Constipation – A Modern Lifestyle Disease

A large number of population suffer from a lifestyle disorder called constipation. Constipation is the type of modern disease of lifestyle, which is caused by irregular and unhealthy dietary pattern.

Lack of physical activity, inadequate dietary fibre and too little liquid or water intake are few major causes of constipation.

To prevent constipation, it’s important to first know what causes it. As the food passes into the lower GI tract, where colon, rectum and anus work, the colon draws the water from the undigested food that reaches it and whatever is left forms stools. The GI muscles move the stool through the colon to the rectum, where it get stored until you are ready to pass it through anus. When this movement slows down, your colon draws too much water and therefore, stools get dry and hard to pass, causing constipation.

The problem mainly arises due to sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy dietary habit, further happens because of a low-fibre, high fat diet and not drinking enough water and other liquids.

It is advisable that before taking laxatives, look at your diet and your fibre intake. Diet including fruits, fluids and probiotics are good to improve constipation. The better the person eats, the better their bowel movement.

Fibre is the part of foods that the body can’t breakdown, and this type of food with lot of fibre helps in keeping stool soft, speeds digestion and eases their passage through the digestive system.

All plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, have fibre. The recommended dietary fibre for men is 38 gm/day and 25gm/day for women. After 50years of age the fibre requirement decreases to 21gm for women and 30gm for men.

Points to keep in mind – if you have difficulty in passing stool:-

  • Drink plenty of water and other liquids such as chaach, hot water with lemon drops, fresh soups, etc., at least 4-5 liters/ day.
  • Avoid taking deep fried foods and anything made up of refined flour (maida) and also fast food, it can make you feel more bloated and uneasy.
  • Take more of probiotics such as curd/ yogurt and other probiotic drinks available in market.
  • Avoid taking foods/ drinks that make it worse such as caffeine, alcohol, refined flour, cabbage, cauliflower, brinjal and carbonated drinks.
  • High- fibre foods such as whole grains and whole wheat or multi grain breads, wheat bran, fresh fruits and vegetables with skin should form a part of the daily diet.
  • whole grains, such as whole wheat bread and pasta, bran cereal and oatmeal.
  • legumes, such as lentils, kidney beans, soybeans, and chickpeas. Though beans are gas forming but taken in right amount can provide you with good amounts of fibre.
  • nuts, such as almonds, flaxseeds, peanuts, and walnuts.
  • fruits, such as berries, apples with the skin on, oranges, kiwis, pears, plums, papaya.
  • Green vegetables, such as carrots, green peas, sweet potato, light vegetables.
  • Gradually increase your fibre intake, the goal should be between 25-35 gm /day. Increasing too much of fibre in one go can make you feel bloated.
  • Take dried fruits in moderation and can also include plums or prunes and even prune juice.
  • Also, you can make a powder of nuts and seeds and can take it at night with a glass of lukewarm water before going to bed.
  • Try some physical activity also and do not lie down immediately after having major meals. Keep a gap of about 1-2 hours between your meal and bed timings.

So, a regular meal pattern, increased fluid intake and physical activity can help improve constipation very effectively.

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