Though getting constipated is a subject people would rather not discuss, it’s a very common condition affecting about a quarter of the population in the USA alone. The symptoms could cause one discomfort and pain and often, the person would rather deal with the problem privately through medications or from the advice of the family doctor.
Dealing with constipation could either be proactive or reactive. When the person takes the necessary medications to relieve himself when it happens, that is being reactive. But the better way of dealing with the condition is proactive. Simply stated, if one is aware of the causes of constipation, he should take the necessary precautions to prevent its occurrence. Now that is being proactive. This way, he won’t have to contend with constipation and the agony that goes with it.
Constipation can be attributed to several factors. It could be caused by the lifestyle, a disruption in exercise routines, a change in the daily activities and more. However, the biggest culprit here is in the type of foods eaten. The magic word that could change the entire scenario of constipation is “fiber.” This is a dietary substance that could bring relief to the said condition.
There are two types of fiber. Soluble fibers attract water, and this allows the body to process the fiber without the feeling of discomfort. Insoluble fibers, on the other hand, bulks up the stool which will facilitate its passing out of the system. There should always be a balanced intake of these fibers in the diet.
Check out juices for constipation here.
Why Should People Care About Their Pooping Habits?
Some people consider pooping as a disgusting and foul-smelling habit, but they should think again. This is an important routine in life as it’s one way for the body to get rid of body waste. So, embrace the thought of pooping, it’s good, and it’s healthy.
Normally, the event should be carried out daily. When the timing becomes irregular, there should be some cause for concern. Not pooping at all, pooping more than the usual limit, and doing the deed just after every meal isn’t good signs. There must be something interfering with your digestive process.
For constipation cases, poop usually accumulates and cakes up in the intestine walls and will back upward on the digestive tract. This is caused by the inability to pass out the waste matter out of the body. There are two usual suspects why this happens: the lack of dietary fibers in the foods eaten and the lack of water intake.
Let’s talk about the foods we eat and our digestive tract. Not all our food intake is digested, and the unused parts become our poop. What one eats passes through the entire digestive system. These include the stomach, small intestines, and finally the large intestines. As the food passes through these organs, they are broken down into usable and unusable parts. The usable parts are absorbed into the bloodstream while unusable ones are removed. That is how the system functions.
At the end of our digestive tract, we will find that opening where we let the waste material pass. At times, for different reasons, there is a distraction that causes the poop not to exit the system as scheduled. Some people have difficulties pooping elsewhere, but home and they hold the urge off. Others are under stress at work or in school. There are those who do not exercise or move enough. Depression and medications could contribute. Even the consumption of too much dairy and processed foods can be disruptive. Then there is the fiber and water factor. All these could give your poop the reasons why they refuse to “leave.”
As mentioned earlier, the prime culprits to constipation are water and fiber. There should be more of these in our diet regimens. For fiber, the best natural sources are plant-based. Increase therefore the intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and grains. All these will give the proper balance of nutrients and fiber which will help the digestive system in the processing of food. Drink water, more of it. A gallon of this valuable liquid is recommended for each day.
Also, lessen or remove dairy products from one’s diet. Processed foods usually don’t contain fiber anymore as these were taken off during processing. Cross these out from the daily checklist. Also, avoid meats that have been flooded with antibiotics, hormones, additives, and preservatives. Such substances are unfamiliar to the body, so they may disrupt the process of digestion. If one cannot avoid the temptation of the taste of meat, he might as well go organic. Feed on animals that were grass-fed. To keep things moving, try the following foods:
Almonds are super foods as they can provide the body with many nutrients. The nut is a great source of protein and healthy fats which are good for the heart. They are rich in soluble fiber. But what makes the almond real special is its high magnesium content. This last element can neutralize stomach acids and can aid in moving the stool through the intestine.
This small but strong nut is a perfect snack for people on the go. Or it can be used as almond flour to make goodies and even smoothies.
Beans and Legumes
These are also super foods which are rich sources of protein and fiber, both soluble and insoluble. The soluble type of fiber helps soften the stool making it easy to pass out. The insoluble type gives bulk to the stool. Both types help in easing or preventing constipation.
Beans need not be taken as they are. On their own, they taste bland. But added to soups, casseroles or salads, they can add flavor to many dishes. They can also be made into delicious bean dips and in the case of legumes, hummus. Beans and legumes could be a cheap source of the daily dose of fiber.
Berries are nature’s natural snacks and candy. They are sweet, tasty, and contain mighty amounts of fiber. Make it a point to have a supply of berries in the fridge. They go great with cereals or oatmeal in the morning or with yogurt or just take them au naturel. When one feels that constipation is about to strike, snack on berries. That will solve the problem.
Raspberries top all the berries in fiber content. They contain twice as much fiber as found in strawberries. The insoluble fiber in these berries will give your stool bulk, making it easy to move it smoothly in the digestive tract. As it moves, the stool feeds the good bacteria in your intestine thus maximizing digestion.
Bran and germ contain most, if not all, the fibers found in grain. Unfortunately, these are removed when the grain is processed into flour. Thus, we have the term “whole grains” where the bran and the germ are included. To take advantage of fibers in grains, make some switches: instead of white rice, try brown rice or barley. Oatmeal is whole grain and is good for breakfast or in baked goods. Avoid white bread and crackers and switch to whole-grain equivalents. To be sure you are buying the right choices, just look at the product labels and check the ingredients.
We should follow many Japanese customs. After all, they may be the healthiest race in the world. To them, rice is not only a staple but an essential part of their meals. A study made by the Japanese have shown that people with the highest intake of rice had lower odds of suffering from constipation. The experiment did not exactly say why but they believe rice fiber has an important role in the results. And if it is really the rice fiber, raise the bar higher by going for brown rice.
This is one of the healthiest whole grain foods around. Its high soluble-fiber content helps with digestive issues and support the health of the heart. It isn’t just ordinary food; it is extraordinary. Although oatmeal, as it is, may be boring, one can always spice it up to make it taste great. For breakfast, have a bowl of oatmeal with some berries and a sprinkle of nuts. Doing this makes the healthy food a lot healthier.
Unlike other grains, oatmeal contains both soluble and insoluble fibers. The effects of both fibers make it easier for the stool to be moved inside the digestive tract until finally passing out of the system.
When possible, take the oranges fresh. Standard oranges contain a lot of fiber while the juice form may contain much less or none. Even more encouraging is a study where a substance in citrus fruits called naringenin can have laxative effects.
Starting today, skip the OJ and have the oranges au naturel. The fruit is truly a powerhouse and can affect a person positively in three ways. Oranges are rich in Vitamin C which aids in stool-softening, its fiber contents increase the bulk in your stool, and it has naringenin, a flavonoid that has been shown to work as a laxative. Again, forget the OJ and instead, pack an orange as a portable snack. Also, one can add some orange segments to salads.
A lot of people use prunes as a natural laxative – and they’re right to do so. Prunes contain a lot of fiber, and they also contain sorbitol. This is a type of sugar alcohol which doesn’t get digested by the body well. So, it helps ease constipation by attracting water into the intestines which spur bowel movement.
A lot of studies have proven the effectiveness of prunes in alleviating constipation. They can help soften the stool, improve its consistency and make the passing of stool more frequent. Prunes can add an element of sweetness when used in pilafs or salads. And if a person drinks a glass of pure prune juice, it will relieve constipation quickly and conveniently.
People who don’t like vegetables or fruits are more likely to develop constipation. This has been tested and proven. This should come as no surprise since plant-based foods contain the much-needed fiber to make people all feel well, especially in the morning. Broccoli, for instance, can contain huge amounts of insoluble fibers per cup. You can just hear your Mom say, “eat your vegetables, they are good for you,” after all these years.
Then we have spinach. This nutritious veggie not only contains fiber but, as important, it’s also rich in magnesium. This helps the colon to contract, and it also draws in water from the intestines to flush things out. Read the labels on common laxatives to find out that magnesium is usually an ingredient. So, it isn’t a bad idea to increase magnesium-rich foods in your regimen.
Aside from spinach, Swiss chards and kale are also packed with nutrients that can prevent constipation, and that includes fiber, potassium, and magnesium. Potassium is responsible for regulating fluid balance and muscle contractions in the body. Time to add these veggies in the soups, sandwiches, and salads.
Almost all green vegetables have relatively high fiber contents, from Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and even carrots. By the way, if possible and appropriate, eat the veggies with the skin on. Many nutrients are lost when the skin is removed. A baked potato with skin on has 50% more fiber than those without. Ditto with fruits, of course, when appropriate.
Many dairy products can cause constipation, and that includes ice cream, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on which side you’re on). But there’s always an exception to the rule and yogurt is one of them. This dairy product contains a hoard of lactobacillus bacteria which are important in the digestive processes.
The bacterial culture or probiotics in yogurt can replenish those good bacteria in the digestive system, and this will significantly contribute to the health of the whole GI system. Studies have shown that the intake of probiotics through yogurt can increase bowel movement and can improve its consistency to make one more comfortable when passing it out.
Also, Drink a Lot of Water!
To help things move on and out, one needs always to be hydrated. The reason should be obvious. Less water intake can lead to constipation. Water will soften the stool and cause it to move smoothly in the digestive tract. Drink plenty, just water please and not soft drinks. To make it more flavorful add some slices of lemon and cucumbers.
Some suggest that the body needs about a gallon and a half of water every day. That’s fair as the uses of water in the body are plenty. Fiber absorbs water in the gut, and there is the need for replenishment. If water is unavailable, drink beverages throughout the day. Otherwise, the person will end up with dry stools. Water is the best option, but beverages like coffee and tea can help avoid constipation.
Water for hydration can also be derived from certain foods. Cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchinis, sweet peppers and most types of fruits contain water. Include them in the diet to meet the fluid requirements. The extra benefit in this is that they contain fiber and nutrients which can contribute to the healthy movement of bowels.