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Constipation- Go easy on oily, spicy foods

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th February 2010 03:00 AM

MARY spent two weeks without passing stool and had to seek medical help. Her doctor told her she was constipated and started her on a special diet.

MARY spent two weeks without passing stool and had to seek medical help. Her doctor told her she was constipated and started her on a special diet.

By Anthony Olwoch

MARY spent two weeks without passing stool and had to seek medical help. Her doctor told her she was constipated and started her on a special diet.

Normally, after food has been digested in the stomach, the waste products are propelled through the intestine by muscle contraction. When the food gets to the large intestine (colon), most of the salt and water are re-absorbed to help with the body’s functions.

However, when the colon absorbs too much water or when the colon muscle contractions are slow, stool becomes dry and hard, resulting in a condition known as constipation.

Causes
Dr. Charles Mugonyi, a general practitioner at Kim’s Medical Centre in Kampala, says the slow movement of food through the large intestine and the amount of time the waste remains in the colon cause more water to be reabsorbed, consequently making the stool drier, bulky and harder to excrete.

“The causes of constipation include low intake of water, a diet low in fibre, problems with the colon and rectum and injuries to the spinal cord which affects the nerves that lead to the intestine, making it hard to initiate bowel movement,” says Mugonyi.

Dr. Robert Sidhe, a general practitioner at Alpha Medical Services in Kawuku, Wakiso, says diseases like cancer of the rectum and colon, worms and bacterial infection absorb water from the bulk of digested food in the colon, sparking off constipation.

Other causes include frequent use of laxatives, loss of body salt through vomiting or diarrhoea, ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement, changes in lifestyle or routine, hormonal disturbances and irritable bowel syndrome.

“When constipation persists, one may develop complications like accumulating a mass of hardened stool that cannot be eliminated by a normal bowel movement.

Other complications are rectal prolapse when a small amount of tissue pushes out through the anus, cracks or hemorrhoids in the anus when hard stool stretches the sphincter muscle and rectal fistula (a cut in the rectum through which stool passes),” Mugonyi says.

Sidhe says if untreated, constipation may also lead to cancer, intestinal obstruction, inflammation of the intestine, wounds in the colon and expansion of the abdomen.

Frequent use of laxatives can result in constipation because the bowels become dependent on them (laxatives) for proper functioning. Laxatives can also lead to poor absorption of vitamins and other nutrients.

Prevention
Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily. Water helps in moving waste matter through the colon.

Exercise regularly

Eat a high-fibre diet. Fibre promotes healthy digestion and helps to add bulk to stool, making it easier to pass through the bowel. Foods rich in fibre include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, sweet potatoes and bananas.

Avoid dehydrating liquids such as soda, coffee, tea and alcohol.

Avoid oily or spicy foods
Cleanse your colon with natural remedies such as colon sweep. Some products made with natural ingredients, including psyllium husks, can help to cleanse the colon of built-up waste resulting in constipation.

Avoid narcotics and antacids that contain aluminum and calcium, blood pressure and antidepressants.

Constipation- Go easy on oily, spicy foods

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