Next, you will learn how to identify constipation, why it is important to solve it and how to improve your intestinal transit without having to resort to laxatives that , instead of solving the problem, will worsen your constipation.
Before starting, how do I know if I suffer from constipation?
You should know that there is no optimal or unique intestinal rhythm for everyone: everyone has their rhythm, it is correct to go 3-4 times a day or only 3 times a week as long as you feel intestinal well-being, without bloating or urgency to go from belly.
We understand constipation as having less than 3 stools a week, with a very dry or rigid consistency and having difficulty passing stool or having the sensation of incomplete evacuation.
Why should you fight constipation?
Constipation affects about 25% of the population, mostly older people and women, although it can appear at any time in life and in anyone.
It is important that you know that its damages go beyond not being able to go to the bathroom comfortably, but can alter the quality of life causing pain and abdominal swelling or general discomfort. It is also related to other pathologies such as hemorrhoids, anal fissure, diverticulitis, colon cancer, bacterial overgrowth, dysbiosis, etc. That is why it is important to solve it and never normalize this situation .
Why do I suffer from constipation?
In most cases, the main cause is following an incorrect diet and a sedentary lifestyle.
If improving your eating and lifestyle habits, as we will see below, the problem is not solved, you should consult a specialist because the causes could be others such as low intestinal motility, intestinal obstruction, irritable bowel, some medications, hypothyroidism , celiac etc.
5 pillars to combat constipation
If you want to improve your intestinal transit, keep in mind the 5 pillars to combat constipation:
- Diet rich in fiber : eat 2-3 dishes of vegetables or salads, 2-3 servings of whole fruit and cereals in their complete form, that is, whole grains (such as bread, pasta, rice…) every day. It also regularly includes legumes, nuts and seeds.
- Hydration : consuming enough liquid throughout the day will be essential, because if you do not hydrate the fiber you consume, you will only be able to form an intestinal plug. Therefore, drink around 1.5-2L of liquid throughout the day, in the form of water, broths or infusions.
- Exercise : physical activity will be of great help since it improves peristalsis (the movement of your intestine) favoring the evacuation of the intestinal bolus. So try to move during the day: you can walk, go up, go down stairs, etc.
- Keep your intestinal flora in good condition . A healthy microbiota, in addition to facilitating the correct absorption of certain nutrients in the intestine, helps normalize intestinal transit. To take care of it, it will be appropriate to consume probiotics , foods or supplements that contain live bacteria. Some examples are fermented milks such as yogurts or kefir or other fermented ones such as sauerkraut. In addition to the usual consumption of prebiotics (fibers that help the growth of your bacteria such as FOS, present in onions, asparagus, rye, oats, artichokes, etc.)
- hygienic measures . Not only what you eat is important, but also the attitude towards this situation: try not to repress the evacuation reflex, give yourself enough time and if necessary set a schedule to have the peace of mind you need. You can help yourself with a stool to support your feet so that your knees are higher, facilitating evacuation.
Foods that harm intestinal transit and promote constipation
In addition, there are foods that you can enhance or reduce to regulate your intestinal transit.
It is important that you know those foods that, if consumed in excess, can promote constipation due to their astringent nature. Moderate the consumption of:
- Fruits such as apple, banana and quince especially
- Non-whole grain farinaceous especially white rice or white bread toast
- Some foods with tannins like him.
Foods that will help you avoid constipation
On the contrary, there are foods that you can enhance and consume more regularly so that your transit improves.
- Among the most recommended fruits we find kiwi, orange, tangerines and plums.
- Vegetables and vegetables such as chard, spinach, escarole, eggplant, artichoke, chicory, radishes and asparagus.
- Avoid alcohol, as it dehydrates (among other harms)
- Avoid making meals with excess fat because they can cause heavy digestion.
If after a few weeks maintaining these habits , your intestinal transit does not improve and you continue to suffer from constipation, you should consult a specialist to rule out other reasons.
If you need any help try to avoid laxatives . Most of these act by irritating the inner wall of your intestine and this, little by little, destroys the intestinal villi and your intestinal bacteria (so important for maintaining gastrointestinal health). In addition, it does not favor the natural movements of the intestine and its continued consumption ends up causing a dependency.
You can choose supplements that take care of your intestine and do not generate this dependency in the long term. You can use supplements that contain fiber, along with a good consumption of water and it can also help you to supplement with specific probiotics for constipation.
I hope that after reading this article you have a clearer idea of how to improve your intestinal transit and why you should not accept your constipation as something normal. And remember that if you just can’t apply what you know you should do, there are professionals, such as nutritionists and dieticians, who can help you.