Why am I constipated and how do I treat it?
Your digestive system is responsible for processing food and utilizing food as nutrition and energy. It is composed of three different major organs: the stomach, small intestine and large intestine.
Constipation is considered to be a malfunction of the colon, also known as the large intestine. Constipation is generally described as having fewer than five bowel movements a week.
Signs and symptoms of constipation include:
- Passing fewer than five stools a week
- Having lumpy or hard stools
- Straining to have bowel movements
- Pain while having a bowel movement
- Blood on the surface of hard stool
- Abdominal swelling
- Feeling as though there’s a blockage in your rectum/colon area that prevents bowel movements
- Sudden pain localized in various areas of your lower abdomen area
- Needing help to empty your rectum such as using your hands to press on your abdomen
Constipation may be considered chronic if you’ve experienced two or more of these symptoms lasting two months or more.
Constipation commonly occurs when waste or stool moves through the digestive tract too slowly or cannot be eliminated effectively from the colon and rectum. This subsequently causes the stool to become hard and dry. Causes of constipation include:
- Poor diet
- Food allergies
- Lack of exercise
- Gut microbiome imbalance
- Lack of digestive enzymes
- Lack of probiotics
- Medication side effects
- Eating disorders
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Cystic fibrosis
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Liver disease
- Chronic stress
- Hormone imbalance
Treatment for constipation usually begins with diet and lifestyle changes meant to increase the speed at which stool moves through the digestive tract. Minor problems can quickly turn into major problems if left untreated. Some diet and lifestyle changes include:
- Eliminate the 12 unhealthy foods from your diet
- Increase vegetable consumption to approximately 30 to 40 grams per day
- Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water
- Increase the consumption of digestive enzymes
- Increase the consumption of probiotics
- Eat fermented foods such as cheese, kefir, sauerkraut, etc.
- Increase the consumption of Omega 3 fatty acid
- Review current medications with your physician
- Don’t hold in or postpone a bowel movement; go as soon as you need to go
- Reduce stress
- Reduce alcohol consumption; alcohol reduces the levels of good bacteria in the gut
While there are many different ways that you can help keep your digestive system healthy, it is important to know when to reach out to a medical professional if your symptoms become too much to handle. Chronic gut symptoms could be a sign of more-serious health condition such as acid reflux, ulcerative colitis, gallstones, parasitic infection, or Crohn’s disease.
To optimize your digestive system today, call us at (225)478-9665.