Constipation Remedies That Work

Constipation is a common problem for many people living around the globe.  Although constipation is common, it is certainly not normal and it can be more than just annoying or uncomfortable. The delayed bowel transit time means your body's waste products stay in your intestines longer and your body reabsorbs some of these toxins into your blood stream. This may cause health problems such as headaches. Over time, constipation & straining can lead to other problems like hemorrhoids or anal tearing.

The Food We Ate
 
Our food consumption is the main reason for constipation. If you do not eat enough fiber, the digested food will not form the soft gel like texture. It will not pass through smoothly and will take more transit time.
 
When you didn't eat enough insoluble fiber, you will not have enough bulk. This will prevent proper intestinal muscle action as intestinal wall won't register the content.
 
Drinking Water 

There are many reason to drink more water.  If your body is not hydrated enough, you will lose water from the stool faster and this will lead to constipation. One of the common reasons for the constipation is excessive water loss or lack of enough water.
 
Muscle Movement

Improper muscle movement is also another possible reason for the lack of bulk in the stool. Remember the bulk in the stool sensitizes the intestinal wall and triggers the muscle movement. The improper muscle movement can happen because of several factors. One of the factors is neurological.

Addressing Constipation
 
To summarize, constipation can be addressed in a few different ways. We can address the texture of the stool. We can address the water loss issue. And we can address the intestinal muscle movements.
 
Stool Texture

The texture of the stool can be addressed in a few different ways. Consuming properly balanced diet, which consists sufficient amount of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, will help lubricate texture of the stool. If somehow you can make the surface texture of the stool oily and lubricating, it helps as well.

Try to increase your daily fiber intake. It's best to do this by eating more vegetables and salads with meals, but taking a fiber supplement may also help. Be sure to increase your fiber consumption slowly, as sudden increases can make constipation worse.

Water Intake

Make sure you are well hydrated. Many adults should drink at least 1-2 Liters of water a day. Drink a pure, quality water, and only drink in between meals, not with meals. Warm water first thing in the morning can help trigger a bowel movement.
 
If the stool can absorb more oil or water or both, that would make it softer, more lubricated and easy to travel. This is exactly what some of the stool softeners like docusate do. They belong to a group of chemicals known as surfactants, which help water and oil mix and penetrate deep below the surface.

Mineral Oil

Similarly mineral oil, increases the oil content of the stool and makes it slippery and easy to slide through the colon. Mineral oil also acts as a barrier and prevents stool from losing water to the colon wall. If you had to take mineral oil frequent enough, you would worry about some of the vitamins and minerals dissolving in the mineral oil and not getting absorbed.

Hydrating Agents
 
Next comes a set of substances that address the water retention issue directly. These are hydrating agents. They cause the intestine to hold water and not complete absorption through the intestinal wall. As intestine retains more water, the stool doesn't lose water and becomes soft.
 
Examples of hydrating agents are saline, glycerine, polyethylene glycol, sorbitol and lactulose.
 
Yet another way to hydrate and soften the stool is with a chloride channel activator. These agents stimulate the colon to release fluid containing chloride. This is similar to what happens when we get diarrhea, but in a controlled way. The fluid activation helps prevent the water loss and helps support the softness of the stool.
 
One can trigger intestinal muscle movement in several different ways. You may be surprised to know that the most common way to trigger intestine to start moving is through stimulants and irritants.
 
What we refer to as laxative are mainly stimulants and irritants. They irritate the intestinal wall and the muscles respond by contracting actions. This helps propel the stool forward.

Using Laxatives
 
Laxatives are addiction forming. If used regularly the stimulation tolerance of intestinal wall keeps increasing and one has to take higher and higher doses of the laxative to make it work. With frequent stimulation the intestinal walls may become habituated with the stimulation and may not move effectively without stimulation.
 
Stimulants also change the fluid and electrolyte balance in the colon. This has long-term side effects as, the effective environment of the colon is altered for a prolonged period. One has to be careful with laxative overuse.
 
Another way to trigger the intestinal muscular movement is at the nervous system level. Ultimately all muscle movement is governed by the nervous system. Drugs can work directly on the nervous system to trigger the muscular movements. These types of drugs are not used anymore because of the adverse effects on cardiovascular health.
 
Physical Activities

A simpler and much healthier way to achieve the intestinal muscular movement is through physical activity and exercise. Brisk walking seems to be the best way to stimulate intestinal muscular action.

Move throughout the day. Physical activity helps trigger bowel movements, so at a bare minimum, stretch in the mornings, and try to walk 30 minutes each day.
 
Surgery

In rare cases the doctors may recommend doing surgery to address chronic constipation. Sometimes parts of the colon become inert and have to be removed. In other cases the lower part of the colon turns inside out and has to be surgically fixed. This phenomenon is known as rectal prolapse.
 
Vitamins and Minerals

Micronutrient deficiency can also cause constipation. Imbalance or deficiency of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals could prevent normal digestive function of the colon. You should make sure you are not deficient in vitamins or minerals. Your physician can help you assess whether you have such deficiency.
 
When constipation is induced by medication, pregnancy or other disease, it would resolve once the medication has been stopped, the baby is delivered or the responsible disease condition has been addressed.
 
Pretty much all constipation medicine or remedies have potential side effects. You have to be aware of the side effects before using the medicines.
 
No matter what, one has to seek help of a medical professional before taking any action for addressing the constipation.  Also, get to know and learn the different types of vitamins and their function.

Notes:

Mineral oil refers to the lubricant laxative which can effectively coat the stool with film which is waterproof. This phenomenon helps to keep the stool very watery. Quite interestingly, the excess fluid in the stool would help it to slide easily through the intestine. Basically mineral oil for constipation can prove to be a very effective remedy and at the same time safe too. However, it is recommended that one should not take laxatives if one suffers from bloating, cramping, vomiting, abdominal pain and soreness.

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