Chronic constipation, where one does not have a bowel movement for 3 days or more, is complex to diagnose and should be taken seriously. Just about everyone will experience constipation during their lifetime. Reports of chronic constipation are as high as 20% of the population. In recent years up to $750 MILLION is spent EACH YEAR on laxatives. Occasional constipation can usually be relieved quickly, and is usually caused by unusual circumstances which are easy to change.
There are a number of possible causes of constipation that is ongoing. These include:
Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, which helps to cleanse the colon by the action of the movement of particles scraping and “sweeping” feces as it moves along through the colon.
A lack of water allows the feces to dry out, becoming difficult to pass and potentially blocking the colon. Physical blockage is no fun and may require surgical intervention. Drink more water. Note that sodas, alcohol and coffee tend to dehydrate the body – bad bad bad!
Lack of fiber gives the same effect as not enough fruits – the physical action of the movement keeps the bowels clean and removes the feces.
Foods that contain fat tend to slow the colon down, are harder to digest, and tend to remain in the colon longer. Plus, they can make you fat!
Finally, not acting on the urge to go, or making time to have a complete bowel movement, tends to “discourage” future bowel movements. Stress or being in a hurry can make this worse. This is an often overlooked cause of constipation, and one that can easily be rectified. Get some reading materials in there!
Besides the obvious effects, feeling bloated, full, and uncomfortable, there are a number of hidden effects that can be quite serious to the person suffering from constipation. With constipation, there is more feces in the colon than usual. The feces contains toxic materials, and the longer it remains inside, the more contact your bloodstream has with it, and the more chances these toxins will be re-introduced into your body through the blood.
Autopsies have found feces-stones and worms in over 50% of the colons examined, and these material can be decades old!
In addition, with a backed up colon, food remains in your stomach longer, undigested, leading to discomfort, and being able to eat a lot but not gaining weight – you are not getting much nourishment from the food you eat, because you are not digesting it.
Some of the medical conditions arising from chronic constipation include colitis, which is a deteriorating of the colon wall, anal fissures, hemorrhoids, and others. These are the possible direct consequences of constipation, not eliminating waste products from the body.
Indirect problems are much greater – because your stomach and colon act as a system, if you are not eliminating properly, you cannot digest properly, and your immune system is constantly battling the toxins that are lying in your colon, slowly poisoning your system.
As you can see, constipation has serious and far-reaching effects on your health. It is important to take care of your colon. If you are suffering from ongoing constipation, and want to try some natural remedies for constipation, I outline a few below.
Known as “Fletcherism,” this involves chewing each mouthful of food until it is almost a liquid. This way your food gets mixed well with saliva, which begins the digestion process right there in your mouth. Some people will count the chews, 20 being a good number. It can be useful to wait between mouthfuls a few seconds also.
This method alone would relieve a number of people from chronic constipation. This also helps to eat less, since you are eating so slowly that you will feel full long before you finish a plate of food. It takes your stomach about 20 minutes to signal the brain with the “full” sensation.
The rule of thumb for water intake is to divide your weight by ½ and drink that many ounces of water per day. So if you weigh 200 pounds, you would drink 100 oz of water per day. At least!
Movement can stimulate peristalsis, which is the motion of the smooth muscles that cause a bowel movement. While there are lots of exercises out there, I recommend you look into practicing Yoga. There are several postures that are highly beneficial to relief of chronic constipation.
Find a Yoga class nearby and take a few classes. Or you can go online and find information there.
An excellent book is “Yoga Self-Taught” by Andre Van Lysbeth, which is one of the best books for the beginner, giving many photographs and practical instructions.
Adding fiber is the first thing that comes to most people’s minds, and that will work. Make sure you add fiber slowly, increasing the amounts gradually. Adding too much fiber too quickly can cause gas, and actually make your constipation worse. Drink even MORE water when you add fiber. It’s best to use something like flax seeds or fibrous vegetables like kale or spinach, rather than laxatives. Using laxatives should be avoided if possible, because you can become dependent on them for the stimulation necessary to induce peristalsis. This can make the problem worse!
There are many other dietary changes you can make, I suggest you review some of the other articles on my site that have specific recommendations ranging from adding fiber to juices to supplements.
can also help to stimulate a bowel movement naturally. See my article Best Home Remedies For Constipation for more information on this natural way to ease constipation.
Chronic constipation can be avoided by taking some really simple steps. If you have been fighting with constipation for a while, consult your doctor so you can make sure it is not something serious. Once you have ruled out any serious causes to constipation, you can begin to make some of the changes I outline here, and in other articles on my site. It’s pretty simple, once you know what to do.
Take care of your digestive and eliminatory systems, and they will take care of you!