TIPS TO RELIEVE CONSTIPATION
In France, almost 1 in 5 people suffer from chronic constipation. While being constipated is usually harmless and not symptomatic of an underlying disease, it can be debilitating on a daily basis. It is difficult to lead a serene life when you’re suffering from bloating, intestinal disorders or cramps. You can take laxatives to treat constipation and stimulate passing stool. However, if you experience severe pain or notice blood in your stool, you should contact your doctor immediately.
Types of laxatives for constipation
• Osmotic laxatives: As their name suggests, these products for constipation act through “osmosis”, which means that they stimulate the intestines to absorb water and retain it within the stool, thereby loosening it and making it bulkier. However, the drawback is that they can create a dependency and cause fluid and electrolyte disorders (imbalance of the ratio between the minerals and water contained in the body), such as hypokalaemia (low levels of potassium in the blood).
• Stimulant laxatives: Also called irritant laxatives, they trigger the muscles of the intestines to contract by acting directly on the intestinal mucosa. They have the same side effects as osmotic laxatives, but to a greater extent and more serious in the long term, such as melanosis coli (pigmentation disorder of the colon wall) or irritable bowel syndrome.
• Stool softener laxatives: These include mineral oils, mainly liquid paraffin. They help evacuate stool by making it easier to pass. However, by dissolving liposoluble nutrients, they limit their absorption and can therefore lead to deficiencies in certain vitamins (A, D, E, K) in case of long-term use. As such, they should be advised against in cases of dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing) due to the risk of aspiration pneumonia (i.e. inhaling a liquid or an object into the lungs).
• Plant-based laxatives:
Bulk-forming laxatives: These are insoluble, hydrophilic fibres such as mucilages, which swell up upon contact with water. They make stools bulkier all the while softening them by absorbing water. Their taste is not particularly pleasant and, given the amount of water that must be consumed while taking them, they can lead to abdominal discomfort.
Prebiotics: These are soluble fibres that are easily fermented by gut flora, which feeds on them to develop. They do not cause irritation, reduced absorption of nutrients, dependency or addiction. There are few side effects reported, none of which are serious. Possible side effects include bloating, which disappears with time and bowel function returns to normal. To avoid such side effects, we advise starting treatment gradually and adjusting it depending on your tolerance. Prebiotic laxatives are the most physiological and the most effective in relieving intestinal constipation.
• Probiotic food supplements: These bacteria are naturally present in the intestine and beneficial to our health. A concentrated intake of probiotics in the form of dietary supplements strengthens gut flora by increasing the number of intestinal bacteria within. They need time to settle in and grow, however. This means that they have an effect in the long term and do not offer immediate relief from constipation.
OptiFibre® is a prebiotic in the form of a 100% plant-based tasteless and odourless powder that contains highly fermentable soluble fibre. It is the guar gum, partially hydrolysed to facilitate its consumption, that helps enrich food in soluble fibre to ensure a physiological and natural digestive action, namely a laxative effect followed by the development of gut flora bacteria and a return to normal bowel movements. Another advantage of OptiFibre® is that it can be adapted to suit your needs; it can be used in the short or long terms and does not lead to addiction. Moreover, it is both lactose- and gluten-free.
A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE TO PREVENT CONSTIPATION: WELL-BEING, FOOD, PHYSICAL EXERCISE
Functional constipation (without an underlying disease) affects many men and women in France. If you are one of such people, you can restore your digestive well-being through a healthier lifestyle. Tips about stress management, diet, hydration, positions to adopt in the bathroom... Read about the basics on how to prevent constipation.
Relieve stress to prevent constipation
Stress leads to poor eating habits, which in turn result in digestive disorders. There are many relaxing activities to choose from, such as yoga, meditation, or soothing massages. Unless otherwise advised by a doctor, regular physical exercise and sports are also strongly recommended. Doing sports not only helps deal with stress, but also improves intestinal transit.
Prevent constipation: Make sure you sleep well at night
Tiredness and bowel movements do not go well together. As it happens, tiredness is often linked to poor-quality sleep. Here are some things to consider to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep every night:
• Lower the temperature in your bedroom to 18-19°C;
• Change your bedding if your mattress is too hard or too soft;
• Avoid caffeine in the hours before bedtime.
What positions help prevent constipation?
Some positions help pass stool while others make it more difficult. Ideally, to limit the risks of constipation, you should adopt a crouching position. This is not an easy task when using Western toilets, however... Still, you can lift your legs (your knees should be higher than your hips) by resting them on a low stool or, when sitting down, lean forward.
Eating habits to prevent constipation
To fight against constipation on a daily basis, it is recommended to stay well hydrated. You should drink at least 1.3-1.5 litres of water every day. You should also avoid drastic weight-loss diets. Low in calories and fibre (nutrients that largely contribute to the quality of your intestinal transit), such diets lead to “fake constipation”. This is when you don’t actually have any trouble passing stool, but its volume is so small that you mistakenly believe that you are constipated... It’s better to eat a diet that is balanced, varied and sufficiently high in fibre if you want to stay slim AND prevent constipation. Fibre is mainly found in fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and legumes (e.g. lentils).
OptiFibre® can help you supplement your diet in fibre. This tasteless and odourless powder easily mixes into yoghurt, soups and beverages and supplements your fibre intake.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND WELL-BEING TO RELIEVE STRESS
Stress and anxiety are risk factors for digestive disorders. It is therefore in your best interest to take the necessary steps to manage them if you regularly suffer from constipation. From yoga to massages, there are many solutions available.
Massages and constipation
All relaxing massages help limit the risks of constipation because they reduce stress by giving you a sense of well-being. Some self-massages are particularly recommended to help relieve constipation-related pain and improve bowel movements. Here is one of them:
1. Lying on your back with your stomach bare, place one of your palms near your belly button. With your fingers flat, massage gently by tracing four small circles around your belly button. This should be done clockwise, i.e. the direction of bowel movements in the colon. Start by massaging lightly, but increase the pressure a little each time.
2. Place your other hand on top of the first one. Trace four large circles around your belly button, exerting even pressure (still clockwise). Lastly, trace another small circle with the tips of your fingers.
Yoga and other well-being activities
In addition to massages, there are many activities you can do to relieve stress. Consider meditation or sophrology breathing exercises, for example. Another useful activity in the event of constipation is yoga. Highly practical, yoga combines relaxing exercises and physical exercises that improve transit. Many hatha yoga (one of the most popular forms of yoga practised in France) poses are useful for relieving constipation, including the Forward Fold, for example, but also the Shoulder Stand and the Plough. If you want to give yoga a try, get in touch with a yoga instructor to find out how to do these poses correctly and safely.
The role of sports
Doing sports is recommended if you need to relieve constipation and stress. One the one hand, sport is an important source of well-being as physical activity releases endorphins (also called “happy hormones” and “pleasure hormones”). Endorphins boost morale all the while relieving pain. On the other hand, some sports help tone your abdominal area, which improves intestinal transit. Lastly, moving your body facilitates intestinal transit, whereas remaining stationary does not help with bowel movements. Unless otherwise advised by a doctor, most endurance sports and cardiovascular activities are recommended for relieving constipation. Consider swimming, hiking or cycling, for example. How long and how often? At least 30 minutes, one to two times per week.
TRAVEL: SOLUTIONS FOR CONSTIPATION TO KEEP IN YOUR BAG
If there’s one ailment that can really put a downer on an idyllic holiday, it’s constipation. Between changing habits and diet, travelling is a recipe for intestinal transit disorders. Thankfully, there are practical solutions for constipation that make it possible for you to fully enjoy business trips or those well-deserved relaxing moments.
Does constipation often occur on holiday?
The answer is yes! Unfortunately, many of us suffer from bowel disorders when travelling. Why? Simply because our digestive system is particularly sensitive to... change! Long hours sitting in a car or plane, changes in temperature, new environments and different culinary specialities are all external factors that significantly affect peristalsis. Some psychological factors may also aggravate constipation during travel, however. This is true for stress, burnout and anxiety, among others. Some travels may be a source of worry, particularly when it comes to business trips.
Moreover, suffering from constipation while travelling by plane can be especially uncomfortable.
What if constipation on holiday is caused by the food you eat?
Being constipated on annual leave is far from unavoidable. Several lifestyle and dietary changes can easily be made to improve bowel movements. The first step you can take, of course, is to watch what you eat. Your diet has a direct impact on how often you pass stool. It is therefore recommended to eat a diet rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre. True, it's not always easy to pay close attention to what you're eating when you're discovering new specialities. OptiFibre® can help you relieve constipation. Composed of partially hydrolysed guar gum, it quickly restores intestinal transit when it becomes occasionally disrupted. Available in 5 g sachets, OptiFibre® will easily fit in your luggage and guarantee carefree holidays or peace of mind during business trips.
What steps should be taken to avoid constipation on holiday?
Contrary to popular belief, diet is not the only factor that affects constipation. Dehydration is another, though many people are unaware of this. Water is one of the most effective weapons against constipation. Often people who suffer from intestinal laziness do not drink enough water. It should be remembered, however, that sugary drinks and alcohol do not have hydrating properties. They can even increase constipation during travel. At the same time, regular physical exercise is essential for limiting constipation while on holiday. Take advantage of good weather to go on walks, cycle or do other sports of your choice!