Constipation and all things stool
Feeling all tied up?
Constipation is one of the most common medical complaints in Australia.
What is constipation?
Constipation is having difficulty passing a bowel motion and your incidence is less than 3 stools per week. However if we are consuming food daily, passing a stool motion daily is ideal. Constipation is also associated straining, haemorrhoids, dry stools and pain.
Constipation can be caused by a wide range of issues: a phobia of public toilets, certain medications, a diet lacking in fibre, dehydration, obesity, pelvic floor dysfunction, IBS and other medical conditions.
What should my stool like like?
Your stool should look like a soft, well formed sausage. It should be mid to dark brown in colour with no cracks, undigested food nor should it be small hard pellets.
If you are wanting to compare your stools, a Bristol Stool chart is a great way of becoming familiar with your stool shape. Ideally we aim for stools to look like type 4.
What do I do if I suffer from constipation?
If you are suffering from constipation, please see a health practitioner.
In addition, some things that you can try at home are the following:
- Ensuring a minimum of 5 serves of vegetables a day and also 2 serves of fruit. When increasing fibre, remember to increase your water consumption to avoid further constipation.
- Eating whole grains instead of refined grains (white bread, flour, rice and pasta)
- Ensuring you are drinking the correct amount of water, if unsure multiply your body weight (kg) by 0.03.
- Increasing your exercise. Not only does exercise get your blood moving, it also gets your digestive system moving. Ensure 30-45 minutes of exercise daily to support good digestive health and promote bowel movements.
What are the problems with using laxatives?
Laxatives are beneficial for dealing with the problem immediately, however they are not addressing the cause. Why are you getting constipated in the first place?
Long term laxative use also encourages your bowel and digestive tract to not have to work - if your body does not have to do the work it will not leading to more laxative use.
Laxatives can also cause nutritional deficiencies if they are pushing your food through you digestive system too quickly, not allowing enough time for nutrient absorption.
Please be in touch if you are struggling with bowel motions and feel you need a little support.