Constipation is usually defined as having three or less bowel movements in one week. If you are constipated, you may find it painful to pass a stool, and your stool might be hard or unusually dry. For some people, constipation can also make you feel bloated and lethargic. Constipation can be due to several reasons but the most common cause by far is diet and lifestyle. Constipation usually happens when food travels through your intestine too slowly. This means that too much water is absorbed, and your stool becomes hard and dry. The reason that food travels too slowly through your intestine is that you might not have enough roughage in your diet, which helps to form stools that can be pushed through. Fortunately, constipation remedies for this condition are fairly easy to include in your diet.
Diet & exercise
One of the best remedies for constipation that is related to lifestyle is to change your diet. Foods that are high in fibre can help a lot – try to get lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Another good remedy for constipation is to eat foods that include whole grains. Including bran in your breakfast is a great way to increase your fiber intake. You can also try wholemeal and wholegrain breads, and lots of pulses (beans, split peas, chick peas) While eating more fiber is important, make sure that you drink plenty of water too. Authorities recommend that men drink around 3 litres per day, and women a little over 2. If you aren’t drinking this much water or other fluid such as juice every day, this might be the cause of your constipation.
Another cause of constipation can be medication that you are taking. A range of medications can cause constipation, including:
- Iron Supplements
If you suffer constipation while taking these medications, talk to your doctor about how to treat the constipation or what alternative medications you might try to avoid the side effect.
Some constipation home remedies beyond simple dietary changes include:
- Natural supplements like flax seeds, Psyllium husks
- Vitamin C and Magnesium supplements
- The ubiquitous prune juice
Medication options that can be prescribed by your doctor include stool softeners which can make a stool easier to pass or a range of laxatives that help your bowel to expel its contents. These treatment options are generally used after natural remedies like changes to diet, and long term use should be avoided.
Constipation can also be caused by:
- Disorders of the nervous system
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Constipation remedies for these conditions might include an over the counter or home remedy like prune juice or increased fiber in the form of flax seed tablets or Psyllium husks. Your doctor might also prescribe a laxative or stool softener. It is important to seek medical advice if you suffer from chronic constipation, particularly if it is likely to be related to one of these conditions. If the constiption is a one off as a result of medication you can try a probiotic which helps to restore the natural balance of the good bacteria which help to break down food in the gut.
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