Constipation is an issue that has become very prevalent in recent times. This is primarily due to the sedentary life that we lead and the processed/refined foods that we eat . Missing or not excreting our wastes in the morning can result in physical and mental discomfort like irritiability, bloating, low energy levels, and if continued onto long term can cause acne, hairloss, bad breath, impaired immunity, nutrient deficiencies and more.
Using laxatives that are available over the counter is not a solution as it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem. Moreover, using laxatives over a long term can lead to colonic infections, electrolyte imbalance and mineral deficiencies.
Let’s look at some of the root causes of constipation and their remedies.
Overeating , eating when not hungry , eating mindlessly when bored or stressed, not drinking enough water, eating late at night, consuming heavy ,refined ,fried and processed foods like chips, juices, bread, popcorn, donuts, cakes, meat and other items made with refined flour etc can lead to constipation.
- Eat only when hungry.
- Drink 2 glasses of warm to hot water as soon as you wake up. Using coffee , stimulants or tea for this will not only create addiction and dependence, but also nutritional deficiencies.
- Eat light, warm and moderately spiced freshly cooked foods.
- Eat a light dinner before 7pm and avoid cheese, refined foods, sweets, paneer, meat and fried food for dinner.
- Consume foods that naturally has fibre and are unprocessed like raisins, prunes, dates, fresh fruits, cooked vegetables and not refined and packaged foods with added fibre – biscuits, cookies, breads, juices etc.
- Include good fats like coconut/ ghee/ sesame with every meal.
- Avoid cold and raw foods likes salads and green smoothies.
- Drink warm water often , enough to make sure your urine is clear- mild yellow.
When we get stressed, more blood is pumped to our limbs than our digestive system as part of the flight or fight mechanism. Hence digestion, absorption, assimilation and excretion will not be optimal and partially digested food starts building up in the digestive system. Stress can also reduce your insulin sensitivity and metabolism.
- Do not focus on food to divert your stress.
- Deep breathing exercises and some yoga poses like viparita karani, Vajrasana etc will help improve the blood flow the intestines.
- Focus on destressing activities that will also make you physically active to help you relax.
Poor quality or insufficient sleep due to night outs, sleeping late etc also affects excretion. Sleep is the biggest detox program that we get on a daily basis and if that is compromised, the toxins and wastes stay in our system i.e excretion doesn’t happen. Read more about how to improve your sleep quality.
- Have a relaxing evening routine to help you go to bed early.
- Fix a regular bed time , closer to 10pm and stick to it.
We need to move well to move wastes out of our system. It is not just about working out everyday for 30 minutes, but also about moving often through the day. This will improve our blood circulation, metabolism and digestion.
- Workout for atleast 30-45 minutes everyday or 5 days a week. Include strength training, cardio and yoga .
- Move around for 3 minutes once every 30 minutes.
Certain medications like antibiotics, pain killers, iron supplements etc are known to cause constipation. Antibiotics should be used as a last resort as using it often can give rise to antibiotic resistant bacteria and also destroy a good part of our gut bacteria , which can take 6-12 months to get replenished.
- Focus on getting nutrients and nourishment from whole food sources and not isolated supplements.
- Consume buttermilk everyday for a few weeks following the consumption of antibiotics.
Resolving constipation like any other health problem becomes easy once we know the root cause and its triggers. Treating health issues with over-the-counter medications doesn’t solve the issue and could complicate it with unwanted side effects.