Constipation

Constipation

By
Dale Pinnock
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978 184949 543 1

Constipation is a big issue in the UK. It basically means that you are going to the toilet less frequently or that, when you do go, it is difficult and sometimes painful. Everyone is different, but in general it is usual to open your bowels one to three times a day. There is an old saying that it should be after each meal. I have seen people in clinic that can go a week to 10 days between bowel movements. This is constipation at its worst and the side effects are dreadful. The occasional bout of it is totally normal and everyone gets bunged up from time to time. The real problem is when it becomes a chronic issue.

Potential causes of constipation:

–Not enough fibre: As discussed, fibre is vital for keeping everything moving through the digestive system. It gives the gut contents their bulk and swells up to stimulate stretch receptors, which in turn stimulate peristaltic waves that move everything along. So many of us are not getting anywhere near the amount of fibre that we should; in fact, some people can go for days and days without consuming any.

–Not drinking enough: Fibre is only one part of the picture when it comes to keeping the gut moving properly. A high fibre intake is only as good as the amount of fluid you drink. Fibre delivers its beneficial actions by absorbing water and swelling up as a result, sometimes to many times its original size. It is this swelling that stimulates the stretch receptors, which then go on to stimulate peristalsis.

–Lack of exercise: Believe it or not, our activity levels can have a huge impact here. The evidence is unclear as to how exactly this influences gut motility, but it appears likely that physical activity may have some kind of influence on peristalsis, or physical movement of the gut contents. There may also be a stress-reducing link here. Studies have certainly shown that patterns of higher activity do indeed decrease digestive transit time and reduce constipation. Another reason to get out there and get moving. You don’t have to become a marathon runner, just go for a brisk walk. Take a dance class. Do whatever you feel comfortable doing. Just do something!

Other factors that affect gut motility

There are other things that have been recorded as factors that can affect gut motility, although the reasons why aren’t always as clear:

–Excessive calcium supplementation

–Some painkillers

–Iron supplements in the ferrous sulphate form

–Stress

Nutritional action plan for constipation

–Eat more fibre – soluble and insoluble: Fibre is definitely the key but, before you go munching down kilos of bran, there are two types, and increasing both can make things much more comfortable. These are soluble and insoluble fibres. Soluble fibre will actually form a soft gel-like texture in the digestive tract. This really helps to soften everything. If the stool has become very compact and hard, you are really going to want to soften things up and make life easy for yourself. Insoluble fibre lives up to its name. It is fibre that doesn’t really break down much at all. It will absorb water, but remains pretty much unchanged. This is what used to be referred to as roughage.

–Increase water intake: This one is straightforward enough. As I have mentioned before, rather than just aiming for some random number of units of water to drink, just drink until your urine runs clear, then stop. When colour returns to it, drink a little more… and on it goes.

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