To say that constipation is unpleasant would be an understatement. It is embarrassing to talk about and painful to experience. It is also extremely common – most people will experience constipation at some point during their lives.
Constipation occurs when your bowel movements are irregular, infrequent and difficult. It can sometimes be hard to determine whether someone is truly constipated because our digestive systems are all so different. One person may experience 2 or 3 bowel movements in a day, while another person may have one every 3 days – and both experiences may be completely normal. However, it is a good rule of thumb that if you have fewer than 2 bowel movements in a week, you are probably constipated.
Causes and Treatments for Constipation
Constipation can be caused by a number of different things. It is important to determine the underlying cause of constipation, as it can occasionally be a symptom that indicates a very serious problem. If you experience regular constipation, do not ignore it. Here are some thing that may cause constipation:
- Many of us have a tendency not to drink enough water during the day. If you’re not getting enough water, it can lead to constipation.
- Consuming inadequate fiber. Many processed and sugary foods lack fiber, which our bodies need to regulate bowel movements.
- Lack of exercise or physical activity. Keeping active keeps your digestive system active, too.
- Taking certain drugs. Pain relievers, iron pills and antidepressants all have the potential to cause constipation.
- Constipation is just one of the negative effects of stress.
- Mental health and physical health are closely related.
- Pregnancy puts a lot of strain on the body.
- Neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- Colon Cancer.
In general, if you have hard stool, infrequent bowel movements, and a feeling of incomplete evacuation, you have constipation.
Some of the most common treatments for constipation include:
- Increasing fiber intake.
- Getting more exercise.
- Using over-the-counter laxatives, such as those containing Senna.
- Prescription laxatives.
Very serious cases of constipation may lead to fecal impaction, which requires manual breaking up of the stool by a doctor. While laxatives are a good short-term solution for constipation, it can be dangerous to use them for a long period of time. When you use laxatives you actually release the rectal muscles. As a result, those muscles weaken and may become less effective.
The bottom line is, it is better to treat the root causes of constipation than it is to treat the symptoms. The best way to do that is to include foods in your diet that help to prevent constipation.
Foods That Relieve Constipation
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the 10 best foods to help relieve constipation.
In addition to eating these healthy foods, make sure to drink enough water – at least eight glasses a day – and do what you can to relieve stress and anxiety. It may also be helpful to stick to a schedule when it comes to bowel movements. Don’t force it, but set aside time to use the bathroom, and take your time. It may help to lean forward slightly when you are on the toilet, as that position sends your body an “it’s time to go” message that may help trigger a bowel movement.