Constipation Conundrum

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The New Year always brings a bout of bowel problems due to the stress of Christmas shopping, parties and excessive eating.

Constipation is a common disturbance of the digestive tract. It refers to the inability to pass stools and could involve straining to empty the bowels or the presence of excessively hard stools, causing discomfort and possibly pain. The bowels do not move regularly or are not completely emptied when they move. This condition is the chief cause of many diseases as it produces toxins which find their way into the bloodstream and are carried to all parts of the body.

Appendicitis, rheumatism, arthritis, high blood pressure, cataract and cancer are only a few of the diseases in which chronic constipation is an important predisposing factor. Constipation is one of the most common of all digestive disorders and it can affect people of all age groups, from toddlers to the aged.

Bear in mind that our digestive systems function differently and while some people may consider the absence of bowel movements on a single day as constipation, for some regular bowel movements may occur daily. Disruptions or aberrations from your normal routine that cause discomfort should be a cause for attention, however.

The severity of constipation may vary greatly, but in most cases, it is just a temporary phenomenon that will resolve naturally or with some intervention. Recurring bouts of constipation or chronic constipation can, however, be problematic and be indicative of other problems or a faulty diet. Chronic constipation in children, babies, toddlers and the elderly is not uncommon, and while it should not be neglected this is not a threatening condition if it responds to mild constipation treatments. The symptoms, causes, and treatment for chronic constipation in children would be different from the treatment given to an adult.

Chronic constipation if neglected or simply addressed with short term measures can, however, cause the development of other complications over a long period of time. Constipation treatment in such a scenario should not simply be directed towards constipation relief but should be aimed at identifying and rectifying the underlying cause. Long term chronic constipation when neglected can lead to conditions like faecal impaction, piles or haemorrhoids, anal fissures and faecal incontinence.

The occasional bout of constipation should not be cause for worry, but acute constipation should again not be neglected as it could be caused by a serious underlying medical condition.

Constipation treatment is usually very effective and the main causes being dietary and lifestyle factors, simply making the required changes to these areas of your life can help prevent or even cure constipation. Constipation in children may be treated with suppositories, and although constipation relief for babies and children may be achieved with natural remedies or home treatments, they should only be applied upon consultation with your doctor. For mild constipation relief during pregnancy, it would be best to avoid using tablets and instead try home treatments like specific foods or even suppositories.

Remedies

Fruit and vegetables are an ideal source of constipation relievers

Pear

Pears are beneficial in the treatment of constipation. Patients suffering from chronic constipation should adopt an exclusive diet of this fruit or its juice for a few days, but in ordinary cases, a medium-sized pear taken after dinner or with breakfast will have the desired effect.

Guava

Guava is another effective remedy for constipation. When eaten with seeds, it provides roughage to the diet and helps in the normal evacuation of the bowels. One or two guavas should be taken everyday.

Grapes

The combination of the properties of the cellulose, sugar and organic acid in grapes make them a laxative food. Their field of action is not limited to clearing the bowels only. They also tone up the stomach and intestines and relieve the most chronic constipation. Take at least 350gm of this fruit daily to achieve the desired results. When fresh grapes are not available, raisins soaked in water can be used. They should be eaten early in the morning, along with the water in which they have been soaked.

Orange

Consuming one or two oranges at bedtime and again on rising in the morning is an excellent way of stimulating the bowels. The general stimulating influence of orange juice excites peristaltic activity and helps prevent the accumulation of food residue in the colon.

Papaya and Figs

Other fruits specific for constipation are papaya and figs. Half a medium-sized papaya should be eaten at breakfast for it to act as a laxative. Both fresh and dry figs have a laxative effect. Four or five dry figs should be soaked overnight in a little water and eaten in the morning.

Spinach

Among the vegetables, spinach has been considered to be the most vital food for the entire digestive tract from time immemorial. Raw spinach contains the finest organic material for the cleansing, reconstruction, and regeneration of the intestinal tract. Raw spinach juice-100 ml, mixed with an equal quantity of water and taken twice daily, will cure the most aggravated cases of constipation within a few days.

Other Remedies

Half a lime, squeezed is a glass of hot water, with half a teaspoon of salt is also an effective remedy for constipation. Drinking water which has been kept overnight in a copper vessel, first thing in the morning, brings good results. Linseed (alse) is extremely useful in difficult cases of constipation. A teaspoon of linseed swallowed with water before each meal provides both roughage and lubrication.

Physical activity is known to help reduce the risk of constipation and yoga is particularly noteworthy as a physical fitness regime in this regard. Yoga comprises of a variety of postures and movements, many of which stimulate and encourage the bowel functions. Practising yoga can thereby enhance your digestive systems functioning and eliminate or at least reduce the occurrence of digestive disorders like constipation.

Your Lifestyle Plays a Part

Natural and Simple Diet Consisting of Unrefined Foods

The most important factor in curing constipation is a natural and simple diet. This should consist of unrefined foods such as wholegrain cereals, bran, honey, lentils, green and leafy vegetables, fresh and dry fruits, and milk products in the form of butter, clarified butter, and cream. The diet alone is not enough.

While you are advised to include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and wholegrain cereals in your diet you should also be cautioned against the intake of certain foods. While it is not necessary to go on a restrictive diet it is important that you moderate your intake of low fibre and high-fat foods like red meats, cheese, and other processed or refined foods. Likewise, you need to keep yourself well hydrated with a good intake of water and fresh fruit juices while steering clear of unhealthy artificial drinks and juices or alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.

Chew Food Properly, Avoid Hurried Meals and Irregular meals

Food should be properly chewed. Hurried meals and meals at odd times should be avoided. Sugar and sugary foods should be strictly avoided. Foods which constipate are all products made of white flour, rice, bread, pulses, cakes, pastries, biscuits, cheese, fleshy foods, preserves, white sugar and hard-boiled eggs.

Exercise!

Toning up the muscles also helps in the treatment of constipation. Fresh air, outdoor games, walking, swimming, and exercise play an important role in strengthening the muscles and thereby preventing constipation. Yoga, dance and martial arts are fantastic constipation solvers.

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