What is Constipation?
Constipation is known as hard, dry stool that is typically difficult to pass and often associated with pain. Unfortunately, there is no exact definition. Some people refer to constipation as having less than one bowel movement daily and others define it as experiencing fewer than three bowel movements per week.
Although the definition may vary one aspect of constipation that does remain the same is the symptoms. In no way is constipation a comfortable experience. The associated symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Pain or bloating in the abdomen
- Fewer bowel movements
- Difficulty in starting or completing bowel movement
- Pain when passing stool
- Inability to pass gas
- Loss of appetite
Commonly, constipation lasts for only a short period of time and is not dangerous. Any constipation that is long term does pose a risk for both short and long term negative health effects. If your constipation lasts more than a few days the problem should be addressed immediately as it is not safe for toxins from old matter to recirculate in the body.
Who can experience constipation?
All ages and populations can experience constipation although some people are more susceptible than others. Some examples of these populations are as follows:
- Individual taking prescription medication
- Individuals who consume a highly processed diet
- Older Adults
What causes constipation?
The bowel is a very delicate organ, meaning numerous aspects of life can impact the way it operates. The onset of constipation occurs when the stool passes through the colon too slowly. Overtime, as the stool sits in the colon becoming hard and dry, the colon muscle becomes weakened and lazy as it becomes harder to pass naturally. This is the turning point where constipation becomes a chronic condition.
Life factors that may cause constipation to worsen include:
- Changes in daily routine (diet, sleep, exercise)
- Diets low in fibre (below 25g/day)
- Diets high in protein
- Lack of physical activity
- Habitual use of laxatives
- Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
- High stress
Medical factors that may cause constipation to worsen include:
- Taking iron supplements
- Spinal cord or brain injuries
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Functional GI disorders (GI tract functions abnormally without evidence of disease)
What health risks are associated?
- Anal Fissures: small tears in the anus
- Hemorrhoids: swollen and inflamed veins around your anus or lower rectum
- Impaction: hard, dry like stool tightly packs the large intestine and rectum
- Rectal Prolapse: when the rectum slips out of the anus
How can I treat my constipation?
- Make dietary changes
The key change to make here is to increase fibre intake. Fibre helps to form soft stool that is easy to pass. Be sure to increase your fibre intake slowly over a period of time. As your fibre intake increases slowly water should be added to your diet at the same rate. Fibre can be found in vegetables, fruits and many grains.
Here are just a few examples of excellent fibre sources:
Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, carrots, collard greens, lentils, squash
Fruits: apple, apricot, avocado, banana, mango, prunes
Grains: barley, bran, brown rice, oats
- Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of liquids is crucial because constipation is onset by dehydration. Examples of healthy liquids include, water, fresh juice and clear soups.
- Listen to your body
When you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, do not resist. Make sure you are releasing when this urge occurs otherwise a buildup can occur. A period of constant resistance and buildup of matter can eventually lead to impaction.
- Exercise regularly
Staying active is not only great for physical health, but it keeps your digestive system active and healthy as well. The intensity of exercise is not important what is, is the duration. Set a goal for your self to engage in 20-30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week. Walking after a meal is a great way to improve digestive function.
- Routine Colonic sessions
The process of colonics dates back to ancient times. Over the years the system has continued to develop and advance with technology, but the end goal has always remained the same. Colon hydrotherapy is a method used to cleanse the colon of old toxic fecal matter. By cleansing the colon entirely health is restored to all aspects of the body. The Angel of Water system is a state of the art system, which uses only a gentle flow of purified water to stimulate the colon for elimination. Continuously stimulating the colon helps to tone and strengthen the muscle to help increase the frequency of bowel movements and detoxify your body.
Posted by Meaghan Lafranca, M.Sc, Nutritionist, Colon Therapist