Almost everyone, from newborn to elderly suffers from constipation and/or bloating at some point or the other. These conditions may develop due to a diet low in fiber, lack of enough exercise, avoid the urge to have a bowel movement, GI diseases, neurological or metabolic disorders, etc. It is ideal for a healthy person to experience one to two bowel movements per day or five to seven bowel movements per week. However, three bowel movements a day or three per week is also considered normal. Lack of bowel movement for 2-3 days or for a week is termed as constipation.
Frequent constipation, gas, and bloating are all signs of impaired digestive health. Regular removal of waste is vital to a healthy body. Obstruction in the removal of waste may lead to several bowel problems, as a result of dysbiosis - an imbalance between beneficial and harmful organisms in the intestinal system. Due to constipation, the number of harmful bacteria increase, which may overpopulate the digestive tract. The body reacts by bloating up and developing a sense of fullness in the abdominal region. Sometimes, abdominal pain may also noticed. You can reestablish the balance of beneficial bacteria through probiotics supplementation and active-culture yogurt products, which improve the condition of intestinal tract and help reduce the symptoms of constipation and gas.
- If foods like beans, lentils, raffinose, broccoli, onions, cabbage, chickpeas, potatoes, corn, milk and dairy products etc. are present in excessive quantity in your diet, they can cause intestinal gas, upset stomach, and constipation.
- Some medications like sorbitol, diuretics, antacids, or iron supplements are known to aggravate intestinal gas problems, leading to bloating of the abdomen and difficulty in emptying of the bowel.
- We swallow a small amount of air while eating or drinking, but eating rapidly, gulping liquids through straw, and smoking may lead to larger intake of air, resulting in accumulation of more gas in the stomach.
- Nutrition deficiency and lack of fiber rich food (vegetables and fruits) in diet may also cause difficulty in clearing the bowels. Insufficient consumption of liquids and water may lead to hardened stool, gas, abdominal bloating, and pain.
- An individual affected by structural abnormalities in the rectum, anus, or intestinal tract may experience digestion problems.
- The increased levels of progesterone in women during pregnancy may affect the process of digestion. Lack of physical activity is also a common reason of dry and hard stools, irregular bowel movements, and gas.
- Constipation in newborns is usually caused due to sudden changes in their diet and insufficient fluid in the body. Therefore, solid food should be gradually introduced to toddlers.
- Celiac disease, food poisoning, overeating, carbonated drinks, and lactose intolerance may also cause bloating.
- Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement, allergies, change in regular diet, and routine may also lead to constipation.
Severe constipation and bloating can lead to serious health complications, such as hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, or anal fissures. Straining to have a bowel movement and passing of hard stool results in these conditions.
These days, digestive system problems are quite common. However, a few easy lifestyle changes can help relieve these problems.
- Never ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. Also, regularize your bowel movement by going at the same time everyday. The best time to have a bowel movement is 15-45 minutes after breakfast, as it stimulates the colon.
- You should consult your doctor as early as possible, if you notice a significant or prolonged change in your bowel habits.
- Exercising regularly and drinking plenty of fluids, especially water, help get rid of constipation, bloating, gas, etc.
- Increase your intake of fiber-rich foods. Consume all types of fresh vegetables, fruits, bran, beans, and whole grains. Freshly ground flax seeds also help a lot.
- Moderate use of laxatives under the supervision of a doctor helps relieve the discomfort of gas and dry, hardened stools. But, overuse of laxatives can create more health complications.
- Castor oil, honey, sesame seeds, apple cider vinegar, plums, olive oil, asafetida, etc. work great to relieve constipation and bloating. Consumption of magnesium citrate tablets also provide instant relief.
Constipation and bloating is a symptom some people do not even recognize at first. They recognize it when serious consequences like blood in the stool, bloating that does not go away when constipation is not present, severe pain in the abdomen, fever, or vomiting are noticed. Opting for a thorough colon cleanse is beneficial for proper functioning of the digestive system. Exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, healthy and stress-free lifestyle, etc., help maintain correct weight and can also help get relief from the digestive system problems.