by causing the muscles of the bowel to contract and expel the feces. There are also laxatives which bring water into the intestines – as in the case of lactulose. Tjere are also the ones which act by dissolving the surface part of the stool allowing water to soften it (Dioctyl). Then there are macrogols which bring water into the bowel from the body. They require extra water to be taken alongside them, to prevent dehydration.
While short-term use of laxatives helps to deal with constipation, we needn’t forget that long-term use will make the bowel too reliant on medicines. This can lead to desensitising the body to these medications, weakening of natural functions of the bowel – contraction and expulsion. It can all result in a “lazy” bowel and even more problems in the future.
Prolonged constipation – what can it lead to?
When constipation lasts for longer than 6 weeks, it should always be investigated. There may be underlying causes which need to be addressed urgently. Prolonged constipation can result in the following complications:
- Prolapsed uterus
- Prolapsed rectum
- Sluggish bowel due to over-use of laxatives.
The first four are very painful conditions and are difficult to treat once they have been established. It is possible to reactivate one’s bowel by simply drinking more water, exercising, taking magnesium, using magnesium oil and eating healthy foods which contain lots of gentle fiber.
Three easiest home remedies for constipation
- In the morning, as soon as you wake up, drink 1 glass of water on an empty stomach, lie down and press hard on the area about 5cm (2 inches) below the bellybutton until it start pulsating under your fingers.
- If it hasn’t made you go to the toilet, drink another glass of water with 1 teaspoonful of Epsom salt added to it. Apply magnesium oil over the stomach for better effect.
- Still a problem? Add fiber – 1 tablespoon of psyllum husks to 1 glass of water, drink before the husks turn into jelly. I get mine from Amazon and Ebay.
What else can relieve constipation?
- Senna – a mild natural remedy which helps to soften the stool
- Linseed – for better effect add hot water to it and drink when it cools down. You would need about 1 teaspoon of linseed and 1 cup of hot water.
- Beetroot juice and beetroot itself – boiled or raw.
- Prunes and prune juice.
- Roughage which comes with eating live produce – vegetables and fruit
- A Far Infrared Magnesium Wrap will deliver an optimal quantity of magnesium quickly and will promote peristalsis
- Magnesium supplements taken daily will keep you regular.
How to stop constipation from re-occurring
- Walk, jog or cycle daily. Nothing helps to keep it moving than regular exercise.
- Eat food that is high in soluble fiber. Drinking water mixed with psyllum husks is a good way to maintain gut health if you often get constipated.
- Drink live yogurt regularly, and take good bacteria supplements.
- Take magnesium supplements, apply magnesium oil over the stomach daily.
- Drink water – at least 8 glasses a day. Drink a full glass of water as soon as you wake up. I suggest investing in a good water filtration jug. Drinking water from plastic bottles is not the best thing to do, since toxins from plastic leach into the water and wreck havoc with our hormones.
- Cut down on tea and coffee – it takes water out of the body. Consider alternatives.
- Exclude junk food, sugars, and refined carbs.
- If you are on medication, check if its side effects include disruption of digestion and constipation. You may need to speak to your doctor about alternatives.
- Establish regular eating habits. This will train your eliminatory system into regular movements.
Whatever the suspected causes of constipation, always get it investigated, especially if it lasts more than 6 weeks. The same goes for diarrhoea and blood in the stool. While in the majority of cases causes are non-life-threatening, it is important to exclude any such possibility.
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