How to prevent constipation

Padangekspres.net-Mim Beim shares some natural remedies for constipation.

(Q) I have suffered from constipation all my life. What can I do about it?

(A) Constipation is common, particularly among women. Straining, going to the toilet less than three times a week and dry, hard stools are all symptoms. Other signs include bad breath, fatigue, headaches, loss of appetite, coated tongue, bloated belly, flatulence and skin problems.

People often take laxatives for constipation. However, even "natural" laxatives such as cascara and senna can result in cramps and diarrhoea. The bowel can also become "lazy" and dependent on laxatives.

Stress is a common cause of constipation. Stress tightens many muscles, including the bowel wall. For some people,this causes diarrhoea, for others constipation. Tight intestinal muscles can cause the stool to resemble small pellets. Take magnesium daily to relax the muscles and try regular, rhythmic exercise such as swimming and jogging.

Chewing each mouthful of food well improves digestion and promotes regular bowel habits. The digestive tract is a long tube, extending from the mouth to the rectum and anus.

Chewing precipitates a downwards, wave-like movement called peristalsis.

This is why the urge to go to the toilet often happens after a meal.

Without sufficient fluid, the bowel's contents become dry and difficult to pass. Drink at least two litres of water a day. Start the day with a cup of hot water and lemon to wake up the liver and move the bowel.

Eat at least 30 grams of fibre a day. Fibre is not absorbed from the bowel, so soaks up fluid, increasing stool size. A larger stool exerts more pressure against the bowel wall, which initiates a bowel movement.

Choose fibre-rich foods such as wholemeal bread, brown rice, fruit (two to three serves a day), vegetables (five serves a day), nuts and seeds (a small handful a day). If you need extra fibre, supplement with psyllium husks, linseeds or slippery elm.

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