Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Probiotics for constipation

Question : My sister, 20, has had difficulty moving her bowels since childhood. She usually does so once a week. The excreta is large and hard, resulting in pain. She takes fruit and vegetables daily.

Answer : Constipation is characterised by difficulty in passing stool or an absence of the urge to eliminate. In general, if the bowel movement is less than three times in a week or the bowel movement is regular but the stool is hard or difficult to pass, it is defined as constipation.

Symptoms include bloating, loss of appetite, mild nausea, indigestion, headache, coated tongue, tiredness and bad breath. Chronic constipation can affect one's health as waste remains in the intestines for excessive periods, causing toxins to be absorbed by the body.

Constipation is the common ailment that happens in all age groups. The underlying causes include lack of dietary fibre, high intake of refined carbohydrate, inadequate fluid intake, sedentary lifestyle and the unnecessary usage of laxatives.

Your sister may supplement her diet with probiotics which are friendly bacteria that play a role in preventing the growth of undesirable microorganisms, including candida yeast and bacteria that cause diseases by maintaining healthy intestinal flora necessary for the proper digestion and assimilation of food.

Increase intake of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit which are rich in fibre. Dark green leafy vegetables, papaya, prunes, wheat bran, oat bran and psyllium husks are all the effective natu- ral sources that enhance bowel movement.

Limit the intake of refined and processed foods which have been stripped of their fibre content. Foods high in sugar and fats tend to stay in the body for a longer period of time and slow down the bowel transit rate.

Drink at least eight glasses of water daily. Two glasses of water are recommended after each serving of fibre. This helps to soften the stool and make the stool bulky and easy to move through the gastrointestinal tract.


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