Health Fo­cus

…From con­sti­pa­tion. Don’t take it sit­ting down.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

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 Ba­sics

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

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.

Water

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.

Ex­er­cise

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.

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