There are many people of different ages suffering from chronic or occasional constipation, and this affects their physical, mental, and social health status. Constipation Relief is possible and here’s what you should know.
What is constipation?
Constipation is characterized by lumpy or hard stools, decreased stool frequency, feelings of incomplete evacuation, etc.1 The stool consistency and stool frequency are important symptoms in the diagnosis of constipation.1,2 The overall prevalence of constipation is reported to range from 7% to 10% in adults.3 The prevalence of constipation is different between men and women,4 which is 6% higher in women than that of men.5 Furthermore, the incidence of constipation varies by age, with a rate of 33% in people over 60 years of age6 and tend to rise in people with lower socio-economic status.7
How does fiber help our intestines?
The different types of fiber act directly in the human intestine, boosting its functioning. This promotes the preservation of a healthy intestine.
By eating foods of vegetal origin, such as fruits, vegetables, cereals, and legumes, large amounts of dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble, are incorporated. According to studies, this has effects on the GI tract, both in the stomach and the large intestine.
Causes of Constipation
According to Healthline, your colon’s main job is to absorb water from residual food as it’s passing through your digestive system. It then creates stool (waste).
The colon’s muscles eventually propel the waste out through the rectum to be eliminated. If stool remains in the colon too long, it can become hard and difficult to pass.
Poor diet frequently causes constipation. Dietary fiber and adequate water intake are necessary to help keep stools soft.
Fiber-rich foods are generally made from plants. Fiber comes in soluble and insoluble forms. The soluble fiber can dissolve in water and creates a soft, gel-like material as it passes through the digestive system.
Insoluble fiber retains most of its structure as it goes through the digestive system. Both forms of fiber join with stool, increasing its weight and size while also softening it. This makes it easier to pass through the rectum.
Stress, changes in routine, and conditions that slow muscle contractions of the colon or delay your urge to go may also lead to constipation.
Common causes of constipation include:
- a low-fiber diet, particularly diets high in meat, milk, or cheese
- lack of exercise
- delaying the impulse to have a bowel movement
- travel or other changes in routine
- certain medications, such as high calcium antacids and pain medications
How does fiber help prevent constipation?
When these foods rich in fiber get to the GI tract, they cause diverse effects that help boost the bowel movement time of people suffering from constipation. What happens first is a delay in the emptying of the stomach, leading to a feeling of fullness, which helps control a balanced diet and body weight.
Then, when reaching the large intestine, these rich in fiber masses cause fermentation by the bacteria and an increase in the retained fecal matter volume. This increases the intestine’s propulsive movements, boosting intestinal peristalsis, which leads to bowel movement. It is worth noting that, for this to happen, the key is to always accompany the intake of dietary fiber with sufficient water.
So, is fiber essential to relieve constipation?
Yes, both soluble and insoluble fiber intake is one of the pillars to improve constipation.
Still, the following pillars must also take place:
- Adequate intake of water
- Regular physical exercise (boosts blood flow to the intestine)
- Training of the voluntary evacuation reflex
- Following of the natural evacuation reflex