What causes constipation?
The 3 most common causes are lack of fiber, lack of water, and a lack of the right kinds of bacteria in the colon and digestive tract. There are other reasons but correcting any inbalance in these 3 is all the treatment for constipation that many need.
Other causes of a lack of regularity include:
Click through here for a more detailed look at probiotics for constipation and acidophilus and constipation but any good probiotic supplement such as Align will help get the right type of bacteria into your intestinal tract.
The fermented drink Yakult which you can buy at your grocery store is also good.
A sluggish bowel is common in modern society and in the over 65 age group, 26% of men and 34% of women are constipated. This figures rises to a horrifying 80% in nursing homes1.
Food moves from the stomach through the colon to the anus where it is expelled as waste. This liquid slurry of food is pushed along by muscle contractions called peristalsis. The water content is reabsorbed by the colon so that by the time waste reaches the anus a stool has been formed.
Constipation happens when the colon absorbs too much water or if the colon's muscle contractions are slow or sluggish. Stools that are moving too slowly become hard and dry resulting in constipation.
Despite it seeming obvious that more fiber will help, studies indicate that there is little improvement until 30 grams of fibre a day is reached.3 That is a LOT of fiber. Drink 8 glass of water over and above your regular drinks. One study about IBS with constipation indicated that fiber and water both need to increase - that if one is lacking then increasing the other does not help3.
Lactic acid bacteria in general have proved effective in helping with constipation by normalizing intestinal function2.
REFERENCES for What Causes Constipation
1. Hyang Mi An, Eun Hye Baek, Seok Jang, Do Kyung Lee, Mi Jin Kim, Jung Rae Kim, Kang Oh Lee, Jong Gi Park, and Nam Joo Ha. Efficacy of Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) supplement in management of constipation among nursing home residents. Nutr J. 2010; 9: 5. Published online 2010 February 5. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-5.
2. Lee H, Kim YH, Kim JH, Chang DK, Kim JY, Son HJ, Rhee PL, Kim JJ, Rhee JC. A Feasibility Study of Probiotics Pretreatment as a Bowel Preparation for Colonoscopy in Constipated Patients. Dig Dis Sci. 2009 Oct 15. [Epub ahead of print]
3. Pierre Pare, MD FRCPC FACG, Ronald Bridges, MD FRCPC, Malcolm C Champion, MB FRCP(UK) FRCPC, Subhas C Ganguli, MD FRCPC MSc, James R Gray, MD FRCPC, E Jan Irvine, MD FRCPC MSc, Victor Plourde, MD CSPQ MSc PhD, Pierre Poitras, MD FRCPC, Geoffrey K Turnbull, MD FRCPC, Paul Moayyedi, BSc MB ChB PhD MPH FRCP(London) FRCPC, Nigel Flook, MD CCFP FCFP, and Stephen M Collins, MC MBBS FRCP(UK) FRCPC. Recommendations on chronic constipation (including constipation associated with irritable bowel syndrome) treatment. Can J Gastroenterol. 2007 April; 21(Suppl B): 3B-22B.
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