How to prevent constipation? 6 expert-recommended tips
Digestion is a complex process that can easily disrupt your everyday life. You eat one thing wrong and your whole digestive system turns upside down. One problem that affects millions of people on a daily basis is constipation. From not drinking enough water to moving to a new place, anything can make you constipated. Whatever the reason may be, constipation can be taken care of at home if you follow a healthy lifestyle. If you want to get your stool schedule back on track, this is the article for you.
Health Shots got in touch with Dr Vineet Gupta, Senior Consultant- Gastroenterology at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, Delhi to know some natural ways to cure constipation. But first, let’s understand how constipation affects you.
What is constipation?
Dr Gupta explained constipation as a condition in which “you have fewer than three bowel movements in a week or stools that are hard, small, dry and painful to pass. Some people are able to pass the stool once a day or even twice while others go just a few times a week.”
It could also be an indicator of various other diseases, including psychiatric illnesses. You should consult a doctor if your stool frequency is less than three per week or if stool consistency is hard. While the treatment depends on the root cause of the problem, you should get it checked immediately, especially if you experience it regularly. You must see a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Lesser bowel movement
- Stomach pain
- Blood in your stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Inability to have a bowel movement even after trying home remedies
How to prevent constipation?
Since your diet plays a vital role in digestion, it will also help overcome the problem. Dr Gupta suggests the following ways that can help prevent constipation by making some lifestyle changes.
1. Drink more water
Dehydration is believed to be one of the biggest causes of constipation. Your stomach sends food to the large intestine, also known as the colon. The large intestine absorbs water from your dietary waste if your body doesn’t already have enough of it. This leads to hard stools to pass. In conclusion, you should consume at least 3 litres of water every day to keep constipation at bay!
2. Consume more fibre-rich food
Eating a diet rich in fibre can help improve bowel movements. Studies have shown that dietary fibre can help increase weight and softens it, decreasing the chance of constipation. Good sources of fibre include pears, avocado, apples, carrots, beetroot, broccoli, artichoke, Brussels sprouts, green leafy vegetables, lentils, beans and chickpeas.
3. Limit high-fat intake
Consuming fried foods, red meat, and other high-fat foods, such as bacon, sausage, whole milk, baked goods, pastries, etc., may cause constipation by slowing down digestion. If you experience persistent symptoms of constipation while consuming a high-fat diet, your doctor may advise you to cut down on your fat intake. However, not all fats are unhealthy.
4. Drink coffee
Drinking coffee every day can help you poop! Studies have found that caffeine can stimulate digestive muscles, improving bowel movement. However, do not consume too much coffee as excessive caffeine can cause dehydration, and worsen the condition.
5. Exercise regularly
Lack of physical activity can lead to constipation. People who exercise regularly hardly experience constipation. Typically, the colon reacts to action, and regular exercise can help develop muscles in the digestive system and improve your bowel movement. Yoga is one way that can help you deal with the pain and discomfort of such digestive troubles.
6. Avoid dairy products
Including dairy products in your diet is another cause of constipation. This mainly happens when you become sensitive to the components found in cow’s milk, such as lactose. Too much cheese and milk can lead to the problem, so try to cut back on these products if you have constipation.
Word from the expert!
Do visit your doctor if your bowel movement does not improve or you still feel uneasy. Holding the urge to control your bowel movement can make the condition worse and put you at risk of developing problems such as fissures (tears in the skin around the anus), and haemorrhoids, and you may bleed. It is difficult to set a time for bowel movements but the sooner you teach your body to do it, the better it is for your digestive system. Also, it is a slow process so don’t be hasty while trying to cure constipation. However, if your constipation treatment does not work, it could mean that your constipation is caused by something other than physical or physiological.