National Nutrition Week is observed from September 1 to September 7 every year. The week is a reminder for people for understanding the importance of good nutrition and how eating right can help you be fit, strong and healthy. Poor digestion is one of the many consequences of not eating right. On National Nutrition Week 2020, we are going to talk about how you can heal constipation – which is a consequence of poor digestive – through food. Nutritionist Nmami Agarwal takes to Instagram to elaborate on why people get constipated and the foods that can help in getting relief from constipation.
National Nutrition Week 2020: How to heal constipation with the help of food
People who get constipation often rely on laxatives or medication for regular bowel movement. However, some very simple steps like including sufficient fibre in diet and drinking enough water every day can help in keeping constipation away.
“22% of adults in India suffer from constipation,” Agarwal mentions in her IGTV.
Speaking of symptoms of constipation, the Delhi-based nutritionist goes on to add that constipation can be different in every individual. While some people might not have a regular bowel movement (or once in a day), others may pass hard and painful stools.
National Nutrition Week: Common causes of constipation
1. Controlling the urge to go the toilet
Controlling the urge to go the toilet can be one of the causes of constipation. “When you eat food, it travels down the mouth, in the stomach. The body breaks down food into liquid in the stomach. This liquid then enters the small intestine, where most of the nutrients and water are absorbed,” she explains in the video.
Unabsorbed and unused food in liquid form then travels to large intestine, which is also known as colon. Stool then reaches the rectum, at the bottom of which is the anal sphincter. When stool puts pressure on anal sphincter muscles, it sends a signal to the brain, which is when one decides whether or not to go to the washroom.
“If the person decides to immediately go the washroom, the sphincter relaxes and stool comes out. The problem occurs when one decides to hold it in and go later. This makes the stool stay in rectum for longer period of time. It continues to absorb water and makes stool harder. The more food you digest, the more stool will be formed in the rectum. At this stage, if one decides to go to the washroom, the stools are larger in size and harder in form. It makes bowel movement painful and this is what is known as constipation,” says Agarwal.
Also read: Home Remedies For Constipation: Know How To Use Dried Figs (Anjeer) For Better Digestion
2. Lack of fibre in the diet
As mentioned above, lack of fibre in diet can be a cause of constipation. Include sufficient fruits and vegetables in your diet. Also eat whole grains and leafy green vegetables. All of these are a good source of fibre and can help in keeping constipation away.
Not drinking water sufficiently can make you constipated. Make sure you are sufficiently hydrated. Eat hydrating foods like strawberries, cucumber, lettuce, milk, etc. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water every day. This can vary depending on your level of physical activity throughout the day.
4. Not exercising, stress and anxiety
Exercising regularly can be an effective way to prevent constipation. Physical activity ensures that your food is digested properly and regularises bowel movement. Constipation can also occur as a side effect of medication or because of stress and anxiety.
National Nutrition Week: Tips to reduce constipation
1. Put your feet at an elevated level when you are trying to have a bowel movement. By doing this, you straighten the area that joins colon and rectum, which in turn allows easy passage of stools.
2. Drink sufficient water and eat fibrous foods. This enables the stools to be softer and easier for passage.
3. Go for a walk or do exercise at home. Physical activity reduces the time it takes for food to pass through large intestine. “It will enable you to empty your bowel more frequently,” says Agarwal.
4. Add a tsp of ghee to one cup of milk and drink it at bedtime. According to the nutritionist, it is an effective way to get rid of constipation.
5. Add one tsp of flaxseeds in one cup of water and boil it. Drink one cup of it at bed time for some relief.