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A diet to treat constipation

Last updated on: October 12, 2012 19:42 IST

A diet to treat constipation

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Courtesy HealthCareMagic.com

Almost everyone gets constipated at some point in life. Though not serious, the condition can be a concern.

Constipation may be caused by many factors; the most common cause for constipation is a diet low in fibre and high in fat.

Foods that cause constipation

Constipation is mainly caused by opioid peptides in wheat -- and dairy products and beta-carbolines in prepared food (proteinous prepared food in particular).

  • Prepared proteinous foods (fried, canned, processed foods, and baked foods) -- red meat, pizza, mashed potatoes or frozen dinners.
  • Dairy products -- Milk, cheese, yoghurts
  • Wheat products (refined) -- pasta, pastries, bread, cookies
  • Supplementary iron and calcium

Image: Dairy products -- milk, cheese, yoghurts -- are known to cause constipation
Photographs: Sammis Ochoa/Wikimedia Commons
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What you should be consuming

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A fibre-rich diet

People who eat plenty of high-fibre foods are less likely to become constipated.

Soluble fibre dissolves easily in water and takes on a soft, gel-like texture in the intestines. Insoluble fibre passes through the intestines almost unchanged.

The bulk and soft texture of fibre help prevent hard, dry stools that is difficult to pass.

Fruits and vegetables rich in fibre:

  • Robust banana, guava, apple, goose berry, papaya
  • Water containing fruits/veg like water melon, pomegranate, grapes, orange, and cucumber
  • Green leafy vegetables (spinach, pudina, cabbage, methi) , beans, turnip, lady fingers, sprouts, carrot and others
  • Fibre rich legumes include kidney beans (rajma), black beans, all pulses and dried coconuts
  • Cereals include oats, maize, barley, jowar, bajra, whole wheat and rice.

Image: People who eat plenty of high-fibre foods like bananas are less likely to become constipated
Photographs: Justus Blumer from Deutschland/Wikimedia Commons
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Increase fluid intake

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  • You should drink eight to10 glasses of water everyday.
  • Fluids can be in any form -- plain water, fruit or vegetables juice, and soups.
  • Without the extra fluid, the extra fibre that is eaten is likely to aggravate the problem of constipation instead of solving it.

  • Image: Consume plenty of fluids, like fruit juice
    Photographs: Wikimedia Commons
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    Does a sedentary lifestyle cause constipation?

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    • Yes, a sedentary lifestyle causes constipation by slowing down the bowel movements. So some light exercise is essential everyday.
    • Exercise is advised to improve bowel movements and tone up the abdominal muscles (eg: leg raising exercises), necessary for defecation.
    • Another method to mobilise the bowels is to go to toilet at the same time everyday.

    Image: Exercise is advised to improve bowel movements
    Photographs: FitnessFreakLA/Wikimedia Commons
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