Constipation can be caused by many factors and each individual experience symptoms of constipation differently. Poor diet and lack of exercise are usually the main causes. In most cases, constipation is temporary and not serious.
Common causes of constipation
- Not enough fiber in diet.
- Not enough liquids.
- Lack of exercise.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Changes in life or routine such as pregnancy, older age, and travel.
- Abuse of laxatives.
- Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement.
- Specific diseases such as multiple sclerosis and lupus.
- Problems with intestinal function (Chronic idiopathic constipation.)
Constipation self-care actions the following are some steps you can take to improve your digestion and help relieve constipation:
- Digestion begins in the mouth, so be sure to chew your food well before swallowing. This will trigger acid in your stomach and enzymes that aid in digestion. This action will also put less stress on the rest of your digestive system.
- Eat foods high in B-vitamins. They play a role as digestive enzyme cofactors. Foods to concentrate on include sunflower seeds, whole wheat flour, rolled oats, green peas, soybeans, lima beans, crabmeat, brown rice, asparagus, raisins, wheat germ, chicken, hazelnuts, peanuts, hickory nuts, spinach, kale, peas, salmon, prunes, lentils, tuna, turkey, rabbit, white beans, mackerel, bananas, walnuts, sweet potatoes, cooked cabbage, sardines, trout, herring, sea vegetables (kombu, dulse, kelp, wakame) fermented soy products (tempeh, natto, miso), turnips,cantaloupe, buckwheat, lobster, broccoli, cauliflower.
- Eat foods high in magnesium to aid digestion. Magnesium can be found in figs, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, whole grain breads and cereal, brown rice, wheat germ and soy flour.
- Zinc enhances healing. Some foods rich in zinc are pumpkin seeds, whole grains, oysters, herring, liver, eggs, nuts, and wheat germ.
- Eat more biotin-rich foods, including nutritional yeast, liver, eggs, mushrooms, lima beans, yogurt, and a variety of nuts, fish and grains.
- Increase your supply of molybdenum by eating more beans, cereal grains, legumes, peas and dark green leafy vegetables.
- Other foods to focus on that are rich in manganese, copper, iron or selenium are almonds, avocados, barley, beans, dandelion greens, lentils, sea vegetables, kelp, kidney beans, egg yoks, whole grain breads and cereals, seafood, whole grain breads and cereals, brewer's yeast, asparagus, garlic, and mushrooms.
- Don't drink fluids when you're eating, especially cold ones. They can suppress stomach acid.
- A large percentage of people over 50 make too little stomach acid and so they aren't able to thoroughly digest their food. Taking antacids, Tagamet and Zantac, can alleviate symptoms for a while, but they can aggravate the underlying problem, which is usually too little stomach acid. Long-term use of these drugs can compromise digestion and decrease the uptake of needed vitamins and minerals. Because you have indigestion and discomfort after you eat, you may think it's because of to much stomach acid and so you pop an antacid. Doing this further suppresses your stomach ability to generate hydrochloric acid (HCL) and can aggravate the problem if your problem is that you have too little HCL!
- How can you tell if you have too little HCL? Take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice when you have heartburn. If the heartburn goes away, you need more acid, not less. If your symptoms worsen, take enzyme products or supplements that contain HCL. You can find them at any health food store.
- The next time you have flu-like symptoms, fatigue, sore throat, constipation or diarrhea, try rubbing these points. Massage with firm pressure, for no longer 10-20 seconds, the inside and outside of your thighs, angling across the top of the left arm, right beneath the bony ridge that runs across the back of the head on the right side, and outside of the right calf about a third of the way down from the knee. Massaging longer than 20 seconds is not beneficial and could negate the effect. If you have been "backed up," detoxify your body by taking chlorophyll tablets or liquid, eliminating spicy foods for a week or ten days, and totally eliminating alcohol, cocoa, chocolate and caffeine products.
- Drink at least l0 glasses of water every day. You could be dehyrated. Water is used by many digestive processes, and for them to work correctly, you must supply water daily.
- Drink 2-3 ounces of aloe vera juice (do not use an aloe plant; buy the juice from a health food store) after each meal.
- Avoid aluminum-containing antacids. They cause constipation, intestinal blockage and dangerously high levels of aluminum.
- Try psyllium (a teaspoon in a full glass of water before breakfast and drink it down before it gels).
- Exercise every day, even if you only take a walk. Gradually build up to walking 20 minutes a day at a brisk clip. Your digestive system will be massaged and it will work better.
- Take Acidophilus (for better absorption) or plain yogurt with active cultures may also help. It builds up "good" bacteria which help digest stagnating food and increase the movement of the intestine in a day or two.
This information is for informational purpose only and is not intended to replace the care or advice of a physician.