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What is Constipation?
Constipation is a condition in which a person finds it difficult to empty their bowels. It is a digestive disorder in which they experience pain, abdominal discomfort, bloating and difficulty passing stools. This condition is generally described as having less than 3 bowel movements a week. Occasional constipation is very common and doesn’t cause much harm.
However, in chronic constipation, people might strain themselves to empty their bowels, have lumpy or hard stools. Sometimes, people feel that they can’t empty their rectum or they have to press hands on their abdomen. If you experience any of these symptoms, then the constipation can be considered as chronic.
There are multiple factors responsible for contributing to constipation. They include
1. Inadequate fiber and fluid intake: Low-fiber diet and dehydration can lead to dry and hardened stools, making them difficult to pass stools. Hence, it is important to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and water in your diet.
2. Emotional Factors: Stress, anxiety, and other emotional factors can influence bowel function. The gut-brain connection can contribute to constipation in individuals experiencing emotional distress.
3. Ignoring the urge to defecate: Delaying the urge to have a bowel movement can lead to the reabsorption of water from the stool, making it harder and more challenging to pass.
4. Lack of physical activity: Sedentary lifestyle can slow down the natural movement of the intestines. When you exercise regularly, it boosts your intestinal contractions leading to healthy bowel movements.
5. Changes in Routine or Lifestyle: Traveling, changes in daily routine, stress, and certain life events can disrupt regular bowel movements and contribute to constipation.
6. Aging: As people age, the muscles in the digestive tract may weaken, leading to slower bowel movements and an increased risk of constipation.
It is important to note that if constipation persists for an extended period, and is accompanied by severe pain, bleeding , weight loss, or other concerning symptoms, it is advisable to consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Foods to Avoid When Constipated:
People’s bowels react to foods differently. There are some foods that help in relieving constipation. While dietary changes play a significant role in managing and preventing constipation, certain foods can contribute to its onset or worsening state. Here are top 10 most constipating foods that you must avoid to promote healthy bowel movements.
1) Dairy Products:
Constipation can be caused by dairy products, especially full-fat options like cheese and ice cream. This is because of their potential for lactose intolerance and their low fiber content. Plant-based or lactose-free alternatives are other options.
2) Processed Foods:
Fast food, frozen meals, and packaged snacks are examples of processed foods that frequently lack fiber and contain a lot of unhealthy fats and preservatives. Owing to these factors, constipation can become worse and digestion can be slowed. Therefore, avoid such foods and try to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet which are natural food sources.
3) Fried Food:
Deep-fried snacks, fried meats, and heavily buttered dishes are examples of fried and greasy foods that can slow digestion and cause constipation. These foods frequently contain a lot of bad, hard to digest fats. To aid digestion, choose low-oil cooking methods like baking, grilling, steaming, or sauteing.
4) Red Meat:
Red meat is a good source of protein, but it can be hard to digest and may cause constipation if consumed in large quantities. The high fat and low fiber content of red meat can slow down the bowel movements. Instead of red meat, you should include lean protein sources like fish, poultry, and plant-based proteins in your meals instead of red meat.
5) Alcohol and Caffeine:
The body can become dehydrated from drinking alcoholic beverages and caffeine-rich beverages like coffee and some types of tea. Hardened stools and difficulty passing them can result from dehydration. Limit your intake of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages if you are prone to constipation, and drink plenty of water and herbal teas to stay hydrated.
6) Carbonated Beverages:
Carbonated beverages like soda and sparkling water can cause gas and bloating, which can make the symptoms of constipation worse. Additionally, a lot of carbonated beverages
contain artificial sweeteners or added sugars, both of which have the potential to upset the balance of the bacteria in the gut and affect how well the digestive system works. Stay hydrated by drinking still water, herbal teas, or juices that have been freshly squeezed.
7) Harmful Fats:
Constipation can become worse by eating foods high in unhealthy fats, such as fried foods, fatty meats, and high-fat dairy products. Instead, choose healty food sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, which can advance customary defecations when consumed with some restraint.
8) Refined Grains:
During processing, the fiber-rich content of refined grains like white bread, white rice, and pasta made from refined flour have been removed. As a result, they don’t get enough fiber from their food to have regular bowel movements. Whole grains like whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, and oats are high in fiber and good for your digestion.
9) Unripe Bananas:
While the fiber in ripe bananas can alleviate constipation, unripe bananas can be challenging to digest due to their high starch content. They might make things worse or make constipation worse. Eat completely ready ones with earthy colored spots, as they are simpler to process and have a higher fiber content.
Chips, cakes, and other processed snacks typically lack fiber and are packed with unhealthy fats and refined sugars. Constipation can become worse and digestion slowed by these factors. Choose healthier alternatives like homemade snacks made with whole grains, fresh vegetables, and nuts.
Modifying one’s diet is an important part of managing and avoiding constipation. You can support healthy digestion and alleviate constipation symptoms by avoiding or limiting your intake of processed foods, dairy products, red meat, refined grains, fried and greasy foods, unripe bananas, caffeine, alcohol, processed snacks and sweets, unhealthy fats, and carbonated beverages. Keep in mind to consume plenty of whole foods, plenty of water, and a well-balanced diet that is high in fiber to encourage regular bowel movements and overall digestive health.