Constipation is defined as a difficulty in passing stools or the infrequent passing of dry and hard stools. This condition can occur at any age, and most people will suffer with it from time to time. Constipation occurs as a result of food moving slowly through the digestive tract. Bowel habits vary widely in most people. It can vary from a bowel motion a few times a day to a few days a week. Natural treatment of constiaption can really help with the uncomfortableness that it causes.
There are many possible causes of constipation:
Lack of fibre in the diet.
Insufficient fluids in diet leading to dehydration.
Lack of regular exercise.
Underactive Thyroid (if you suspect this, refer to your GP for a blood test)
Over consumption of junk food
Medication (e.g. painkillers, iron supplements, blood pressure medicines)
As you can see, the causes of constipation range from diet, lack of exercise, through to emotional well-being. This condition is quite common amongst the elderly population. This is partly due to the slowing down of their digestive system, and more commonly on the painkillers that they are prescribed. It is quite shocking to see the number of elderly people who are prescribed codeine based painkillers. The main side-effect of these medicines is constipation. Most of these people are prescribed laxatives on a daily basis, which results in the large intestine and bowels becoming “lazy”.
Diet is the most important factor in preventing and treating constipation. By increasing the amount of fibre and fluids you will greatly reduce your chances of developing this condition and speed up your recovery. Fibre is found in many foods, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. It is important not to overcook the vegetables, as lightly cooked or raw vegetables will add more fibre to your diet. Wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, pulses, lentils and whole grain breakfast cereals are a good source of high fibre foods.
Fibre adds “bulk” and helps to soften the bowel motions. This helps to stimulate bowel contractions. Adding extra fibre to your diet also helps to lower cholesterol levels. Prune juice and dried prunes are an excellent source of fibre and should be added to your diet to speed up recovery.
Linseeds are a mix of insoluble and soluble fibre, which help to bulk and soften the motion. It is very important to drink around 2 litres (approx 8 glasses) of water a day, alongside the increased fibre intake. This will help to pass the extra fibre along the digestive tract.
Junk food and processed food can cause or worsen constipation. If you have constipation you should avoid fried food and dairy foods. These foods will place an extra burden on the digestive system and prolong the constipation. You should also cut down on flour based foods, such as pastries, cakes as these foods place an extra burden on your bowel.
Regular exercise is a must for good general health. Physical activity gets the abdominal area working, which speeds up the movement of waste through the intestines. Regular walking can help to relieve a bout of constipation.
Stress is a definite contributing factor in constipation. Stress is usually interpreted to be an emotional and psychological problem, but it actually affects the functions of the body. The human body reacts to stress by increasing the levels of adrenaline, which causes an increase in blood pressure and an increased heart rate. Normal body functions are also affected, such as a slow-down of digestion and constipation. If you are under periods of stress, you need to manage this to avoid physical conditions such as constipation. Please read the article Natural Remedies to help with Stress.
We hope you found this article on the natural treatment of constipation useful. Please let us know by rating it above.