…From constipation. Don’t take it sitting down.
Get rid of constipation
Constipation may be unpleasant and embarrassing, but it should never be ignored. Even occasional constipation can leave one feeling bloated, uncomfortable and sluggish.
Constipation means having difficulty with bowel movements, such as straining, producing lumpy or hard stools, a sensation of not emptying your bowels, and having fewer than three movements per week. There are two types of constipation: Sporadic (the kind that occurs occasionally or during certain times like travel when your diet is interrupted) and chronic, which persists for months or years. Why do you get constipated? During the digestive process, as food moves through the colon, water is drawn out, leaving a solid waste product (stool). If too much water is removed, the stool becomes hard, dry, and more difficult to pass. The good news is that constipation is often easy to treat and manage with lifestyle changes.
Fibre is important as it holds water in your bowel, which makes stool softer and easier to pass. However, most adults do not eat enough. It is recommended to have 25 to 30 grams of fibre in food per day, but most adults average only 15 grams. There are many common foods high in fibre, such as beans, raspberries, peas and apples. (See ‘Fibre in Foods’). However, overload of fibre all at once can have the opposite effect and cause constipation. Too much fibre can act like a ball of food in your gastrointestinal tract that slows down everything. Increase fibre by adding more fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains gradually to your overall diet.
Adequate water intake keeps everything moving along your digestive tract. Don’t focus on drinking a fixed amount like eight glasses a day, which can be stressful, but instead keep water around you – for instance, in a large water bottle – and drink throughout the day.
Beyond your diet, you can further manage constipation with exercise. Moving on the outside helps movement on the inside. The type of exercise doesn’t matter. The focus is not on intensity, but consistency. A 15-minute walk after eating can do the trick. If these lifestyle changes don’t work, or if you suffer from chronic constipation, you may need a stronger over-the-counter remedy like an osmotic laxative or a stool softener. Check with your doctor before trying any of these. He or she can recommend the best one and monitor your
dosage. Your doctor can also prescribe stronger remedies if needed.
Other urging issues
Constipation is often a side effect of common medications like prescription painkillers (opioids), antidepressants, blood pressure drugs like calcium-channel blockers, iron supplements, and antacids that contain aluminum and calcium. These drugs act on the nerves of the digestive tract, or make stools harder. You should consult your doctor about whether it would help change the dosage or frequency of your medicine. When and how you use the bathroom can also help prevent constipation. Don’t ignore the urge to go. The longer stool remains in your intestines, the harder it becomes and thus more difficult to pass. Also, try to prop up your feet on a low stool to raise your knees above your hips. This can help reduce straining.
Beyond your diet, you can further manage constipation with exercise. Moving on the outside helps movement on the inside. The type of exercise doesn’t matter. The focus is not on intensity, but consistency. A 15-minute walk after eating can do the trick.