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Avoid constipation
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 Micro-nutrient testing
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Constipation is a common uncomfortable complaint where the stool gets hard and compacted in the rectum. Constipation is common and everyone has experienced it from time to time. Chronic or regular constipation is usually caused by a poor diet, lack of exercise or a  general disruption of your daily routine.  Other causes include:

  • Bowel Cancer (especially associated with blood, pain and weight loss)

  • Anti-sickness medication such as ondansetron and granisetron

  • Opiate pain-killers such as codeine, tramadol, and morphine.

  • Mineral imbalance particularly calcium excess

  • Under active thyroid (hypothyroidism)

  •  Other medication such as iron tablets 

  • Diet - not eating enough fibre, fruit, grains and vegetables

  • Diet - some foods constipate e.g. nutmeg

  • Bowel muscle weakness; recent abdominal surgery; haemorrhoids; or an anal fissure which can also make it painful to open your bowels.

We are all familiar with the common symptoms of constipation discomfort, bloating and abdominal cramps but a recent survey also reports how constipation can affect lifestyle in other ways:  

  • Fatigue, apprehension, irritability and being argumentative with a partner;

  • Feeling less attractive, impacting on their social lives;

  • Canceling or leaving a social engagement early;

  • Affecting sex lives either because they felt unattractive or are in pain;

  • Reporting embarrassment due to the associated flatulence.


What can you do to help? 

Despite the frequency of this complaint, it is often only addressed when it becomes a significant problem. Prevention is always better if possible. Think of situations when constipation may occur. For example, whilst traveling, on holiday, starting medication such as pain killers or after some chemotherapy regimens. In these cases, it is better to change your diet before the stools harden. Eating some ground linseeds, dried prunes or figs the night before,  could help.  Exercise and activity are very important. A brief walk or cycle ride around the park outside, in the evening after the chemotherapy, is also a good tactic. This may seem unusual, but will help keep your bowels moving and also help reduce nausea. At other times regular exercise, particularly jogging, walking, cycling and dancing all have a positive effect on the bowels.


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Summary tips to help avoid constipation:

  • Eat plenty of fibre (bran, prunes, raisins, cereals, leafy vegetables)

  • Eat a tablespoon of ground linseeds every day

  • Eat plenty of fruit and berries

  • Make your own superfoods (see lifestyle and cancer chapter 10)

  • Drink plenty, but not excessive, quantities of water

  • Have a regular routine in the morning shortly after breakfast

  • Try not to ignore the call to open your bowels. If you need to go go!

  • Take your time and try to stay until you have a good result

  • Exercise regularly it reduces the time a motion takes to pass through

  • Activity softens the stool and makes it easier to pass

  • Avoid constipating medications if possible (codeine, opiates)

  • Take a note of which activities constipate you

  • Take a note of which foods work for you and keep in stock

  • Prevention is better anticipate constipation and change diet first

  • If starting medications, increase fibre before constipation starts

  • Only take a gentle laxative if dietary measures have failed

  • If necessary, use ointments or suppositories to relieve a painful anus

  • If constipation persists consider nutritional testing as you may have an underlying micronutrient imbalance



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