Constipation: Dietary Recommendations

Constipation results when waste material moves too slowly through the large bowel, resulting in infrequent and/ or painful elimination. Constipation can give rise to many different ailments, including appendicitis, bad breath, body odor, coated tongue, depression, diverticulitis, fatigue, gas, headaches, hemorrhoids (piles), hernia, indigestion, insomnia, malabsorption syndrome, obesity, and and varicose veins. It may even be involved in the development of serious diseases such as bowel cancer.

It is important that the bowels move on a daily basis. The colon is a holding tank  for waste matter that should be removed within eighteen to twenty-four hours. Harmful toxins can form after this period. Antigens and toxins form bowel bacteria and undigested food particles may play a role in the development of diabetes mellitus, meningitis, myasthenia gravis, thyroid disease, candidiasis, chronic gas and bloating, migraines, fatigue and ulcerative colitis.

In most cases, constipation arises from insufficient amounts of fiber and fluids in the diet. Other causative factors include inadequate exercise, advanced age, muscle disorders, structural abnormalities, bowel diseases, neuro-genic disorders, and a poor  diet, especially heavy consumption of junk food. Constipation may be a side effect of iron supplements and some drugs, such as painkillers and antidepressants. It is also common during pregnancy.

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High levels of calcium and low levels of thyroid hormone are two metabolic disturbances that can lead to constipation. People with kidney failure or diabetes also tend to have problems with constipation. In older individuals, constipation is often caused by dehydration, in people of any age, depression can be a factor.

A small percentage of people, such as persons with spinal injuries, have problems with constipation because the nerves that usually regulate bowel movement have been damaged or destroyed. In a condition called Hirschsprung’s disease, normal  excretion of feces is impossible because the nerves inside the bowel are missing. The nerve cells in the wall of the colon can also be damaged by long-term, habitual use of laxatives. When this happens, constipation is inevitable. A thrombosed hemorrhoid, anal fissure, or a pocket of infection at the anus can create a spasm of pain strong enough to contract the muscles and hinder the evacuation of stools.

DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS

*        Eat high-fiber foods such as fresh fruits, raw green leafy vegetables, and brown rice daily. Also eat asparagus, beans, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, garlic, kale, okra, peas, sweet potatoes, and whole grains.

*        Drink more water. This is important when adding fiber to the diet. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, whether you are thirsty or not.

*        Consume plenty of foods that are high in pectin, such as apples, carrots, beets, bananas, cabbage, citrus fruits, dried peas, and okra. Pectin is also available in supplement form.

*        Follow a low-fat diet. Eat no fried foods.

*        Avoid foods that stimulate secretions by the mucous membranes, such as dairy productsm, fats, and spicy foods.

*        Do not consume dairy products, soft drinks, meat, white flour, highly processed foods, salt, coffee, alcohol, or sugar. These foods are difficult to digest and have little or no fiber.

*        For quick relief of constipation, drink a large glass of quality water every ten minutes for half an hour. This can work wonders to flush out toxins and relieve constipation.

*        Eat prunes or figs. These are the best natural laxatives.

*        Eat smaller protions no large, heavy meals.

*        Consume barley juice, green Magma from Green Foods corporation, kyo-Green from wakunaga, or wheatgrass for chlorophyll.

*        Get some exercise. Physical activity speeds the movement of waste through the intestines. A twenty –minute walk can often relieve constipation. Regular exercise is also important for preventing constipation in the first place.

*        Go to the toilet at the same time each day, even if the urge does not exist, and relax. Stress tightens the muscles, and can cause constipation. Many people find reading helpful as a way to relax. Never repress the urge to defecate.

*        Keep the bowel clean.

*        If constipation is persistent, take cleansing enemas.

*        Do not consume products containing mineral oil, which can interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Also avoid taking Epsom salts, milk of magnesia, and citrate of magnesia, which draw volumes of fluid into the intestines and wash out mineral from the body.

*        Heavy laxative users should take acidophilus to replace the “friendly” bacteria. The continued use laxatives cleans out the intestinal bacterial and leads to chronic constipation.