WHAT IS A CHRONIC CONSTIPATION?
Chronic constipation can be defined as a reduction in the frequency or difficulty in passing stools, persisting for several weeks or even for longer.
In simple words, constipation is a condition where a person experiences infrequent or uncomfortable bowel movements. A person who is having bowel movements less than 3 times a week with the passage of hard, dry and small quantity of stools is generally said to be suffering from constipation. Still, it can vary from person to person.
Occasional episodes of constipation are common, but chronic constipation can make life difficult as it interferes with our ability to perform daily activities
Individual who is suffering from constipation may experience the following symptoms:
- Difficult and painful bowel movements
- Bowel movements fewer than three times a week
- Feeling bloated or uncomfortable
- Abdominal pain
However, normal stool elimination may consist of having a bowel movement three times a day or three times a week; it depends on the person.
WHAT CAUSES CONSTIPATION:
Chronic constipation is, most of the time, a result of following the wrong diet and lifestyle, such as:
- Excess consumption of junk food/fried food or processed food in the diet. E.g. Pizza, Burger, Noodles, Vada, Samosa, etc.
- Excess intake of food made of Maida (Bleached/All purpose flour), e.g. Cakes, Cookies, Biscuits, Bread.
- Drinking an insufficient amount of water.
- Excessive consumption of dairy products
- Excess consumption of food rich in refined sugar, e.g. Sweets, artificial juices, Candies and confectionaries, etc.
- Eating significantly less quantity of fibre (fruits and vegetables).
- Excess and frequent consumption of Non-Vegetarian food (Chicken, fish, etc.).
- Eating food in a hurry and rapidly.
- Not chewing food properly for sufficient time.
- Eating food while watching television or a smartphone.
- Chronic stress
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Irregular eating time.
- Resisting the urge to pass the motion.
- Excess intake of caffeine (coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc.)
- Lack of sufficient sleep.
- Not enough physical activity.
HOW TO PREVENT OR OVERCOME CHRONIC CONSTIPATION?
Most of the time, Chronic constipation is an acquired health problem due to faulty diet and lifestyle-related practices. Changing and improving our diet and lifestyle can definitely help in overcoming or preventing chronic constipation. Let’s see how to do it:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables in the diet:
Fruits and vegetables provide a sufficient amount of fibre, which adds bulk to the stools, soften them and stimulates the bowel movements.
- Drink sufficient water daily (Approx. 8 glasses of water/day):
Drinking sufficient water keeps our stools soft, which makes it easy to pass.
- Start the day with a glass of water.
- Eat more of complex carbohydrate (E.g. Whole wheat, Jowar, Unpolished rice, etc.):
Complex carbohydrates like whole wheat, unpolished rice contains insoluble fibres which add bulk to the stools and speeds up the bowel movements
- Reduce the quantity of Maida (Bleached flour) and its products in the diet.
Maida (Bleached flour) being a refined flour has no fibre content; thus, it slows down to bowel movement. After consumption, its microparticles stick to the intestinal wall and interfere with the normal digestive process. It may lead to increased risk of constipation.
- Reduce the quantity of refined sugar in the diet, especially fructose and sucrose (e.g. Sweets, Artificial juices, sweets, Candies, Jams, Cold drinks)
Artificial sugary drinks and juices lack sufficient amount of fibre; thus it increases the risk of suffering from constipation
- Reduce the intake of Caffeine (Coffee. Tea, Energy drinks, etc.)
Excess consumption of caffeine increases the frequency of urination. When it is not combined with sufficient water intake can lead to chronic dehydration. Lack of adequate water makes stools hard and difficult to pass, leading to constipation.
- Avoid excess consumption of process food/Junk food (High fat and high sugar).
- Do sufficient physical activity
- Avoid lying down immediately after a meal, instead make a habit of taking a stroll for 5-10 mins.
- Take a regular walk and do exercise.
Walking and aerobic exercise increases the blood circulation in our body. It also increases the blood flow in the gastrointestinal region, which aids in digestion as well as healthy bowel movements. It helps in easy passage of motion through the intestines, which aids in preventing constipation.
- Avoid sitting for too long at one place
Sitting for too long in one place makes the movements of bowel sluggish. This slows down the passage of stools through the intestines, which can increase the risk of constipation.
- Do not ‘hold’ the urge to pass the motion.
- Take sufficient sleep.
- Chew your food properly before swallowing.
When the food is adequately chewed for sufficient times, it gets thoroughly mixed with saliva, which contains digestive enzymes. It helps in improving digestion, absorption and reduces the risk of constipation.
- Try to eat at a regular time and at regular interval.
There can be some underlying diseases and health conditions responsible for chronic constipation, which may require consultation and treatment from a medical expert.