When The Bowels Don’t Move

Words: Usha Gajapati RAJU

Question: I suffer from constipation. I have tried several concoctions, but the problem persists. Please give me a brief outline of the problem and suggest some simple measures to help me get rid of the annoying problem.

M J, Mumbai 

Answer: Constipation occurs when you have trouble having bowel movement. In the condition, your stools may become hard and you may have difficulty passing them. It leads you to strain. You may also sometimes feel that you need to have another bowel movement to clear the residing matter, if any, from your body.

Not everybody has a bowel movement every day. There is no need to have a regular daily bowel movement for good health. The normal range could be 1-2 times a day, or 3-5 times a week.

Constipation may arise when you have far fewer bowel movements than you are usually accustomed to.

Healthy Bowel Plan

  • Do not ‘struggle,’ or force, yourself to have a bowel movement every day
  • Allocate a time for bowel movement. A good time may be after breakfast, or a meal
  • Eat more fibre: Take at least 3-4 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Start slowly, if you are not eating/adding enough fibre to your diet. This will prevent gas and acidity
  • Drink plenty of fluids — 8-10 glasses of water a day. You may also take sugar-free juices, soup, green tea, and non-cola beverages
  • Do not get into the habit of laxatives. This is not a healthy practice
  • Take Isabgol husk, or flaxseed in powder form: 1 tablespoon, in a glass of water — last thing before bed-time for a week, or two
  • Exercise and/or get involved in some kind of physical activity. Do yoga and meditation
  • Walk for at least 20-30 minutes, 4-5 times a week.

It’d be a good idea too for you to eat more unprocessed wheat bran and breakfast cereals, whole wheat and rye flour, brown bread and pumpernickel. Also, add adequate amounts of fresh fruits, dried fruits, such as figs, vegetables, and legumes, viz., chickpeas and baked beans to your daily eating plan.

USHA GAJAPATI RAJU, MSc, a specialist nutritionist and dietician, has over 27 years of clinical and corporate consulting experience. She holds a Bachelor’s in Home Science, a Master’s in Nutrition & Dietetics, and an MBA [Marketing]. Apart from being a Certified Diabetes Educator, Raju has a World Health Organisation [WHO] Membership in Diabetes Prevention and Management Programme. A Member of enteral nutrition with the Indian Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition [IAPEN] and an ardent believer in sustainable lifestyle and home-based solid waste management practices, kitchen gardening and organic farming, Raju’s efforts have earned her the ‘Best Achiever in Solid Waste Management’ National Award, Mumbai, 2018, and ‘Agent of Change’ from Prajapitha Brahma Kumaris [International Women’s Day 2020]. She lives in Visakhapatnam, India.

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