It has happened to many of us. Sometimes it is difficult for us to go to the bathroom, especially when we have stress or take some medications. Constipation is not a disease, but a symptom that can manifest itself for many reasons. And you should start to worry if we defecate less than three times a week.
It is estimated that between 12% and 20% of the population suffers from constipation. And one of its main causes is an inadequate diet or, it would be better to say, how to consume and cook food.
However, each organism is different and has its own rhythm or intestinal transit. Only you know your body and you know what number of weekly bowel movements are normal for you.
Therefore, only you will know how to determine if you are constipated.
What is constipation?take QUIZ
Constipation is a symptom characterized by a decrease in the number of bowel movements accompanied by great effort or excessive difficulty in passing stool.
The cause of constipation most often occurs when stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract or cannot be effectively removed from the rectum, which can cause it to become hard and dry.
It is considered that a person has constipation when he meets two or more of the following signs or signs, in more than 25% of the stools:
Depending on its duration it can be:
- Acute or transitory: it arises temporarily due to an external cause related to a change in diet, lifestyle, vacations, stress, lack of exercise, taking a medication, due to illness, among others. When this cause disappears, the normal rhythm resumes.
- Chronic: Occurs over long periods of time. A diagnosis must be established to rule out a disease at its origin and adopt healthy habits that restore the normal rhythm of defecation. An incorrect diet directly affects intestinal transit and can cause chronic constipation. In this case we have unbalanced diets, inadequate water consumption, ingesting little fiber, consuming some medications and supplements, among others.
According to the World Gastroenterology Organization, chronic constipation can have different causes, ranging from neuropathies, pelvic muscle dysfunction or mechanical intestinal obstruction to dietary, metabolic or pharmacological causes.
There may be one or several physiological causes of constipation:
Tips to prevent and combat it
To prevent constipation you have to change a series of habits. In most cases, it is enough to do what I indicate below:
1. A diet rich in fiber helps you go to the bathroom more regularly. If you suffer from constipation you should frequently eat legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts. The WHO indicates that the recommended daily fiber intake for adults is 25-30 g and in children older than one year, 5 g added to their age (a 3-year-old child would need 8 g of fiber daily).
2. Consume enough water and stay hydrated. It is advisable to drink a glass of water before going to bed to soften the stool and another when getting up to stimulate the intestine.
3. Exercise, the more intense the better. It will help you regulate digestion and intestinal mobility.
4. Never hold the urge to defecate; when you have to go to the bathroom, do it.
5. Establish a fixed time for daily bowel movements.
6. Make sure you take plenty of time for your bowel movement.
7. Drink coffee in the morning. This drink stimulates the muscles of the intestine, it also contains small amounts of fiber.
9. Consuming probiotics (beneficial live microorganisms such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium), can help an intestinal flora weakened by stress, antibiotics, poor diet, among others.
10. Defecate in proper position. The best is squatting, but since it is not easy to perform, put a small step on the feet to raise the knees and get a sharp angle for the expulsion of stool.
11. Consume glucomannan supplements (a type of soluble fiber that improves constipation and has probiotic effects), improves digestive health and the balance of bacteria in the intestine. Fit & Slim and Sleep Fit , both Evolution Advance supplements that help with weight loss, contain it.
12. Eat plums. In addition to containing fiber, they are rich in sorbitol, a polyalcohol that has a laxative effect.
13. Avoid dairy if you are intolerant to them, because they can cause constipation due to their effect on bowel movement.
14. If you are taking a medication that can cause constipation, your doctor may suggest that you stop taking it or switch to another.
Medications that produce it
Source: United States Department of Health and Human Services
These simple tips serve most people to avoid constipation, although there are people who, for multiple reasons, must resort to laxatives.
But be careful: its use and abuse for long periods of time can damage the nerves of the colon and the muscles of the digestive system. Do it under medical supervision and in the recommended doses.
If, after following these tips, constipation continues and, in addition, you have a swollen or distended abdomen, abdominal pain and cramps, vomiting, blood in the stool, or weight loss, consult your doctor.
Only he can rule out the existence of another care condition, through a consultation and detailed medical history, as well as a physical examination and complementary tests.