What to do for constipation: 7 causes and solutions
Constipation is a bowel movement every two days or less. If the stool occurs irregularly, then something is wrong with the intestines. We will analyze the main reasons and find out how to fix the stool and when it is time to see a doctor. what causes constipation:
what causes constipation:
Constipation due to lack of water
Nutrients from the food bolus are absorbed in the small intestine, and undigested particles move further into the large intestine. It is there that feces are formed. Water is also absorbed there - and the consistency of feces depends on its amount.
With a lack of water, typical symptoms of constipation appear: feces become hard, dense, and lumpy, with difficulty moving through the intestines.
If a person does not systematically drink enough water, he develops chronic constipation.
The recommended water intake is about two liters per day. If you don’t feel like drinking plain water with glasses at all, soups, boiled or steamed food, fruits, and dishes from fresh vegetables will help you “get back to normal”. If there are problems with stools, fried, dried, smoked foods and dry snacks are best avoided - such foods are more likely to worsen the situation.
Constipation due to lack of fiber
Just drinking water is only half the battle against constipation. It is a fiber that retains water in the stool due to swelling, helping to promote it. Fiber is soluble and insoluble, and it is advisable to consume both types of dietary fiber daily.
The recommended fiber intake for an adult is about 30 grams per day. That's at least one fruit a day and one generous serving of vegetables. Also, mucus-forming products with soluble fiber - flaxseed porridge, and psyllium husks - will also help.
What foods contain fiber
With constipation, it is not necessary to lean on tasteless bran or unloved vegetables. You can add healthy fiber to your diet with a variety of foods and dishes:
- leafy greens;
- sprouts of legumes and grains;
- dried and pickled seaweed;
- whole wheat bread;
- Brown rice;
- whole grain spaghetti;
- whole grain loaves of bread;
- cereals from whole grains;
- dried fruits without added sugar.
Fiber not only helps to go to the toilet regularly but also feeds the intestinal microbiota. To maintain a healthy diversity of microflora, you need to consume a variety of types of dietary fiber.
The ability of gut bacteria to break down dietary fiber can be assessed using the Atlas Microbiota Test.
Bloating and constipation
A constant excess of gases in the intestines can cause spastic constipation. Accumulated gases prevent feces from moving along the tract. They cause pain and discomfort and cause spasms, because the intestinal loops are compressed, and transferred.
A common cause of bloating is dysbacteriosis, in which pathogenic microflora takes precedence over beneficial ones.
The Atlas microbiota test will help to find out the ratio of probiotics and other beneficial bacteria, to assess the diversity of the microbiota. By examining your bacteria, it is much easier to understand how to deal with bloating and constipation and what your microbiota is missing.
Hormonal problems and constipation
Thyroid hormones regulate essential bodily functions, including metabolism and digestion. With hypothyroidism, a violation of the production of thyroxine, chronic constipation, and other digestive disorders may occur.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism are very non-specific, so you need to get tested to check your thyroid hormones. When their levels are low, a person may also experience chronic fatigue, excessive sweating, muscle weakness, weight fluctuations, or heart rhythm disturbances.
External factors and spastic constipation
The gut-brain axis is a two-way connection that exists between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain. Fear, or even pleasurable excitement, is stress on the body, which provokes the “fight, flight, or freeze” response. Therefore, before an important event, such as a flight or an interview, it can be difficult to go to the toilet.
How the microbiota fights stress and depression
Stress can slow down peristalsis and cause spastic constipation, accompanied by acute colic.
Therefore, before a trip or an important meeting, it is better to have dinner with something easily digestible and not cause heaviness and seething in the stomach. A warm bath or shower, taking antispasmodics, a hot drink, meditation, and massage will help you relax.
Taking medications and dietary supplements as a cause of constipation
Constipation is mentioned as a side effect in the instructions for hundreds of different medications. If you've improved your diet but are still suffering from chronic constipation, check to see if you're taking any medication or food supplements that could be causing it.
These drugs and supplements can slow down peristalsis and make stools less regular:
This does not mean that you need to stop taking medications or supplements yourself if your stool is broken. Try to increase fluid and fiber intake and eat regularly. If that doesn't work, see your doctor and ask them to choose an alternative with fewer side effects or a mild laxative.
Sedentary lifestyle and atonic constipation
Atonic constipation often occurs in old age, when the functions of the body gradually slow down. But young people can also suffer from constipation, caused not by hypertonicity or spasms, but by a simple lack of movement.
When playing sports or just an active lifestyle, the blood circulates more intensively through the body, and metabolic processes are accelerated. Cycling, walking, and running will help with this. Also, in the fight against constipation, it is better to pay attention to activities in which you can move in a variety of ways and including the abdominal muscles. It can be dancing, swimming, yoga, or gymnastics.
What you need to know about constipation
No need to be scared when faced with chronic constipation - this is not a harbinger of cancer. But the problem cannot be ignored either. Persistent constipation and the need to push hard to have a bowel movement can increase your risk of developing hemorrhoids or tumors. If you cannot determine the cause of constipation on your own and eliminate it, you need to consult a doctor.
To cope with constipation, it is not necessary to immediately drink laxatives. It is much more useful to pay attention to the diet. About what products help to avoid constipation, we wrote a separate article.
Stool softeners: foods that prevent constipation
Severe pain, weight loss, blood or mucus in the stool, unusually thin “pencil” stools – you should consult a doctor with these symptoms. It is important to be examined and check for inflammation, polyps, or other neoplasms in the intestines. Your doctor may order a calprotectin test, a marker of intestinal inflammation, as well as a colonoscopy and other tests.
The state of the microbiota affects the regularity of the chair - we regularly talk about it in our blog. But each microbiota is unique. You can examine your gut bacteria with the Atlas Microbiota Test and get personalized advice on dietary changes, as well as your risk for Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and other gastrointestinal conditions.
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