Prevention and treatment of constipation – Part 3
Constipation has far-reaching consequences locally for the colon and other parts of the body. Most importantly, the colon is the highest single source of acid wastes in the body. These acids affect the colon locally and other organs as far-flung as the acid from the colon could affect the breasts. These acid wastes have been found by researchers to be the cause of cancer of the colon and of the breast. It is clear from such findings how important it is for constipation to be prevented. Fortunately, what has to be done to prevent constipation can also be employed as principles of treatment of same.
Before we begin to discuss the principles of management of constipation in some detail, it is important to note that cases of constipation that are secondary to an underlying disease will naturally be eradicated when such an underlying disease is successfully treated.
Principles of management of constipation
1. Water – always a good factor to start with
It cannot be fresh knowledge to us that water is necessary for all the processes that take place in the body. Water is involved in the movement and digestion food in the intestines. Indeed, the rate of movement and of digestion is dependent on the amount of water available. The more the water in the intestine, the faster the movement and digestion of the food. When the digested food/faeces get to the colon, the point at which we begin to consider constipation, a lot of things begin to happen.
Firstly, it is at this point that the quantity of water, either to be retained or eliminated as urine from the body is determined. This is usually determined by the state of hydration of the body. In a sufficiently hydrated body, less water is reabsorbed into the body and more water is passed out of the body with the stools. The consequence of this is that the stools are softer and the movement through the colon is faster. When, on the other hand, the body is dehydrated, more water gets reabsorbed into the body leaving the stools in the colon hard and rate of movement very slow. To prevent and treat constipation therefore, one must keep his body well hydrated always. To do this, you have to drink up to 8 glasses of water daily. In relation to your meals, it is required that you drink one or two glasses of water 2 hours before the meal.
2. Food: The rate of movement of digested food and stools through the intestines is also dependent on the type of food eaten. Some types of food contain what is known as fibre. These are long chain polysaccharides, which pass through the intestines undigested. One form of it is insoluble and operates in the intestines unchanged. Foods that contain fibre are mainly sourced from plants such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, bran, seeds and nuts. Non fibre-containing foods are usually from animal sources, which we should avoid. Also to be avoided are refined and processed food such as white flour and its products, white, polished rice etc.
Examples of high-fibre foods are:
Vegetables: cauliflower, broccoli, red cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, green leafy veggies such as spinach, Turnip green, collard greens and beets. Others are kidney beans, lima beans, white beans, broad beans and lentils.
Fruits: Orange, peaches, dried figs, apples, banana, pear, avocado and raisins. Berries such as blue berries, raspberries, strawberries, black berries and currants.
Whole grains and bran: whole wheat flower, whole wheat spaghetti, brown rice and whole oats. Bran from oats, wheat and rice.
Nuts/seeds: flaxseed, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, sesame seeds, cashew nuts, peanuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts and almonds.
This is certainly a wide variety to choose from in order to prevent and treat constipation.
Exercise: Aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, jogging and swimming have a way of shaking the body. The muscles and the organs get shaken when we exercise. The muscles become strengthened and for the purpose of our discuss, exercise helps the peristaltic muscles to function better. These are the muscles that move the stools forward as they contract.
Nature’s call: The urge to pass stools must never be ignored or overlooked. Delaying the urge to stool may actually increase the risk of one having constipation or cause an existing one to get worse.
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