16–20 percent of the total North American population suffers from frequent or chronic constipation. One-half of all doctor’s visits to gastroenterology offices are related to “functional digestive disorders” that cause constipation. It’s estimated that the annual expenditure on over-the-counter laxatives in the USA is now $800 million.
What causes constipation?
- A diet low in fibre and vegetables, too high in proteins and carbs, especially in sugar & starch
- Sedentary (involving much sitting) lifestyle and decreased physical activity
- Insufficient water intake
- Taking supplements such as calcium and iron
- Overuse of drugs such as antacid medication, anti-depressants, laxatives, pain killers
- Consume of too much diary products, especially cheese
- Medical conditions linked to constipation are diabetes mellitus, spinal cord lesions, hypothyroidism, colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, MS, Parkinson’s, stress, pregnancy
Constipation symptoms & complications:
- irregular bowel movement, 3-5 times/week stool evacuation instead of 3 times daily
- difficulties in passing stool
- hard, insufficient, unsatisfactory stool
- accumulated gas in abdomen, bloating abdomen, pain in abdomen,
- headaches and nausea
- bleeding may occur while passing stool due to fissures/piles, or from passing hard stool
- pain and burning in rectum may occur and continue even after passing stool
- long standing constipation may lead to piles, anal fissures and rectal prolapse
- abdominal hernia (inguinal hernia/umbilical hernia) may arise from long standing constipation
- piles are swollen, dilated veins in rectal canal or anus
- anal fissure refers to a tear in the tissue lining of the anus
- rectal prolapse refers to protrusion of a part or the entire rectum from the anus
- abdominal hernia is the protrusion of an organ through the abdominal wall or cavity which normally contains it
Constipation prevention & therapy:
There are different ways to prevent and treat constipation, which is a symptom and not a disease:
Diet & nutrition: The most important cause of constipation is diet with low dietary fiber and heavy fat. Diet which is high in fiber overcomes the constipation. Chronic constipation can be prevented in adults or children by following simple rules of diet habits:
- Food should be properly chewed and each morsel for at least 12-15 times
- Wholesome diet, fruits, boiled vegetables and soup is a good remedy
- Vegetables like radish, turnip, peas, carrot, tomato, bitter gourd, beetroot, sprouts, coriander, cabbage are useful to relieve from constipation
- Eat fresh fruits like avocado, guava, mango, orange, jamun, papaya, grapes
- Increase the quantity of salads in your diet, recommended 7 coups of green vegetables/day
- Increase the intake of watermelon, mangoes, cucumber
- Drink more water, minimum 2 litter/day
- Milk products like butter, ghee and cream are emollient
- Dry fruits like fig, apricot and dates are laxative
Avoid Constipation causing foods:
- Restrict your non-vegetable, fried, oily and junk foods, all constipating
- Restrict bread, cakes, pasta, pizzas, burgers, cookies, responsible for constipation
- Restrict cheese, yoghurt
- Avoid spices, unhealthy fats, excessive salt
- Avoid completely white flour, grains, starchy food, sweets, biscuits, preserves, white sugar, Avoid hard boiled egg
Supplements to treat and prevent constipation:
Sprouted chia seeds and flaxseeds, psyllium husk, cod liver oil, fruits fiber found in prunes, pears, apple pectin, probiotics together with prebiotic (inulin), aloe vera juice, castor oil.
Magnesium oxide best for treating constipation. For severe constipation, you will need to take a high dose for the first 24-48 hours, somewhere around 3000-4000 mg’s (total amount for the day) in divided doses. This means if you have the 400 mg capsules, you would need to take 8-10 spaced evenly throughout the day. Then for your maintenance dose (so you never get constipated again) you take somewhere near 500-700 mg’s a day, preferably before bed
Milk of Magnesia is also an effective treatment for constipation, especially during pregnancy. This is a fast-acting magnesium in liquid form, the most recommended constipation cure by doctors. For dosages and advice simply follow the directions on the bottle
Magnesium citrate works extremely well against constipation. You can buy this in either a liquid or powdered form.
Relieve constipation using herbal laxatives such as: Senna seeds, Cascara Sagrada, Fenugreek, Psyllium.
Best to prevent, treat and cure additional constipation complications are homeopathic remedies; homeopathic remedies treat constipation real causes, fistulas, piles, hemorrhoids and do not create dependency like laxatives. Best homeopathic remedies are: Nux Vomica, Bryonia, Alumina, Chelidonium Majus, Lycopodium, Causticum, Silicea, Antimonium Crudum, Aesculus Hippocastanum.
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