Defeating Disease - Constipation
Constipation is most common in children and the elderly, and affects women more than men. One in 200 women has severe, continuous constipation – most commonly before a period and in pregnancy.
Constipation is when you go to the loo less often or you strain when you do go – caused by stools being hard and small.
Straining can not only be painful but it can also cause bleeding or swollen veins in the anus known as haemorrhoids or piles. If you’re bleeding regularly or your constipation lasts more than two weeks, see your GP! It can also produce stomach ache and cramps, bloating, nausea, headaches, a furred tongue, tiredness and depression.
What is the role of diet in causing constipation?
A low fibre diet can cause constipation. While a vegetarian diet high in plant foods contains plenty of fibre, animal products contain none.
Which strategies are effective in helping to prevent and treat constipation?
Make sure that you’re getting at least 20-30g of fibre a day. High fibre foods – whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals and beans – will help soften your stools, making them easier to pass.
A medium-sized apple contains around 3.0 grams of fibre, a slice of wholemeal bread contains 1.5 grams and a small portion of broccoli about 2.7 grams.
Eating red meat frequently can increase your chances of colon cancer by 20-40 per cent! Carbohydrate-rich foods should be consumed in as unrefined form as possible; for example, brown rice, whole grain pastas and breads, whole beans etc are more health enhancing as they contain more fibre and vitamins.
Make sure you increase your fluid intake, too. You need to drink one to two litres of water each day. Getting more exercise, such as going for a daily walk or run, can also help relieve constipation. Click here for our tips on becoming more active.
New – Dr. McDougall’s Digestive Tune-Up explains how a low-fat, plant-based diet can prevent and cure constipation, haemorrhoids, IBS and other chronic intestinal disorders. Just £16.99, including p&p from the Viva! shop.