The saying ‘Morning shows the day’ holds particular relevance to this topic. A constipated morning-show would imply remaining edgy throughout the day. Constipation is explained by experts as irregular stool movement and hardening of stool obstructing its passage.
Constipation means having less than three bowel movements per week. Normal bowel habits vary from person to person. While some people go three times a day; others go 3-4 times in a week. Not having a bowel movement for a few days does not mean that you have constipation. Many people believe not having regular bowel movement causes the body to absorb poisonous substances in stools. This is not true.
This annoying and painful condition occurs mainly due to lack of exercise, not drinking enough water, consuming refined foods and lack of fibre in the diet. Constipation can be easily avoided by making a few changes to our daily habits including diet and lifestyle. These include:
-First and foremost, drinking at least 3 litres of water is a must for adults. Water hydrates the body and softens stool and aids its movement from the colon.
-Include fibre-rich vegetables like carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, varieties of gourd etc. in your diet. Blanch the veggies and sprinkle on some seasoning and spices. Have portions equivalent to 250-300 grams daily.
-A fruit a day will keep constipation blues away. Besides containing dietary fibre fruits like orange, apple, papaya, dates, figs etc. are packed with nutrients.
-Substitute white rice and polished wheat with whole grain products like brown rice and unpolished wheat. Oats also have similar qualities. Eat a cup full of these healthy grains daily to fight constipation.
-Using the toilet at a fixed time every day will trick the body’s biological clock into creating a routine to defecate effectively. The morning is the best time to get started in this regard.
-Avoid alcoholic drinks as much as possible. Alcohol dehydrates the body and causes stool to harden.
-Start exercises like jogging, cycling, running and swimming to boost your metabolic rate and fight constipation.
-Lessen or eliminate the consumption of oil and sugar-rich food from your diet as these upset digestion, cause constipation and lead to obesity.
These are some simple ways to prevent constipation. But if you already suffer from constipation, here are some simple, safe and effective home remedies to relieve it:
Home Remedies To Relieve Constipation
–Triphala leaves/powder: This bitter tasting Ayurvedic product works wonders in easing the bowel movement. Soak Triphala leaves in a glass of water throughout the day or mix powdered Triphala in a glass of warm water and drink before bed for best results.
–Lemon and Honey: Drink a glass of warm water mixed with the juice of half a lemon and a tablespoon of honey after you wake up. The laxative properties of this mixture have been found to ease up the insides and cure constipation.
–Baking Soda: Mix one tablespoon of baking soda in half a cup of water and gulp down at one go. This cleanses the stomach and facilitates bowel movement.
–Castor Oil: Have a teaspoon of castor oil mixed with a teaspoon of honey in the morning. The laxatives of both will result in painless defecation.
–Jaggery (Gur): Eat a bite-size piece of jaggery after dinner or use a teaspoonful to sweeten your morning cup of tea. Its rich Magnesium content will ease constipation.
–Coffee: The morning cuppa is what many swear by to feel the much anticipated ‘pressure’. The caffeine stimulates the digestive and excretory systems. It is advisable to limit coffee to two cups a day as coffee has a dehydrating effect on our system.
Tips To Avoid Constipation When Traveling
Do you suffer from constipation when traveling? And symptoms like gas, bloating or cramps that go along with it? Studies suggest that about 40% of people get constipated when they travel. Here are some effective ways to ensure that you do not get constipated during travel or vacation :
1. Stay well hydrated
When you’re traveling, drinking the required amount of water isn’t usually high on your list, but being hydrated is essential to avoid constipation. Always carry a water bottle with you and keep sipping as you go on with your plans.
2. Choose your foods wisely
Avoid excessive amounts of low-fiber snack foods and desserts such as candy, cheese, pizza, processed foods, chips and ice cream. They can make your constipation worse. Opt for high fiber foods like oatmeal, whole grains, green leafy vegetables. Add constipation relieving foods to your plate like figs, prunes, papaya, pear, pineapple, broccoli, lentils.
3. Limit intake of dehydrating beverages
Most vacations include alcoholic drinks and caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and cola drinks which eliminate water from your body and cause dehydration. If you can’t avoid these types of beverages, drink at least one cup of water in between to keep your body hydrated.
4. Stay active
Try to stay active and keep moving whenever possible. Instead of sitting at the gate waiting for the boarding announcement, walk up and down the terminal a few times at a fast pace. If you are taking a long road journey, stop for short breaks and do some stretching or take a stroll for 5-10 minutes. Staying active will also help prevent many other health problems.
5. Listen to your body
If your body is telling you to go to the bathroom, don’t put it off because you’re near a public restroom or don’t want to interrupt your sightseeing. If you ignore the urge, it can lead to or worsen your constipation. If you don’t have a bowel movement for ten minutes after trying, move on and try again when you feel the urge. Set aside 10-15 minutes daily to use the restroom at leisure. This will help in regulating your bowel movements.
6. Get plenty of rest
Sometimes travel can add more stress and anxiety making you prone to constipation. Also, not following a regular sleep pattern during vacation can also aggravate constipation. Ensure you get 6-7 hours of sound sleep without any distractions.
While the above mentioned dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as some home remedies, will help you to regulate your bowel habits, it is best to consult a doctor for chronic conditions. Stay Healthy, Stay Happy!