The human digestive system truly is a thing of wonder. It allows us to eat food and drink, take all the needed nutrients from it, and then expel the waste of which our body has no longer a use for.
It seems like a pretty well-oiled machine, that is of course until something stops working.
Constipation is an unpleasant condition, in which the individual experience’s difficulty in evacuating the bowels. This is characterized by infrequent bowl movements, trouble making bowl movements, small and hard stool and/or a swollen feeling in the abdomen.
While the feelings and symptoms surrounding constipation are generally shared by everyone, the potential causes for it vary and some of them might just surprise you.
Wait, what? Isn’t fibre supposed to be public enemy number one when it comes to constipation? Well, the answer is a yes and no.
An increase in your intake of fibre can certainly help move things along when it comes to your digestive system, however, a common misconception is that an increase in fibre alone is enough to experience its relieving side-effects. Water is the other side to the equation, with an increase in its consumption, which should be proportionate with the increase in fibre. If you don’t, then waste will spend too much time in your digestive tract and will feel like a rock when you try to pass it.
Before you get upset that I just ruined some of your favorite foods, you first need to hear me out. Dairy can cause constipation due to its high-fat/low fibre content; with fat being a major cause for the slowdown of digestion.
If you are experiencing constipation and are consuming a diet relatively high in dairy, then you might want to consider cutting back, or incorporating other, high-fibre foods as well. Just don’t forget the water.
Ok, so you gave me fibre, but laxatives? Aren’t the designed specifically for constipation? Well yes, but when is anything so cut and dry?
Laxatives work by stimulating bowel activity. However, as the saying goes, ‘to much of a good thing,’ the nerve endings that release the chemicals necessary for optimal bowel movements can become depleted if you take too many laxatives, and thus, they can have the opposite of the desired effect.
When it comes to pooping, your sphincter and the muscles on the pelvic floor are the tag team that gets stuff done when the time is right. However, if these two aren’t functioning properly, mainly relaxing and contracting at inopportune times, then the colon will literally hold your waste hostage. If this is the case, it is best to see a physician or health-care professional as soon as possible.