How to stay regular..
In this series of short articles I am going to pass on (no pun intended) a few thoughts about how to avoid constipation and keep your bowel moving. I am not going to focus necessarily on factors like foods to eat and foods to avoid, but more on the physical factors. So, in no particular order I’ll start with…
Don’t ignore the urge
When you feel the urge to pass a bowel motion this is your lower gut telling you it is full and needs emptying. The bowel motion presses and puts pressure on the valve at bottom of the gut and this signals the spinal cord and brain that it wants out.
A process called peristalsis slowly pushes your food down the gut in a wave of rhythmical contractions, gently squeezing the gut. It also mixes the food with the acid in the stomach, or the digestive enzymes in the gut, so it is a very important process. Have a look at this animation to see it in action.
Now the thing about peristalsis is that it stops for no person. If you get the urge but ignore it the peristalsis will continue to push, cause the bowel motion to start to compact. The longer you leave it, the more the bowel motion will compact. This is made worse if you are, or continue to sit as this further compacts the lower bowel. To add to this, the colon is very good at reabsorbing water, so (assuming you are even a tiny bit dehydrated) the longer the bowel motion sits in the gut, the more water is reabsorbed and the drier the bowel motion will get. A compacted dried out bowel motion = constipation. Don’t ignore the urge and you’ve taken a steps to help prevent and avoid constipation.