Occasional lower digestive upset and constipation can happen to anyone, and while the causes of the conditions can differ, they are usually a symptom of an additional underlying complication. Constipation is typically the result of too little water ingested or insufficient fiber in the diet. Still, more severe issues can also impact movement in the lower digestive region, so chronic cases should be evaluated by a medical professional. Lifestyle changes may provide relief for those suffering from occasional symptoms.
Check Out the Diet
Excessive levels of fat, along with low fiber content, make some types of foods problematic for the body to digest, slowing things down. Consuming deep-fried and heavily processed foods can complicate constipation and worsen things. When food spends too much time in the intestine, it becomes dry and difficult to pass. Increasing the amount of fiber in the diet draws more water into the intestine, allowing foods to pass through faster and alleviating constipation.
Berries make a wonderfully sweet addition to nearly any diet. As a bonus, berries contain loads of beneficial antioxidants and fiber to add bulk to stool, making it easier to pass. Peanuts, walnuts, and Brazil nuts are all excellent ways to get more fiber and some healthy fats. Brazil nuts are also exceptionally high in magnesium, a nutrient used to soften stools and improve elimination.
Cardiovascular exercise and activity are beneficial for the body and relieve occasional constipation. The heart and lungs work harder when the body is in motion, moving blood through the system faster. Swimming, cycling, and even walking are great ways to stimulate the heart and get things moving. Research shows that as little as 30 minutes of daily activity most days can positively impact constipation symptoms and improve regularity.
The practice of yoga helps individuals learn to manage stress in the body, including the pressure ordinarily found in the digestive system. The twisting poses used by yoga practitioners effectively massage the digestive system to keep things moving smoothly. Some people suffering from occasional constipation have found yoga to be a beneficial way to help reduce symptoms using this two-pronged approach.
Keeping the body hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of non-caffeinated beverages like water and certain juices is an effective way to treat constipation symptoms. Insufficient water levels in the lower intestine often result in slow, inefficient elimination as the intestines pull moisture from stool deposits as they age inside the lower bowel. However, the relationship between caffeine and constipation is a bit more complex.
As a stimulant, caffeine in coffee and other caffeinated beverages can invigorate the gastrointestinal system, accelerating contractions and increasing transport activity. But for some people, especially those with caffeine sensitivity, this impact can increase dehydration, worsening constipation symptoms in the long term. Water is necessary to complete many bodily functions, and a dehydrated system is desperate to pull moisture from wherever it’s available.
Additionally, caffeine is a diuretic, promoting increased urine production, further upsetting the body’s water balance and increasing the odds of dehydration. Removing additional water from the lower GI tract often causes hard, dry, and painful bowel movements. For those who enjoy caffeinated beverages but have concerns about constipation, drinking a large glass of water with the libation may help alleviate unpleasant side effects.