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Ways to alleviate constipation

Question : My daughter, 20, has had difficulties with bowel movements since she was a child. She only does it once a week. The faeces are large, hard and smelly, resulting in pain. She takes fruits and vegetable daily but unfortunately it is not effective.

Answer : Constipation is characterised by difficulty in passing stools or an absence of the urge to eliminate. In general, if the bowel movement is less than three times a week or the bowel movement is regular but the stool is hard or difficult to pass, it is defined as constipation.

Symptoms that accompany constipation include bloating, loss of appetite, mild nausea, indigestion, headaches, coated tongue, tiredness and bad breath. Chronic constipation can affect health as the waste remains in intestines for excessive periods, causing toxins to form and be absorbed in the body.

Causes of constipation include lack of fibre in the diet, high intake of refined carbohydrates, inadequate fluid intake, sedentary lifestyle and the unnecessary use of laxatives.

Your daughter may supplement her diet with probiotics, the friendly bacteria that help prevent the growth of undesirable microorganisms, including candida yeast and bacteria that cause diseases by maintaining a healthy intestinal flora necessary for the proper digestion and assimilation of food. Increase intake of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, which are rich in fibre. Dark green leafy vegetables, papaya, prunes, wheat bran, oat bran and psyllium husks are all the effective natural sources that enhance bowel movement.

Limit the intake of refined and processed foods that are high in sugar and fats. These tend to stay in the body for a longer time and slow down the bowel transit rate. Drink at least eight glasses of water daily. Two glasses of water are recommended after each serving of fibre. This helps to soften the stools and make them bulky and easy to move through the gastrointestinal tract.

     
     

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