Chronic constipation is defined as infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools lasting several weeks or more after onset of symptoms. According to medical definition, constipation is defined as having less than three bowel motions each week.
Chronic constipation is defined as infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools that can last for several weeks or longer after the initial symptoms. Constipation is defined as having less than three bowel motions each week, according to medical definition.
Despite the fact that constipation seems to be quite common, some people suffer from chronic constipation, which can make it difficult for them to carry out their daily activities. People suffering from chronic constipation may also find themselves straining excessively in order to pass a bowel movement.
Chronic constipation is treated in part by addressing the underlying cause of the condition. However, in some instances, the root reason is never discovered.
Do you go every day? As a general rule, you should have at least one preferably two motions daily, and not too far away from your meals either. If you not at least have one bowel motion each and every day, or if you have inconsistent motions – in terms of how often (frequency), how they look (texture) then you have constipation.
In this article we will explore some causes and effects of constipation, and also take a look at how some diets can be a real problem with this annoying complaint and I’ll also give you some tips on how to improve this complaint.
I have found that most cases can be corrected with natural methods, and over 90% of constipation will respond to simple adjustments in lifestyle and diet. But there are always some cases that seem to be either very resistant or almost impossible to “crack”. TBH, I’ve only really seen a handful of such cases in the 34 years of my clinical practice.
Chronic constipation manifests itself in a variety of ways, including:
It is possible to have chronic constipation if you have experienced two or more of these symptoms for more than three months.
Improper chewing food
not paying attention with eating: watching TV or reading whilst eating. This can be a real problem, is this you? If you are finding it difficult to go and you can relate to the TV watching or reading– just turn the TV off or stop reading while you eat! Chewing food to a fine particle size makes sense – it facilitates digestion and absorption, improves peristalsis and bowel function. Bible quote: “Chew your grains until they are liquid”.
Dehydration, not enough water
Probably one of the leading causes. Aim for around 30 mls (an ounce) per kg of bodyweight each day when the weather is hot. You may not be having anywhere near that amount, particularly if you have been quite constipated for years. Be sure to drink plenty.
Insufficient intake of dietary fibre
The diets above may well fall into this category, too much protein and too little fibre. Keep you fluid intake high and make sure you eat ample fibre.
Long periods of immobility, stress or depression
Having regular bowel motions to me is a bit like a woman having a regular period. It comes in cycles, and when things go well they tend to stay well – until something happens. If you have recently had problems in going, look what happened just recently. A change in lifestyle? A separation or divorce, change of occupation? Did you start new medication?
Loperamide is an anti-diarrhoea drug which reduces peristalsis and increases intestinal transit time, causing constipation in some.Codeine & morphine are used to control pain but also unfortunately reduce the motility of the stool, and some antidepressants do this as well. Even aspirin can seriously affect the digestive tract, particularly the stomach, liver & small bowel. You may want to get your medications checked out carefully to see if they are a factor in your constipation. So many drugs affect your liver’s function, and can cause congestion here.There will be alternatives to drugs in case there is a constipation connection.
This is an area that comes up so often in the clinic. The 4 F’s – flatulent, forty, fat and fertile. Is that you? I find that many women aged between about 35 – 45, they may like chocolate, wine & nibbles like cheese & crackers, and this group is often affected with constipation or a sluggish bowel. When the gallbladder becomes sluggish, your bowel slows down. Bile is produced by the liver & stored in the gallbladder & helps to soften the stool and facilites excretion. Gallbladder removed? – then take digestive enzymes, e.g., fats & oils are not digested/absorbed well by these folk. Take a digestive enzyme when you take a fish-oil supplement, or Vitamin A. Bitters herbs and foods (brassica family, broccoli, cabage, etc.)
Lack Of Fibre
The Atkins Induction Phase
The risk can increase of developing chronic constipation by a number of factors, including:
Chronic constipation can lead to a variety of complications, including:
Medical treatment of constipation
The doctor’s answer is generally either a laxative, or a psyllium fibre supplement like Metamucil® . I’ve got a better idea, let’s find and treat the actual cause of the constipation, instead of just treating the symptoms.
Some practitioners would define constipation as the passage of a hard stool. Whilst a doctor I once knew told an elderly patient that it was perfectly acceptable for her to have a bowel motion every ten days, if that was her “regular pattern”. That’s just plain silly. In my opinion, it is the frequency and texture of your bowel motions which are all important factors, not the term constipation, which will always remain arbitrary.
The frequency of bowel motions (how often you go) is important because it tells me how well your gut is functioning, and also how well your ‘gastro-colic reflex’ is working. Of course we are not taking account here if you have acute diarrhea from an infection or parasites, giardia, appendicitis, etc.
When you eat food it passes from your mouth down the oesophagus and into your stomach. The stomach then tells the colon to empty, and this is why (you should) after a meal feel like going to the toilet. This communication between the top end of the digestive system and the bottom end is called the ‘gastro-colic reflex’. In other words, the top tells the bottom that it must empty, because there is food coming down its way.
I went to Seattle in 2003 to complete a nutritional medicine course, and heard Dr. Alan Gaby say: “Small stools, big hospitals, big stools, small hospitals.
Stop going on those crazy fad diets!
Popular and fad diets include:
I could make this very long if I made note of all the diet books I have in my library. There are that many diets. Start to eat sensibly and permanently. Going on a diet is like getting involved in the latest fad, fads change every so many years and I’ve seen plenty, but common sense prevails. Be careful about any kind of “induction” phase of any kind of diet. You may find yourself stuck in one, sometimes for years. I’ve seen it happen plenty of times, the person stayed on the diet, including many different kinds of restrictions for many years.
If you’ve been on diet after diet after diet, surely its about time you realised that the only real way to improving your bowel, your waistline, your health along with your wallet is to eat and drink healthy and clean long-term. It takes time to build a healthy gut, it’s the bacteria you want to cultivate, plenty of good ones while discouraging those bad ones.
Those bad bugs love alcohol, soda drinks, candy, ice cream, chocolate, take away foods, and all those foods we know are no good. Give away those diet books and use plain common sense when you eat, regardless of what some latest fad book may tell you. Avoid eating too much crap in your life, it all adds up over time and becomes habitual.
Eat smaller, more frequent meals and avoid overeating at one sitting
Take time to eat, breathe slowly and chew food thoroughly. Are you still eating your dinner on your lap in front of the evening news? What a great way to digest your food. Try eating at the dinner table, relax and talk about things other than the gloom and doom the media like to digitally serve up to us at 6.00 o’clock.
Try a different diet approach
Beans, chick peas, lentils, fresh fruit and vegetables, avocado, fresh fish, walnuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds, dried fruits (not too much with adrenal fatigue – the dried fruit that is), If you’re not used to eating a lot of fiber slowly increase your intake as you may initially have increased flatulence, gas. Soaking beans first in water (and freezing them after soaking) and discarding the water you soaked them in, may help to reduce flatulence from this group. Try adding some yogurt in your diet, get a natural sour Greek yogurt.
Reduce your caffeine intake
Caffeine may promote constipation by causing you to loose fluids. You urinate more and pass more liquid, but dehydration can make bowel motions increasingly difficult depending on how much coffee or tea you consume. Try herbal teas like peppermint, fennel, fenugreek, chamomile or liquorice, they can all help with constipation and are caffeine free alternatives. Another good substitute is to drink
Reduce your red meat intake
Do we really need to eat that much meat? Many people I’ve seen in my clinic simply eat too much meat, especially red meat, pork and chicken. Too much animal protein is associated with constipation, and I urge those who eat plenty of meat daily (and who are reading this right now) to cut back on animal proteins, not just for the sake of constipation, but for your overall health. There are many studies that have linked a high animal protein diet to a whole host of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Was the Paleo diet plant based?
Eat more bran
Add unprocessed oat bran to hot cereals and yogurt. Eat bran cereals or shredded wheat, foods made with whole grains. Oat bran is a particularly good bran due to its ability to improve transit time, reduce cholesterol levels and even act as a prebiotic. Bran is good to add to the diet if there has been a long-term history of constipation. Bran is good to add to a diet also rich in foods that lubricate the intestines.
Foods that lubricate the intestines
Eat foods like beet, okra (gumbo), kiwi fruit, seaweed, spinach, sesame seed & oil, honey, pear, prune, peach, apple, apricot, walnut, pine nut, almond, alfalfa sprouts, carrot and cauliflower. So many nice foods to choose from! These are good choices for those who have difficulty eliminating their bowels. This can manifest like ineffectual urging or multiple bowel motions with only small eliminations each time.
Foods which promote bowel motions
Eat foods that help move stool through the intestines – cabbage, papaya, peas, sesame seeds, coconut, kumara, asparagus, figs, kiwi fruit, aloe vera, slippery elm bark powder. These foods are good stool bulkers than can help you clean out the bowel, they also promote the growth of the bifidobacterium, the large intestine predominant species. Probiotics are good for the bowel and help with constipation.
Herbs & foods that soothe the intestines
Eat foods like– marshmallow root, ground flax seeds, ground fenugreek seeds, ground psyllium seeds, licorice root, aloe vera pulp, slippery elm bark. These are good choices for those with painful haemorrhoids, fissures or fistulas. These are also good choices for women after childbirth or who have had an episiotomy.
Good bacteria enhancing foods
Eat foods like– miso, sauerkraut, yoghurt, kombucha mushroom, kefir and quark .
Decrease intake of saturated (animal) fats
Eat foods with an increased level of essential fatty acids (cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds). It is best to take Omega 3 daily in small amounts, 2000mg/day is generally sufficient.
Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains
Yeah, yeah – I know, this is basic stuff, but often taken for granted. Do you do basic stuff basically on a daily basis? I’ll bet you forget to eat fresh fruits and vegetables every single day, and BTW – did you know that a recent survey found that 17% of British people never eat fresh fruits or vegetables!! Incredible but true.
Drink more water
Do you drink water regularly throughout the day? Warm lemon water taken before meals stimulates digestion. Try the juice of ½ a lemon in water in the morning before breakfast. Remember to drink plenty of liquids. You need more fluid particularly when you have more fibre for fibre to work effectively. Drink less alcohol. Do you think when you drink?
Stewed or soaked prunes
Have from 1 to 3 a day, have a slightly laxative effect. Prune tea – 3 prunes in a 250ml cup, add boiling water, leave stand until warm, drink & eat the prunes. Have 1 cup per day.
Have 1 heaping tsp. in 8 oz. of apple juice, provides fibre and soothes the digestive tract. Follow with an additional 8 oz. of water. LSA mix is excellent too. Slippery elm bark powder is very good also.
Take a top quality probiotic supplement
Constipation is helped by probiotics. I always recommend the addition of a probiotic with meals twice daily with constipation, it can make all the difference.
Eat Greek natural yoghurt
Yogurt is beneficial not just for those who suffer from constipation but also for the general health of the gastrointestinal system. Years of experience as a naturopath have led me to the conclusion that yoghurt is one of the most beneficial cultured foods for the digestive tract. Read: Treating Constipation With Yoghurt
I have solved very tricky cases of constipation with recommending a course of colonics plus other complementary and alternative methods of healing. There is no question about the huge difference a professional colon therapist can bring to the patient by utilising colon hydrotherapy.
Liver and bowel detox
Go and see your practitioner, you will be glad you did. And, you’ll probably loose a fair amount of weight as well. Are you eating plenty of foods containing fibre, and drinking water but you STILL can’t go every day? Then go and do the Liver & Gallbladder Flush.
Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation/symptoms-causes/syc-20354253
Web MD: https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-constipation
Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4059-constipation
Web MD Understanding Constipation: https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/understanding-constipation-basics
Web MD Fiber: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/supplement-guide-fiber
Web MD Foods High In Prebiotics: https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-high-in-prebiotic#1
Web MD Chronic Constipation: https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/chronic-constipation-facts-vs-myths