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How to relieve constipation quickly and naturally!

Image-05By Dr R JM Romney

Constipation, or the difficult or uncomfortable passage of stools (faeces), can be a very annoying condition. It occurs most often because people don't have enough fibre and/or water in their diet. Constipation can also occur as a result of too little exercise, or it can be a side effect of a number of different drugs. Everyone experiences this phenomenon from time to time, but the good news is that there are safe, gentle and natural remedies to both relieve and prevent constipation. With some minor adjustments to your daily routine, you can deal with this problem inexpensively and in the privacy of your own home, and make it a less common occurrence in your life.

If you are dealing with recurring constipation and if none of the methods outlined below help, see a healthcare professional.

Method 1: Changing your diet

1. Eat more fibre.

Fibre helps keep your bowel movements regular, so eating more of it is a great way to both alleviate constipation and prevent it from recurring. Some good choices for increasing your fibre intake include the following:

-Berries and other fruits, especially those with an edible skin, such as apples and grapes.

-Dark, leafy green vegetables like collard, mustard and beet greens, as well as Swiss chard.

-Other vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, carrots, cauliflower, brussels sprout, artichokes and green beans.

-Beans and other legumes such as kidney, navy, garbanzo, pinto, lima and white beans, as well as lentils and black-eyed peas.

-Whole, unprocessed grains. An easy rule of thumb is that if it is a light colour or white, it has probably been processed. Cereals like granola tend to have the highest fibre, but if you are buying boxed cereals, read the label to make sure your choice is high in fibre.

-Seeds and nuts such as pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, or flax seeds,[2] as well as almonds, walnuts and pecans.

2. Eat prunes.

Prunes are not only high in fibre but also contain sorbitol, a stool-loosening sugar that naturally helps relieve constipation. Sorbitol is a mild colonic stimulant that helps reduce the transit time of stool and decreases the risk of constipation.

-If you don't like the wrinkly texture or unique taste of prunes, prune juice may be a more palatable alternative.

-Prune juice should start working within a few hours, so it's important to let one glass pass through your intestines before attempting to drink another, or you may risk diarrhoea.

-Note that prunes have 14.7 grams of sorbitol per 100 grams of fruit, whereas prune juice has 6.1 grams per 100 grams of juice. You will have to drink more prune juice to achieve the same health benefits because the prunes are processed, and you will also take in additional sugars

3. Drink more water.

Hard, dry stools are a common cause of constipation, so the more water you add, the easier it will be to pass the stool. Experts don't have a hard and fast rule about how much water you should drink each day, but the most common recommendation is to drink about eight 8-ounce glasses. Use that as a starting point and find what works best for you.

4. Eat yoghurt.

Yoghurt contains lives bacterial cultures (probiotics) that create the right environment for your digestive system to stay healthy and run on a regular schedule. Try adding a cup of yoghurt to your daily diet.

-The bacteria in yogurt are thought to alter the microflora in the gut and reduce the amount of time it takes for your food to be digested and move through your system.

-Check the label to make sure the yogurt you buy has "active cultures" of live bacteria.

-Other fermented and cultured foods such as kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut also contain beneficial bacteria that may aid in digestion and relieve constipation.

Method 2: Change your lifestyle

1. Walk more!

Many people spend most of their day seated in front of a computer, and this lack of exercise can contribute to constipation. If you can, try taking hourly walk-breaks to "massage" your bowels.

-The total time walking should be about 10 minutes every hour or so. If that amount of time doesn't work for you because of other responsibilities, don't worry. Just try to increase the amount of faster-than-normal walking you do whenever possible.

-If you are severely constipated, this may be somewhat uncomfortable, but try not to get discouraged. It's better than another day of constipation.

2. Take your time!

When you visit the restroom, make sure you have enough time to relax and try to let your bowels do the most of the work. If you can, try to pick a time you won't be interrupted.

-Try to relax and let nature take its course. Bring a book or magazine, and just try to be calm and patient.

-Try a different position. Aboriginal people tend to have bowel movements while squatting, and this position can be helpful. When you are on the toilet, use a stool or the edge of the bathtub to prop your feet up.

-You want to bring your knees in as close to your chest as possible. This increases the pressure on your bowels and may ease the passage of a stool.

3. Try yoga!

There are several yoga poses you can try to help stimulate your bowel and get your body in a comfortable position to have a bowel movement. They can increase the internal pressure on your intestines and help the bowels move the stool more easily. Among these are the following:

-Baddha Konasana: In a seated position, bend your knees and bring your feet together so the soles are touching, and grasp your toes with your hands. Flutter your legs quickly, then lean forward so that your forehead touches the floor. Hold for five to 10 breaths.

-Pavanamuktasana: In a reclined position, stretch your legs out in front of you. Bring one knee up to your chest, and hold it there with your hands. Pick one leg and pull your knee against your chest and flex or wiggle your toes. Hold that position for five to 10 breaths, then repeat with the other leg.

-Uttanasana: From a standing position, keep your legs straight and bend at the waist. Touch the mat with your hands or grasp the back of your legs. Hold for five to 10 breaths.

Tips

-If you are dealing with recurring constipation and if none of the methods outlined above help, if you see blood or mucous in the stools, see a healthcare professional and tell them about your problem.

-There is no "rule" that applies to everyone about how many bowel movements you should have. Most people feel most comfortable when they have at least one bowel movement every day, but some have two or three bowel movements a day and this is perfectly normal. Others have a bowel movement every other day, and this is normal for them. In general, at least four-eight times a week seems to be most common.

-People with more frequent bowel movements tend to have high fibre diets and are often vegetarians or vegans. Those with fewer bowel movements tend to have higher meat content in their diet. If constipation is a frequent problem for you, consider decreasing your consumption of meat.

-Try to "mix up" and combine the different methods. In other words, for example, increase the fibre in your food, go for walks, and try some yoga positions.

-High fibre foods and drinking lots of water will not only help relieve, but also help prevent constipation.

-Try having lemon water. The acid in the lemon will soften the stool and will ease the movement in your bowels.

Hughes Medical Center in Anguilla offers consultation and expert colonoscopy by a Board-Certified Gastroenterologist in a comfortable and respectful setting. To schedule a consultation or colonoscopy, contact 264 497 3053 or admin@ hughesmedical.com

Visit Dr. ROMNEY's Website at www.drromney.sitew.org for additional information or an appointment. Next visits will be June 5 & 6.

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