If you’ve had fewer than three bowel movements in a week, or your poo is hard and lumpy, you’re most likely constipated. So, why is this happening and how can you fix it?
The most likely cause for your constipation is that you are eating low-fibre, high fat foods. Dairy products, eggs, rich desserts and sugary foods tend to stop up your bowels. So, if you do consume these foods, make sure you balance them with high-fibre foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
The importance of incorporating high-fibre foods into your diet can’t be stressed enough. Why? Fibre can’t be broken down by your body, so it creates ‘bulk’ that absorbs water and keeps you regular.
Quite often, certain medicines can cause constipation. Drugs for treating muscle spasms, seizures, pain, kidney problems and high-blood pressure can clog you up. The way around this is to increase your high-fibre foods and if that doesn’t work, speak to your GP and ask if there’s an alternative medicine that’s a bit kinder to your bowels.
Other causes for constipation are anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, thyroid problems and ageing. Again, a high-fibre diet is your best course of action for curing constipation, but there are also other methods available to you.
For example, age-related constipation is often more to do with you slowing down, so staying active can help you stay regular. Just 30 minutes of exercise each day – be it a brisk walk, time on a treadmill, light weight work or a bike ride – will benefit your bowels and your body.
Also, it’s best to heed the call of the colon when it comes. Don’t hold on to your poo – get to a loo!
And make sure you drink plenty of water and stay away from sugary drinks. Remember too, that you get water from fruit and vegetables. If you feel as if you’re not getting enough water from your food, try eating soup a few times a week.
If your diet fails to get things moving, you may need to try oral laxatives or suppositories. There are plenty of store-bought laxatives available, or you could try a natural remedy such as psyllium husks.
Enemas are also a last resort, but one that can help reset your bowel. Both laxative and enema treatments should not be considered without first consulting your GP, because reliance on these methods can damage your intestines or make your body ‘forget’ how it’s supposed to work.
If you’re still having trouble moving your bowels after a few days, it’s probably best to speak to your doctor, especially if you have serious stomach pain.
Read more at WebMD