Constipation is an unpleasant condition where bowel movements become less frequent and it is hard to pass motion. The common causes of constipation is an insufficient amount of fibre in our daily food intake, drinking insufficient amounts of water and lack of exercise. A change in routine might contribute to the condition as well. It can happen to people in any age group.
Sometime the situation might become quite serious, where patients suffer from severe pain, complain of blood in stools, or constipation that lasts for weeks. When this happens, please visit your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Chronic constipation might lead to complications including haemorrhoids, faecal impaction and rectal prolapse.
Taking laxatives for the short term, if it helps you get back to normal, is all right. However, you should seek professional medical treatment if the situation does not improve over a long time.
Constipation is usually successfully treated with a combination of consuming a high-fibre diet, increasing the intake of fluids and daily exercise.
Eating a Diet High in Fibre
A diet that is high in fibre with help to normalise bowel movements. This is because dietary fibre can help to increase the size and weight of your stools and also soften it. It is easier to pass large stools, which will reduce the likelihood of constipation.
Dietary fibre is found in the indigestible parts of cereals, fruits and vegetables.
Health conditions linked to a low fibre diet include – constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis, heart disease and some cancers (including bowel).
According to a 2014 study on diets for constipation, the condition cannot be managed using medication alone, and better short- and long-term outcomes are achieved with lifestyle changes, including a proper diet. Diets that have ample fruits, fluids, and probiotics are good for constipation, and the study discussed the positive effects of green kiwifruits, prunes, milk and dairy products to ease this condition.
Drinking More Fluids
Drinking liquids is necessary for the body to function at its optimal condition. According to a 2003 study, mild dehydration is a risk factor of constipation.
Thus, staying hydrated is a great natural way for easing constipation. Drinking enough water will ensure that there is extra water in the stool, which will make it softer and easier to pass.
Besides drinking water, we can drink other fluids without added sugar for hydration, such as fruit and vegetable juices and herbal teas.
A suitable herbal infusion to drink is lemongrass tea. According to a 2014 study, lemongrass has diuretic properties. In the folk medicine of various cultures, lemongrass is prescribed to help ease digestive complaints, because it has natural diuretic qualities. Thus, it can help to ease ailments associated with the digestive system, such as constipation, nausea and bloating.
Rhymba Hills® Lemongrass Blend (please click here) and Rhymba Hills® Reelax Tea (please click here) are some of the suitable herbal infusions you can drink to ease constipation. Rhymba Hills® Lemongrass Blend contains lemongrass, pandan and kaffir lime leaves, while Rhymba Hills® Reelax Tea consists of lemongrass and pandan.
Frequent exercise helps to alleviate constipation by reducing the time food takes to move through the large intestine. This lessens the amount of water absorbed from the stools by your body. This reduces the chance to have hard, dry stools.
A 2014 study of adolescents in Hong Kong found that constipation was associated with insufficient physical activity and excessive sedentary behaviours among Chinese adolescents. The same study suggested prevention of constipation by promotion of physical activity.
You don’t need to engage in difficult or taxing exercise regimes to fix your constipation problem. The idea is to have frequent movement. Therefore, a 30-min brisk walk every day would be sufficient exercise for most people, and this can be performed by people of all ages. If you cannot walk for 30 minutes at a stretch, you can try to have mini walks throughout your day. A 10- to 15-min walk several times a day is just as effective.
Besides exercise, yoga and light stretching can also do wonders. Light yoga movements which move the mid section or press on the abdomen are helpful too, in addition to squats and lunges. Perhaps it is time to sign up for a class or two.
Constipation is an uncomfortable but treatable condition. Do not suffer in silence if you have a chronic constipation condition. Do visit a medical professional today to help you recover. In addition, make sure you drink enough fluids, eat a lot of fibre and exercise regularly to keep the condition away.
Arnaud MJ. Mild dehydration: a risk factor of constipation? European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003 Dec; 57 Suppl 2:S88-95. [online] <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14681719/>.
Bae SH. Diets for constipation. Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition. 2014;17(4):203-208. [online] <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4291444/>.
Huang R, Ho SY, Lo WS, Lam TH. Physical activity and constipation in Hong Kong adolescents. PLoS One. 2014; 9(2):e90193. [online] <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3938666/>.
Olorunnisola, S. K., Asiyanbi, H.T., Hammed, A. M. and Simsek, S.
Biological properties of lemongrass: An overview. International Food Research Journal 21(2): 455-462 (2014). [online] <http://www.ifrj.upm.edu.my/21%20(02)%202014/4%20IFRJ%2021%20(02)%202014%20043.pdf>.