Sunday, 22 July 2012

What To Do When Your Constipated

Constipation is becoming the curse of modern society. More people than ever dread going to the toilet because all it involves is a lot of pushing and straining with very little to show for it.

However, for such a common digestive problem, constipation is rarely discussed. This can often be societies own hang ups about discussing our stools and bowels movements.

Diets Have Become More Unhealthy

So why is this happening? There can be several reasons but the most common is to do with the type of food we’re eating. The western diet has changed considerably over the last 30 years. In that time the food we eat has become more processed and refined.

Processed foods contain high levels of fat, salt, refined flour, sugar, chemical additives and flavour enhancers. This may make our foods more convenient and attractive to eat, but it’s putting our health at risk.

The fact is, manufactured foods are low in nutrition and fiber. These two components are important for a healthy digestive system. For example, fiber is very important for stimulating your bowel movements.

However, fiber has all but disappeared from the modern diet. The modern processed diet is having the adverse effect of clogging up our system.

In contrast, the native people of the central Africa plains rarely suffer the digestive problems that are so common in the West.

Conditions such as irritable bowel system, colitis, Crohns disease and constipation are unheard of. Due to their high fiber diet African native people have regular bowel movements and soft stools.

It’s estimated that the average bowel movement for people living in the United States and the UK is once every 4 days.  This would be considered a chronic condition.

The truth is, with a normal healthy digestive system you should be having a bowel movement at least once every day.

What Can You Do To Change

The first step is to look at your diet. Are you eating enough fiber?
There are two types of fiber that you should be aware of - insoluble and soluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber is absorbed by water in the colon turning it into a viscous substance. This acts like a lubricant enabling the stool to move through the intestinal canal at a faster and easier rate.

Soluble fiber also helps to keep moisture inside the stool. A major cause of constipation is hard and dry stools that are painful and very slow to pass.

In addition, soluble fiber is also known to reduce cholesterol and help to regulate high blood pressure levels.

Insoluble fiber is a different story. This type of fiber remains intact as it goes through your digestive system.

As it reaches the colon it absorbs water and this increases its bulk. The increased size of the stool stimulates the nerves along the surface of colon that push the stool along. Also, insoluble fiber, like a brush cleans your colon of bacteria, toxins and dead cells.

The best sources of soluble and insoluble fiber are fresh fruit and raw vegetables. Wholegrain bread and breakfast cereal can also provide you with a good source of fiber.

Unfortunately, many of the modern breakfast cereals are so full of sugar it would be healthier to eat the cardboard packaging they came in. Therefore, always check the label before you buy.

Let’s face it, a bowl full of bran is not the most appetising food to face in the morning, however you can jazz it up with bananas and strawberries.

Try to avoid over the counter laxatives and stool softeners if you can as they can cause side effects. These are only a short term fix, they don’t address the cause and they can make your constipation worse if you become dependent on them.

The best laxatives for constipation are whole natural foods containing both insoluble and soluble fiber. 

However, it’s important to emphasize that you should drink more water when increasing you intake of fiber, as dehydration is another primary cause of constipation. 

Another alternative would be to take acidophilus supplements as they can help to improve your digestive health by introducing more healthy bacteria into your gut.

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