If you've ever experienced it then you know that constipation is no joke! And while it's quite common, we hardly discuss it. For most of us, embarrassment is one of the prime reasons for this. But, how would you go about discussing irregular bowel movements?
Understanding Your Cause for Constipation
Struggle or strain while passing stool
A sensation that something might be hindering your ability to poop
Your stool has a hard consistency, coming out as lumps or pebbles
Incomplete emptying after passing stools
Having only 2 - 3 three bowel movements every week
Tips to manage constipation
The good news is that this essentially means a significant portion of your struggles with your bowel movements can be managed with simple modifications to your lifestyle! Let’s explore some of the methods to relieve constipation:
At the top of any list for managing constipation is drinking plenty of fluids. Water is required for the smooth passage of poop. Dehydration is probably making your stools harder in turn resulting in the difficulty you experience during constipation. Alcohol and caffeine can result in dehydration which is why you should avoid them as fluids if you are constipated. You can replace your regular water with either sparkling or flavoured varieties, ensuring you are consuming more daily.
Exercising has been studied for its benefits in managing constipation. While exercise is not a cure, it can improve the efficacy of your bowel movements. Exercising improves digestion. It's also observed to increase bowel movements requiring less water for stool formation. In addition to all the benefits you reap from exercising, do not skip your daily 30 minutes when you feel constipated.
Increase the fiber, eliminate the processed
Dairy, processed, junk and fried foods are all known contributors to constipation. Although you may think that they are delicious, they're unfortunately making your bowel sluggish. Additionally, these foods are minimal in nutrient value. Fiber on the other hand contributes towards the bulk and consistency of your stool. This means you will find it easier to poop once you start supplementing your diet with fiber. Veggies, fruits, oats, and whole-grain food are great sources of fiber. Consume in moderation, excess fiber can worsen constipation in some cases.
Empty your bowels when you have the urge to do so
The longer you delay passing stools, the more difficult it gets. Your urge to poop often comes from your bowels contracting to enable your poop to pass. Waiting for a moment when you have the time, can take more effort to pass stools. At this time it becomes a voluntary action working against a system that's at rest. The stool also loses water if not passed for an extended period.
Change the way you poop
While it's relatively common to maintain what we assume as optimum posture slumped over our phone or magazine while doing our business, you may be surprised to learn that this is actually hampering your ability to poop efficiently. Propping your legs up on a little footstool and slightly slouching over your abdomen, a position similar to a squat on your potty is an ideal position for pooping. It helps to reduce straining and encourage bowel contraction.
Actively manage your stress
Stress is probably already disrupting a lot of your normal body functions, including your bowel movements. Bowel struggles under stress can range from constipation to diarrhea. What might work for others to manage their stress, might not work for you. Deep breathing, exercising, yoga, a good night’s rest, or even a short vacation (Bora Bora anyone?) can work wonders for your constipated bowel.
Why is dealing with constipation important
The exact cause of constipation can often be obscure. However, if you ever experience constipation, know that it's a sign that requires attention. Not only does constipation cause lingering discomfort and not to mention pain, but it can deteriorate your pelvic floor strength. The strain required, most of the time against the natural bowel movement, weakens the anal sphincter tone, in turn affecting your overall pelvic floor strength.
Straining while passing stools can also result in hemorrhoids and anal fissures. These conditions can result in bleeding, increasing the discomfort you are currently experiencing.
This is why if simple lifestyle modifications do not assist with tackling your constipation, consider visiting your healthcare provider. It can be tempting to take medications that have been marketed for constipation without medical approval, but the causes for constipation are many. You cannot pinpoint an exact cause without actually analyzing the details.