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Flush away the CONS in life!
Sophie Kalinauckas , Health & Beauty writer
Constipation is when your body does not give a crap! And with busy lifestyles, families, jobs, goals and trying to have a good time, we really don't have time to feel weighed down (literally!), in pain and feeling uncomfortable. A lot of us think of constipation as a silly joke, often it is the butt of many jokes (excuse the pun) but in actual fact it can affect your daily routine; causing severe pain and abdominal cramps for some individuals and be an embarrassing issue you don’t wish to reveal to others and so avoid seeking help.
What constitutes constipation?
Constipation is a digestive ailment which occurs when the body suffers difficulty trying to digest food normally. Fundamentally, stools move very slowly though the colon which causes a variety of unwanted symptoms. It is a frustration we all experience at some point in our lives and most of the time it is just temporary. Medically, it is described as fewer than 3 stools excreted a week and in more extreme cases it is known as severe constipation which is diagnosed as 1 stool a week.
General symptoms include abdominal discomfort, straining, hard or small stools, bloated stomach, bloody stools, feeling stressed and infrequent bowel movements. The painful truth is that there is not one magic pill to fix constipation (even if laxatives can try!); constipation can mean something different to each individual. This means that you should tackle constipation specifically to you and the hope that is found here is that you can take charge at reviewing your own lifestyle.
Fix it with fibre
There is not one fixed cause of constipation and it can often be difficult to pin point the fundamental source to your soreness. The most common culprits of constipation are a lack of water consumption, inadequate fibre, not going, when you need to go and an extreme lack of exercise! There are some less known causes which should be considered especially if you are a regular sufferer. These include: regular use of painkillers, an underactive thyroid gland, chocolate, vitamins or added supplements, overuse of laxatives, excessive dairy in your diet, depression, high blood pressure and allergies. These causes are not to worry over but are worth reviewing in your lifestyle to search for the source. A trip to the doctor is always a good idea if you are battling the bowel blues continually.
Wonder in the healing nature of water.
A lack of water, as we all know causes dehydration and this fundamentally effects how our body functions. If we break it down, a mixture of food and liquid moves through the intestines and all nutrients are absorbed. The large intestine's functions to absorb water and to turn waste into soil waste, which is what we know as stools. If there is less water or liquid this means stools will be harder and dryer. It may be that the colon absorbs too much water or there is not enough water in the first place. It makes sense that anything hard is going to cause strain and difficulty. Straining has negative effects on the whole body and this is why constipation must to be ignored.
The main solution is to drink, drink, and drink. A good idea is to always have a bottle of water with you, where ever you go. You can invest in filtered water bottles to have whilst working at your desk or travelling on your commute. You should aim to drink more than the recommended 8 glasses of water a day, instead make it 10-12.
Food for thought!
Food really can be medicine, especially with digestive issues. Fibre and plant based products are the most natural and non-invasive solutions. Fibre actually refers to the edible parts found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. A fishy fact for you: some fibre can also be found in seafood such as crab and lobster. Fibre can vary from soluble to insoluble, soluble fibre assists with the absorption of nutrients from food and insoluble fibre bulks your stool up which helps it pass with ease. Most of the plants we can eat store soluble fibre, common to look out for are oats, barley, strawberries, peas and potatoes. However, insoluble fibre is easy to find in cereals, seeds, whole grains and the skins of fruits and veg.
Flax seeds are very effective, they contain similar properties to laxatives. Flush down some seeds with a glass of water. Common fruits to free you from your pain are dried fruits such as figs or prunes. The power of prunes is that they also fight disease with antioxidants along with laxative properties. A quick trick is to boil the fruits in water. Fresh fruit and vegetables do wonders, especially legumes such as beans and lentils, beans, beans good for your heart, the more you eat the more you … Legumes contain fibre which specifically stimulates colonic flora which naturally increases the weight of stools. Orange juice, castor oil, apricots, honey and yoghurt are also fast and relieving ingredients to sooth your bowel problems One thing to be very aware of is that you should slowly and gradually increase your fibre intake.
These remedies may be quick fixes aimed for relief and soothing pain but it is also important to consider your diet as a whole which will ensure prevention of constipation. You should introduce raw carrots, apples, lemon juice with water, fruit salads and fruit and fibre cereal will all work wonders in keeping your digestive system working properly. Fruit really is the way forward, as well as the introduction of herbs into your diet as herbal heals. Happy herbs such as Triphala, Senna leaf, Psyllium husk and aloe vera juice are natural components which complement the gut and infuse your body with healing properties.
The Ayurvedic angle
The Ayurvedic perspective views constipation as a disease, but not to freak you out, it does so as it takes the matter more seriously than just a symptom. The Ayurvedic angle has four parts to fight the frustration of constipation. These include: home remedies, diet changes, life style changes and yoga. Some of the home remedies are as followed: a glass of luke-warm water every morning, herbal teas, carrot juice, soaking 6-8 raisins in hot water and cooling and crushing for a soothing smoothie, drinking a glass of warm milk every morning and drinking lime juice with hot water. The Ayurvedic diet directions for constipation relief are to divulge in oily and bulky foods such as grains, raw fruits and fruit juices. In general it recommends: eating more fruits and fruits salads, consuming fresh food, avoiding fried food, being wary of dry food, topping up with oil to cooked meals, sticking to fixed meals every day and not skipping meals. Ayurvedic life style measures include exercising often, especially with simple walks or jogs, always using the toilet every morning, keeping relaxed, medicating to ease anxiety, regulating sleeping hours, drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up and making sure to walk off a meal with at least 100 steps before sleeping.
However, the Ayurvedic angle is not just jogs and fruit yoghurts but yoga is a fundamental lifestyle activity which is a proven cure for constipation. The focus of yoga is to help you to relax and relieve your immediate thoughts along with your body’s anxiety. It aims to maintain presence in the moment and only the moment. Asanas and stretches help your body and muscles to relax whilst simultaneously stimulating movement in your bowels. Yoga is good for the body and good for the mind. It also gives your soul a good talking to too especially if stress is your main demon. Chronic stress or random stress can heavily disrupt your digestive movements. Fixing your diet and lifestyle can alleviate constipation but if stress is still there stirring the pot, the same problems will persist. Stress can actually suppress the gastro colic reflex, so unconsciously this action means the bowels are affected. Fighting stress levels with awareness, exercise, yoga and talking will be the most important changes you can make to challenge constipation.
Get up to speed!
Exercise speeds you up and speeds up your bowels. Exercise is proven to decrease the time it takes for food to move through you. Aerobic exercise in particular stimulates your breathing and heart rate which means the natural contractions of your intestinal muscles are also accelerated. You should wait an hour after eating; otherwise your blood flows to the heart and muscles instead the stomach and intestines. Give your body time to digest before setting out to run, jump or skip. Walking, swimming, jogging, dancing are particularly effective aerobic exercises to ease constipation constrictions.
Working on your worries, uplifting your mood with exercise and soothing your soul with yoga, mixed with fresh and healthy food will all work towards fighting your constipation burdens. If you begin to take these measures they will become a part of your lifestyle, so you won't even think about it, you will just do it automatically and your digestive system will automatically improve! It is time to take action and with constipation this means a specific action-plan to fit your individual needs. Herb up, stand up and let your CONStipation in life flush away....