Constipation relief is experienced only by having regular, healthy bowel movements. Through a constipation diet, this can be achieved without over the counter or prescription medications. Constipation is not a disease, but it is a symptom of a malfunctioning digestive system. Most of the time, this is a temporary symptom that most people experience periodically and is not considered to be threatening, but left untreated, constipation can cause other problems. Understanding what constipation is, what causes it, how to prevent it and how to treat it when it does occur greatly illustrates the need for a constipation diet.
Constipation is characterized by having a bowel movement less than three times per week. When a person who is constipated does have a bowel movement, stools are often painful to pass, are very dry, hard and emerge in very small pieces.
Diet is a major culprit in causing constipation. This involves not consuming enough natural fiber and dehydration. Other factors that contribute to constipation are:
- Lack of daily exercise
- Disease (stroke is the most common disease that creates a sluggish bowel)
- Avoiding a bowel movement when the urge to have one occurs
- Aging (especially if exercise slows and medications increase)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Conditions or illnesses affecting the rectum or colon, or that otherwise interrupt healthy intestinal function
A failure to regularly relieve the bowel is the most obvious symptom of constipation. Other symptoms include:
- Having less than three bowel movements per week
- Hard stools
- Feeling bloated or uncomfortable
- Loss of appetite
- Bad breath
- Straining or forcing bowel movements
- Feeling as though elimination is incomplete
- Feeling as though something is obstructing the bowel
Some who are experiencing symptoms of constipation may also experience bloody stools as hemorrhoids may form as a result of straining to empty the bowel.
The best treatment to bring constipation relief is a diet filled with unprocessed, natural food choices. Diets that are high in nutritional fiber from fruits and green vegetables are among the best natural cures and home remedies for constipation. Specific foods that should be implemented into such a diet are:
- Whole grain rice
- Whole grain cereal
- Pure fruit juice
- Pure vegetable juice
Foods that should be avoided as part of a constipation diet are:
- Caffeinated foods and beverages
- Alcoholic beverages
- Processed flour
- Processed sugar
- Fast or processed foods of all types
A variety of herbs can also bring constipation relief, such as:
- Cascara Sagrada (also known as California buckthorn or sacred bark)
- Dong Quai
- Fennel seed
- White ash
- Blue flag
- Wild Oregon grape
When using herbs for constipation relief, it is important not to become too dependent on them. Instead, herbal laxatives should be used as a temporary source of constipation relief and should only be used for a period of one to two weeks at a time. The main idea in attaining constipation relief is being able to improve bowel elimination through diet and rebalancing the digestive system. While herbal remedies are normally safe and effective, they should only be used to jumpstart the elimination process and a constipation diet should be used to properly maintain it.
While a change in dietary habits can bring enormous constipation relief, it is also necessary that a change in overall lifestyle be implemented in order to further support this effort. By adding daily exercise to the constipation diet, a balanced circulation of blood and oxygen is restored to vital organs and decreases the chances of constipation returning. If possible, light exercise after a meal, such as walking, is encouraged. Conversely, lying down or napping after a meal is strongly discouraged for anyone who is seeking constipation relief.
Along with improving the diet and increasing daily exercise, the discomfort that accompanies constipation can be relieved by a gentle massage to the stomach, as well as warm baths. This is especially helpful to children who may experience tummy aches as a result of constipation.
It is true that constipation, in and of itself, is not automatically a symptom of a larger problem. It is also true that almost everybody experiences constipation at some time or another. However, chronic constipation, if not properly treated and avoided, can cause serious health issues over time, such as painful or bleeding hemorrhoids caused by a tearing of the anal tissue. Constipation can also cause a painful fecal impaction or a rectal prolapse. A prolapse in the rectum is particularly dangerous, as it often requires surgery to repair, tighten or strengthen a damaged sphincter muscle.
Natural cures for constipation further create room for other internal organs to properly function. Chronic constipation can cause crowding to other organs and can interrupt their circulation. Due to the colon’s large size, it touches multiple other organs, nerves and blood vessels. Constipation can cause the colon to swell and add pressure to these organs, which can produce a variety of other problems if the symptom is left untreated.
Waste should be eliminated from the body, not stored. When waste is allowed to linger too long, this can cause a toxic imbalance in the body. Those who sincerely seek constipation relief will find that dietary changes not only offer constipation remedies, but that a healthier diet also increases good health overall and decreases the risks of other illnesses. For those wishing to avoid all symptoms of constipation, it is best to implement a constipation diet into one’s daily routine as an effective precaution.