It is believed that up to 80% of adults at least once in their life experience constipation. Some doctors believe that this figure is even higher, just not everyone understands their symptoms correctly. Complaints about irregular stools and problems with bowel movements are among the most common therapists and gastroenterologists in practice. But far from all people go with this delicate problem to the doctor, many prefer to endure or fight constipation on their own.
Constipation is serious!
Today we will discuss the treatment of constipation: a topic that makes many people embarrassed and blush. But jokes aside, the presence of a healthy digestive system is crucial for health and immunity, especially during the epidemic of a deadly virus. Constipation is not only unpleasant, but can also cause serious problems in the functioning of the immune system. You may ask why, how are stool problems and immunity related? It’s simple – up to 80% of immune cells are concentrated in the intestinal wall. They undergo here a kind of training in the fight against alien objects. Own intestinal microflora, which is formed from birth, trains immunity, teaches him the fight against viruses and microbes, foreign cells.
Constipation is a violation of bowel movement, stagnation of contents. And that means that it inevitably carries with it violations of microflora. As a result, dysbiosis develops – a condition where beneficial microbes die, and conditionally pathogenic ones raise their heads, actively thrive and disrupt the immune system. In a pandemic, this increases the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, as well as a more severe infection. And this is quite natural – the immune system should be distracted in order to suppress the pathogenic microflora in the intestine against the background of stagnation of contents. Therefore, constipation is not a harmless nuisance associated with overeating or lack of fluid, but a serious problem requiring treatment and urgent measures of help.
Constipation – a problem in the modern world
Modern life imposes its own conditions: we increasingly eat on the run, spend hours sitting motionless behind the screens of computers or smartphones, move a little and do not consume enough fluid. Therefore, more and more people are suffering from this problem.
But what is constipation – like a medical problem? The definition of constipation is interpreted very widely. In general, to date, constipation includes violations of bowel movements, if the stool is tight and does not move well, efforts are needed, and discomfort, abdominal cramps, and malaise occur. At the same time, even a daily stool can be considered constipation, if it is dense, similar to “smoked sausage” or “sheep’s balls”. If, against the background of such characteristics, defecation is delayed by 2-3 days or more, this exacerbates the problem.
How does this happen?
Constipation occurs when stool in the colon is dehydrated. Water is actively absorbed from the colon for the needs of the body. When there is too little water, the stool becomes dry, and it hardly moves through the colon.
Constipation usually occurs when we don’t drink enough fluids, don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, or consume too many processed (refined) foods, which are usually free from fiber.
How can this be fixed?
In most cases, constipation can be eliminated with the following simple recommendations:
1.Drink more fluids. Since constipation is associated with dehydration of the colon, you need to make sure that you are consuming enough fluids. When your body is sufficiently hydrated, less water will be absorbed from the colon. This will make your chair softer, making it easier to walk away. On average, for a full metabolism, an adult body needs about 2–2.5 liters of water per day, or 8–10 glasses of water (excluding water in food).
2. Get fiber by consuming fruits and vegetables. There are two types of fibers: soluble and insoluble. Both are important for maintaining normal bowel movement. Soluble fiber absorbs and binds toxins and cholesterol, so they can be excreted when you cleanse your intestines. Soluble fiber also keeps the stool soft as it absorbs water. Enough of this type of fiber contains citrus fruits, apples, pears, carrots and pumpkin.
Insoluble fiber (cellulose) increases the volume of the stool, and also acts as a “broom”, helping to “sweep” food debris from the intestines. It is found in the skin of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts. In total, it is important to consume about 30 grams of fiber per day, about a third of which should be in soluble fiber, this is about 200-300 g of vegetables or fruits.
3. Supplement your diet with vegetable oils and omega-3s. Oils and omega-3s can help lubricate your intestines so that food debris can easily pass through your colon. Fish oil is by far the best source of omega-3s, but linseed oil and hemp oil are just as useful. On average, you need to get up to 1500 mg of omega-3 acids per day.
4. Exercises. In the fight against constipation, they are key. These are exercises in which the frequency of breathing and heartbeat increases. For example, gymnastics, which you can do at home. Useful exercises with semicircular twists of the body, they tone the abdominal wall and enhance intestinal motility. While any type of movement will help normalize bowel motility, exercises that saturate tissues with oxygen are the best of all. They normalize bowel tone and aid digestion.
Prolonged constipation: what to do?
If constipation lasts more than 3 months, almost every bowel movement is a problem, stool delays last 3-5 days, and we can talk about long-term chronic forms. If the situation requires urgent measures (there was no stool for several days and there is pronounced discomfort in the intestine), it is necessary to choose the right laxative drugs. Most people come to the pharmacy, buy a box of laxatives recommended by the pharmacist, or one that is cheaper, with herbal ingredients (senna, buckthorn, castor oil).
But such a choice of drugs is not the right step, those drugs that irritate the intestine, causing it to empty due to increased wall contraction, can lead to extremely unpleasant sensations (cramping, pain, severe diarrhea). Plus, they can provoke side effects, up to intestinal atony, when it simply ceases to maintain the tone of the walls, and constipation only intensifies.