Top Five Reasons Constipation Is On The Rise In India.
Table Of Content
Constipation is not a disease. Consider it more like a warning sign. An indication that your body is trying to give about your gut health. It is noteworthy though that chronic constipation CAN become a leading cause to many chronic and autoimmune diseases.
In this article, let's look into the top reasons why this condition is so widely prevalent in our country.
By the end of reading this,
- You will be able to clearly recognize signs of constipation,
- Understand what Indian food habits are responsible for constipation,
- Understand lifestyle changes that can help relieve constipation
- Understand if diarrhea is actually a sign of constipation,
- How chronic constipation is a ticking time bomb for overall health.
Rise of constipation in India.
After cold and cough, constipation is one of the most common self-diagnosed problems for Indians.
A study done in India by a leading healthcare company in 2018, found that close to 25% of Indian adults have constipation.
This is a huge number, especially considering the fact that chronic constipation could lead to stomach ulcers, cancers, and a multitude of auto immune diseases. Most people do not even know that they should be going to the bathroom 1-2 times per day.
If you too struggle from constipation, make sure to read this article I wrote:
Signs that you are constipated.
While the symptoms of constipation does differ widely from person to person, these are the obvious, similar indications:
- Infrequent Bowel Movements:
Having no more than 2-3 bowel movements per week, is definitely a sign of constipation. Your digestive system is designed to help you naturally flush out toxins and waste material within 24 hours.
I have met clients who believe it is normal to go to the bathroom every other day, but infact, this is not true. Once they start working on our constipation management protocol, they quickly realize the difference a non- constipated body makes to overall mood and health.
- Straining while Passing Stool:
Many of us have to really try painfully hard to push it out. If the stool is devoid of water content, it becomes dry and hard, making it challenging to pass.
Straining can also lead to inflammation in the blood vessels around the anus, causing painful hemorrhoid's or even anal fissures. It should ideally not take you more than 10 minutes on the toilet seat. If you find yourself spending hours on the toilet seat, you could be constipated, even though you have a daily bowel movement.
- Abdominal Discomfort:
The longer you are constipated, you may begin to feel pain in the lower abdomen, bloating, cramping, and a persistent feeling of fullness, even though you haven’t eaten anything.
Constipation can also lead to acidity and nausea. Watch out for these signs if you think you are constipated. Once again, you could be going to the toilet everyday, but have an incomplete motion. This means you are still constipated.
- Hard or Small Stools:
Again, due to various factors, stool becomes lumpy and hard, breaking up into smaller pieces. You can refer to the Bristol Stool Form Scale (BSFS) or the Bristol Stool Chart, to verify for yourself. Ranging from 1, that’s hard, small, separate stools to 7, that’s a stool of liquid consistency.
- If your stool falls under types 1 & 2 on the BSFS, you’re constipated.
- Type 3,4,5 indicates the most typically healthy stools.
- 6&7 indicate diarrhea.
- Rectal Bleeding:
When you have strained too hard for your anal cavity to handle, the hard stools cause tears and can lead to bleeding to occur! This is a very concerning symptom. Shit just got very real.
These anal fissures can become infectious and lead to other problems. When unable to pass stools, it is generally suggested to avoid straining too much and work on the solution for constipation.
- A Feeling of Blockage:
That feeling that something is not right in your lower abdomen, when attempting to pass stool, is a common sign of constipation. You may continue to feel a persistent urge to head to the bathroom without results.
Sometimes, you might even have a bowel movement but feel like it is an incomplete toilet session.
- Changes in Bowel Habits:
We are all creatures of habit. Most of us have our bowel movements sub-consciously timed down to the minute. Any disruption to our natural call habits, such as a sudden drop in the number of times or getting harder and more difficult-to-pass stools, can be an indication of constipation.
Being mindful of these changes in your movements can help you put a stop to constipation early on.
Can you have Diarrhea and still be constipated?
Imagine the drain in your kitchen sink. If you don't clean and maintain it regularly, it can get clogged with food particles. However, even when clogged, water can still manage to find a way to pass through and drain away.
This is similar to what happens within the anal cavity when you experience prolonged bouts of constipation. Dry and hardened stools can block the rectal passage. As a result, liquid stools can bypass this blockage and cause movements that resemble Diarrhea.
This is known as Overflow Diarrhea, a symptom of severe constipation that requires lifestyle and medical intervention.
Chronic Constipation: A ticking time bomb.
Chronic constipation is a serious warning sign of an unhealthy digestive system. Pay heed to this warning signal before it can turn into more serious complications.
When poop remains in the colon for too long, it exposes the digestive system to toxins that can result in escalating health problems. That’s why I say that chronic constipation can be like a ticking time bomb!
Consistently having to strain hard, to pass stools, can lead to inflammation, and bleeding in the rectum. When hardened stool remains immobile in the rectum, it can cause fecal impaction, which is extremely uncomfortable.
In the worst of situations, chronic constipation can even result in cellular damage and the growth of mutant cancer cells.
Besides this, chronic inflammation in the gut can lead to various types of auto- immune diseases in the body. Even Rheumatoid Arthritis and certain Thyroid disorders are linked to bad gut health. Needless to say, your skin and hair health is impacted by how your gut feels.
Watch this to understand IBS, another cause for constipation:
Five reasons constipation is on the rise in India.
Being a Registered Nutritionist, I often see clients make simple nutritional or lifestyle blunders that can be fixed and help heal the gut. Simple nutritional habits can take you a long way. Let's take a look at five specific habits that keeps Indian's constipated.
- Low fibre consumption
Many people talk aloud about the importance of protein consumption for health and strength. But it is dietary fibre intake that plays the most important role in preventing constipation, losing weight, improving health markers and promoting regular bowel movements.
However, only 5% of us actually consume enough dietary fibre. Are you among the 5 %?
Contrary to what we believe, we do not get nearly enough fiber form eating raw fruits and vegetables. They are very high in volume, and no doubt good for health, but the real fiber rich foods are whole- grains and lentils/ pulses.
I insist my clients eat upto 50 grams of fiber a day. Now consider this, a big bowl of broccoli will only have 3- 4 grams of fiber but a katori of daal will have upto 10 grams of fiber! Maybe its time to reconsider your fiber sources.
One essential habit to develop is including 2-3 servings of whole- grains (not white rice, its not whole) and 2-3 servings of lentils and pulses per day.
Now if you have on- going chronic constipation, you must resolve that first before adding the additional fiber. Thus, working with an expert who understands constipation management is essential.
Your inability to digest lentils does not say lentils are bad, but, rather that your gut is weak. Pulses and lentils are the healthiest foods you can include to heal your gut.
- Excessive use of Medication & Antibiotics.
When they are important, they certainly are life- saving, but pharmacological medications and supplements can come at a heavy cost, especially pertaining to our gut health. Research shows that our body takes up to 6 months to recover from the microbiome damage that antibiotics can have on them.
If your constipation stems from childhood, chances are that you were exposed to various strains of antibiotics when young.
Prolonged use of antibiotics disrupts the delicate balance of gut microbiome ecosystem. The digestion & absorption of nutrients from the food we consume is thrown off its rhythm. Antibiotics like ciprofloxacin & amoxicillin commonly have constipation as a side effect. In fact, antibiotics are usually prescribed with an antacid for this very reason!
Pain relief medicines have a similar slowing-down effect on the digestive tract. These medications halt the rhythm of the very necessary muscle contractions in the intestines.
- Lack of fruit consumption.
We have villanised fruits so much for all the wrong reasons. My blog on diabetes management talks about how fruits can actually help with diabetes management.
Not consuming enough fruits an lead to constipation due to multiple reasons:
- Firstly, if you aren’t eating enough fruits, you aren’t getting sufficient intake of dietary fibre. As mentioned, this is a primary cause of constipation.
- Remember, fruits are amazing sources of both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre. Eating fruits keeps your stool soft and easy to pass through. Most fruits have a terrifically high water content, which keeps your stool from being dehydrated, making it smooth to pass during bowel movements.
- Apart from being fibre and hydration powerhouses, fruits also contain essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support your overall digestive health. These nutrients are essential for maintaining the health of your digestive tract and promoting regular bowel function
Some fruits, like apples and pears, contain natural sugars, such as sorbitol, that can act as mild laxatives. These sugars can help draw water into the intestines, making the stool softer and promoting bowel movements.
When you don't consume enough fruits, you miss out on these natural laxative properties that can help prevent constipation.
- Eating Processed Grains.
Now while whole- grains are very essential, processed grains can actully make your gut health worse.
Most of us eat an unhealthy proportion of processed grains, such as white rice and refined wheat flour (maida). These grains are essentially stripped of their natural fibre and nutrient content
Processed grains are digested by the body rapidly being low in fibre, they result in dry and hard stools.
They also disrupt the delicate balance of the gut microbiome, leading to a slowdown in the digestive issues process.
- Excessive Dairy Intake.
In 1995, a dietary intervention study was conducted on 27 infants with chronic constipation. The study revealed that eliminating cow dairy from their diet resulted in a complete regression of constipation symptoms in 21 infants.
A few years later, another study was conducted on 65 children, which showed similar results.
Dairy has been proven to have an inflammatory reaction on the body due to its high fat and low fibre content. Also, most people find it difficult to digest lactose, a form of sugar found in dairy. Watch this:
Three lifestyle changes to help with constipation.
I have another detailed blog on foods to help with constipation management. Here is the link for the same.
Here are also a few lifestyle changes that will help resolve constipation.
Drink More Water.
As I have previously mentioned, constipation is primarily caused by dehydration and hardness of the stools. But have you ever wondered how the stools become dry and hard in the first place? The answer lies in the fact that the body does not receive enough quality hydration, which is essential for smooth bowel movements.
It's important to consider not only the amount of water you drink, but also how much of it your body is effectively utilizing. One effective way to ensure proper hydration is by "eating your water". This means consuming water-rich foods that help your body retain hydration more effectively.
Think of your digestive system as long, winding highway along which food travels through, from the time it enters your stomach to when it leaves the body. Now, the rate at which food travels through your system and gets digested & absorbed effectively is known as gut motility.
When we are living sedentarily, the food’s journey through the system slows down like cars stuck in traffic. The longer it's stuck, the drier and harder it gets, making it that much tougher to push out of the system.
Remaining active regularly through whatever form of exercise you connect with helps to maintain gut motility, greatly reducing the chances of constipation.
Why do we find it so hard to curb sugar cravings?
Because it’s a destructive self-feeding cycle. The more we feed those cravings, the more they arise. Those cravings take birth straight from the gut. A worrying sign of the harmful bacteria and inflammation taking root in the delicate gut microbiome ecosystem
The only way out of this destructive cycle is to curb your sugar intake. Believe me, in less than a month of minimizing sugar intake, your gut makes a remarkable recovery.
The phytonutrients in the fruit attack the inflammatory bad bacteria in your gut and kill them. Not only this, the natural sweetness of the fruits will help you ease the cravings.
So, now that you are informed of the reasons behind constipation and what you can do about it, are you ready to make a change?
Book a complimentary consultation call with me today and lets get to work, upgrading your health and well-being!
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