Constipation the most common digestive complaint, that makes one feel bloated, irritated and make life miserable. Generally, constipation is defined as infrequent or fewer than three bowel movements per week. Less than one bowel movement per week is considered severe constipation.
Poor bowel habits, lack of fiber intake, high intake of meat and processed products, no physical activity, insufficient water intake are main reasons for constipation. Constipation could also results due to bowel obstructions, rectal cancer, hormonal disorders.
The symptoms are lower abdominal discomfort, straining and rectal bleeding, hemorrhoids, physiological distress and obsession with having bowel movements.
Foods high in fiber helps prevent constipation. Fruits, vegetables, spinach and other greens, beans, lentils, peas, whole grains, nuts, prunes and seeds are good sources of fiber.
Most whole food contains soluble and insoluble fibers. Both types of fiber help promote regular bowel movements.
Soluble fiber absorbs more water, making the waste softer, larger and easier to pass through the intestines. Oats, nuts, beans, soft parts of fruits, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots are good sources of soluble fiber
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, adds bulk to the waste material that hastens its passage through the gut and prevents from hard feeling. Peels of fruits, like apple, berries, grapes, pears, whole grains are good sources of insoluble fibers
Tips for increasing fiber intake:
- Consume whole fruits instead of fruit juices
- Replace half of white rice with brown
- Enjoy whole meal sandwich.
- Snack on raw vegetables like cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrot sticks, plain popcorns, vegetable soups.
- Substitute beans for meat three times per week
- Balance each meal with cereals, meat/beans, nuts, fruits & vegetables.
- Stay active and do regular exercise.
- Drink enough water. Drinking water is the most important factor in relieving constipation