Feeling bloated and hurt to pass poop? You’re not alone. I’ve had some trouble with constipation too. I can remember when I didn’t go to chop some logs for four days. The urge was there, but it would just go away after some time and then I would get bloated all day.
I just ignored it.
In the end, the pain I felt straining out my bowels, only God in heaven knows.
I know everyone has a story about their worst constipation moments. There is nothing to be embarrassed about, anyone can be constipated, men and women of all ages and children as well.
In fact, every person must at one point in their life been constipated a couple of times. Recent figures show that 65% of infants in Kenya experience paediatric intestinal obstruction by age 3.
So, what’s constipation like?
What are the signs and symptoms of constipation?
We’re different and everyone has different bathroom habits. You may not have bowel movements every day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re constipated. It might be okay for you if three days pass, while for another person skipping two days is something they would dread to think.
In general, constipation manifests in the following ways:
- Difficulty in passing stool sometimes accompanied by pain
- Reduced frequency of pooping. If you have been pooping once everyday then all of a sudden you skip some days before you poop again, then you are constipated. It is recommended that one has at least 3 bowel movements in a week
- Passing very dry stool that is lumpy and hard
- Having a feeling that you have not passed out the entire stool or that there is blockage on the rectum that makes it hard for the stool to come out
These signs are observed due to one or a combination of causes. Let’s take a moment to understand these factors!
What Actually Causes Constipation?
Constipation happens when too much water is drawn out of what is meant to be stool in your system, which makes the stool very hard and dry.
Common causes of constipation are pregnancy, low fiber diets, low water intake, delay in passing stool and some medications whose side effect is constipation.
Foods we eat that cause constipation
In most cases, constipation is just a mild problem that resolves itself once you adjust your diet. Other times though, constipation can be a sign of an underlying issue such as gastrointestinal conditions, but it is largely caused by our eating habits.
As for my case, a bowl of veggies saved the day.
In any case, to avoid constipation we need to keep off from:
- Processed and junk foods: one they are not healthy and two they most likely won’t contain the recommended amount of fiber needed by our bodies. They also contain too much salt which draws a lot of water from our bodies.
- Deep fried foods and fast foods: the high fat content will definitely lead you to constipate.
- Red meat is high in fat content and very low in fiber making it a top cause of constipation.
- Dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, cream and yoghurt are very high in fat content too and zero on fiber.
- Gluten-containing foods such as wheat, barley, rye and wheat germ. Some people may be constipated on these foods.
- Processed grains lack the bran and germ parts of the grain making them have less fiber. These foods include white bread, white pasta and white rice.
- Unripe bananas contains a lot of resistant starch, which is a harder compound for the body to digest and slows down the passage of food down the gut.
Proper Diet to Avoid Constipation
A proper diet is the best constipation prevention and treatment. Knowing what to eat and how much to eat is key.
A diet full of fiber helps in avoiding and treating constipation. The Ministry of Health Guidelines on Nutrition recommend that an adult should at least take 21 to 30 grams of fiber every day depending on the age and sex.
You can get good sources of fiber locally available such as:
1. Fruits and green leafy vegetables
These two should not miss from your daily meals. Good thing is that they are readily available. Fruits such as Avocado, berries, apples, pears, papaws and bananas have been known to almost instantly relieve constipation in adults and kids. Take caution with pawpaw though, some people actually get constipated on it.
2. Whole grains
Most whole grains contain soluble fiber which soften stool making it easy to pass through the gut. They also contain insoluble fiber which adds to the stool’s weight. Pack up on whole grains such as oatmeal, whole bread and bran flakes cereals.
These are a great source of fiber as well as protein. A meal with beans, black beans, lentils, green grams is guaranteed to keep you off constipation worries.
Nuts such as peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds, walnuts and pistachios are great sources of protein and a high amount of fiber which helps in constipation. You can eat them as nuts or incorporate in other foods.
5. Dried Fruits
Not only are they a great finger snack but they also contain fiber and natural sugars which have a laxative effect. If you feel constipated, go for a cup of prunes, dates apricots or even figs.
When to See A Doctor
If you have recurring constipation then you might be suffering from chronic constipation that may need your doctor’s attention. Chronic constipation may cause one to have hemorrhoids which are swollen veins in and around your anus. It may also cause anal fissure, stretched and protruding rectum, bleeding from the rectum, passing stool with blood stains or fecal impaction. Should you notice any of these symptoms, see a doctor.
It’s all about what you eat and what you incorporate into your diet for constipation. Eating a well balanced diet with meals high in fiber will guarantee you no constipation. Besides a proper diet ensure that you also drink plenty of water, adopt good toilet habits as well as engage yourself in physical activities. What has worked for you in relieving constipation? Share your experience with us.