It’s been estimated that between 2 and 10 per cent of the Australian population suffer from constipation at any one time. It’s both painful and annoying when it strikes, and not being able to go to the toilet can interfere with all aspects of your life. With a little education, however, you can minimise the chances of getting constipated, leaving you with more time and energy to live your life. As is always the case: prevention is better than cure. Getting to know the root causes of constipation is an education that’ll definitely pay dividends when it comes to your digestive health. So what causes constipation?
Not drinking enough water can often lead to constipation. You need to ensure you’re drinking at least 2 liters of water per day (more if you’re particularly active) in order to prevent your body from getting dehydrated. Without enough water your body is unable to soften your stools as they pass through your digestive system, and this slows down the whole digestive process. Also, to put it bluntly, without adequate water intake your stools become hard and dry, and makes for a painful experience when going to the toilet. Nobody wants this; so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water.
2. A lack of fiber in your diet
Not getting enough fiber is one of the most common causes of constipation. You need tons of fiber in your diet to help your body process, and then expel, the waste throughout your body. Try and limit eating low fiber foods (e.g., fast food, processed food, cheese and ice cream) and opt instead for foods that are high in fiber (e.g., fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains). Eating lots of food rich in fiber will prevent constipation from ever becoming a problem for you.
3. Inactive lifestyle
A lack of exercise, or extended periods of inactivity, can also cause constipation. In order to help your digestive system function optimally, staying active as much as possible is advisable. By moving around and getting lots of exercise, you can help speed up your metabolism, which will ultimately help you process and expel your foods normally. Moving around also helps your body process waste more efficiently, meaning that you’ll be dispelling your waste sooner rather than later.
4. Feeling stressed
Feeling stressed can also lead to constipation. Your body – including certain key muscles and organ groups – needs to be in a state of relaxation in order for your bowels to release. If you’re not relaxed, but feeling tense due to stress, you may find it difficult to go to the toilet. Try and manage stress by making sure you’re getting enough exercise and taking enough time off to unwind. Your bowels – and ultimately your digestive health – will thank you for it.
5. A change in routine
A sudden change in routine (e.g., when traveling) or lifestyle can often trigger bouts of constipation. Sleeping at different hours, and eating at times you’re usually doing other things can disrupt your internal body clock, and have a negative effect on your digestive health. So don’t be alarmed the next time you feel constipated on your next holiday: your body may just need some time getting used to its new surroundings. Drinking plenty of water, eating lots of fiber rich foods, being active as much as possible and limiting potential stress will definitely help your body adjust and feel regular in no time at all.
Take note of the above and hopefully your bowel movements will remain as steady as clockwork.