Cure your Constipation and Improve Digestive Health

by Pankaj Kotak, M.Sc., N.D.


Constipation occurs when the waste materials move too slowly through the large intestine. It results in infrequent and poor elimination. Chronic constipation can cause many diseases such as appendicitis, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids (piles), indigestion, insomnia, depression, obesity and even colon cancer.

Chronic constipation can cause poor absorption of nutrients which can result in serious nutritional deficiencies. Also, autointoxication can happen if the toxins from waste material get absorbed by the body. If you eat everyday, you should move your bowels everyday. Ideally, a person should get a bowel movement after every meal. But, most people get just one a day. It is fine, as long as you are regular.

The following factors have an adverse effect on the bowel and must be avoided:

  • Too much stimulants such as tea, coffee and caffeinated soda
  • Lack of fiber in the diet due to high consumption of refined carbohydrates and processed foods
  • Eating too much food in one sitting
  • Eating fast and without any real hunger
  • Eating late at night, especially after mid-night
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Sedentary life
  • Mental stress
  • Heavy use of stimulant laxatives

Let's look at some of the factors that play a vital role in maintaining the health of the bowel.

Fiber:

Fiber is vital for a healthy digestive system. It provides bulk and helps in stimulating rhythmic peristaltic motion which pushes the semi-solid material forward in the intestine, thus reducing the passage time of food. It acts as a broom which sweeps the intestine and binds the toxins during its passage. It also heals the stomach lining. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are high in fiber and must be consumed frequently during the day. If this is not possible, psyllium husk supplements can be used to supplement the fiber.

Minerals:

Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium are important minerals for gastrointestinal (G.I.) health. They are vital for muscle contraction and relaxation. They improve the bowel action and tone. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are excellent natural sources of these minerals.

Friendly Bacteria:

There are billions of good and bad bacteria in the intestine. If bad bacteria outnumber the good ones, constipation and other G.I. disorders can happen. Therefore, friendly bacteria must be regularly replenished either via fermented milk products like yogurt, butter milk, or kefir; or by using a probiotic supplement that contains Lactobacillus Acidophilus and other strains of beneficial bacteria. Scientific research is finding that friendly bacteria are important in maintaining good G.I. health.

Chewing:

Digestion of carbohydrates begins in the mouth by the mixing of saliva with food as a result of chewing. Thorough chewing breaks down the food into fine particles which are easier to digest in the stomach. Inadequate chewing can cause overeating, indigestion and stomach discomfort.

Water:

Water is very important for digestive health. It provides moisture to the food material in the G.I. tract making it semi-solid and easy to push forward. It also flushes and removes toxins from the intestine. Drinking 8 to 10 glass of water is essential during the summer and 6 to 8 glasses during the rest of the year.

Relaxation to Relieve Stress:

Over the past few decades, an increasing amount of scientific research has shown that stress slows down the passage of food in the G.I. tract. Acute stress even stops the movement of food in the intestine. Relaxation techniques such as listening to music or meditation can be used to relieve stress.

Exercise:

Exercise helps in improving the strength and tone of the muscles. Physical activity speeds the movement of waste through the intestines. 20 to 30 minutes of walking daily can often help in relieving constipation. Regular exercise also prevents constipation.

REFERENCES

1. Rolfe RD. The Role of Probiotic Cultures in the Control of Gastrointestinal Health. Journal of Nutrition. 2000;130:396S-402S.

2. Kellow JE., et al. Effects of Acute Psychologic Stress on Small-Intestinal Motility in Health and the Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. January 1992;27(1):53-58.


Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
More articles from the General Wellness Category