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Constipation: Tips to stay 'regular'
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June 18, 2008
With today's increasingly hectic lifestyles, not only do our minds take a beating thanks to stress levels and the constant need to be better than the rest, but our bodies suffer too with irregular eating habits, unhealthy diets of snacks and fast-food and crazy work hours.

Indigestion and acidity are common symptoms of these unhealthy eating habits. However, another symptom, that is rarely talked about is constipation.

This condition can vary from irregular stools (which should not necessarily be a cause for worry) to difficulty passing stools (which can be uncomfortable and even painful at times).

According to health portal, a vast majority of adults have bowel movements between three to 21 times a week. This range is considered normal. While it is not necessary to have a bowel movement every day, anything less than thrice a week should be medically addressed.

Constipation can be acute or chronic depending on the symptoms. Acute constipation could be a sign of a more serious underlying problem, which might require immediate medical attention particularly is accompanied by bleeding and abdominal cramps, while chronic constipation might be remedied with simple measures that help relieve the discomfort.

The reason for constipation most commonly is the slowing of digestion. This could be due to low levels of activity or exercise which impact digestion and how regularly you visit the loo. Another factor is dietary habits -- irregular meal times and low-fibre diets with artificial flavourings -- can wreak havoc on your digestion.

Controlling or delaying bowel movements also impacts your system. While it is often not possible to visit the loo the moment you feel the urge to, delaying relief for long durations or on a frequent basis can cause the onset on constipation.

There could be a variety of more serious medical causes which will need the attention of the doctor. However, before you jump to the conclusion that you might have colon cancer or some other such dreaded condition, pay attention to the symptoms and try some home remedies to relieve them, such as:

Hike the fibre
A diet that is high in fibre is an easy way to maintain a 'regular schedule'. Fibre moves through the system quicker and helps stools move faster through the colon. Foods like muesli and oat bran for breakfast, whole grain breads, fruits, vegetables and legumes all constitute high-fibre foods and could be quite enough to keep constipation at bay.

Quit the coffee

According to, while the diuretic effect of coffee often causes cramps and has a laxative effect on many people, for those suffering from constipation, coffee and even tea tends to reduce the amount of water in the colon thus worsening the problem. Cutting down on your cups of coffee or tea might help reduce the problem; you might even want to swap them with fruit juices or just water.

Don't delay As far as you can help it, do not delay your bowel movements. Visit the loo as soon as you feel the urge to or with the least delay, this will help reduce the hardening of the stool inside your colon and thus prevent constipation.

Don't overdo the laxatives

While herbal or allopathic laxatives might do the trick, make sure you do not rush to the medicine cabinet every time you feel uncomfortable. While these work in the short run, in the long run, you might just get your system used to laxatives and only end up aggravating the problem. Consult your doctor before you resort to laxatives and for a continuing condition, ask your doctor for the best remedy.

Start exercising/yoga

Regular exercise is often the best and easiest way to make sure your mind and body are revitalised. An active lifestyle ensures that your body gets the exercise it requires while improving appetite and digestion. While medical studies on the impact of exercise on bowel movements are limited, nonetheless, exercise inarguably is beneficial to the body, so get off that sofa and on to the treadmill.

Yoga also promises remedies to keep you 'regular'. So take up a yoga class in your free time to help improve your body's functioning.

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