• Tuesday, January 31, 2023

HEALTH

Cold temperatures and constipation — is there a link?

A lack of dietary fibre and insufficient fluid intake are two of the main factors responsible for constipation.

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By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Health experts state that constipation is an extremely common gastrointestinal problem which can become more agonizing, especially during the winter months. This is because many people experience slow metabolism brought on by inactivity, thus making it difficult to pass their bowels regularly.

Apparently, constipation occurs due to a person’s dietary and lifestyle change issues. A lack of dietary fibre and insufficient fluid intake are two of the main factors responsible for constipation, Healthshots informs.

During winter, physical activities are reduced and this causes unhealthy lifestyle changes. When physical activities are reduced blood flow in the muscles is also decreased, which in turn leads to constipation. Additionally, one’s appetite also tends to increase during winter leading to overeating.

Speaking about constipation in a report in The Indian Express, Dr S T Gopal, senior consultant gastroenterologist and transplant hepatologist, Apollo Hospitals, Sheshadripuram, Bangalore, the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state, reportedly said, it is usually a result of “unhealthy and untimely food habits.”

He also mentions that these unhealthy habits can slow down the movement of stool in the digestive tract and allow for excess absorption of water, which results in the formation of hard and dehydrated stools that are often difficult to expel.

He is quoted as saying, “In winter, however, constipation is mainly due to dehydration or even excessive consumption of beverages like coffee and tea, and also alcohol. There is also a tendency to consume fried and junk foods due to excessive hunger in winter, which can make the stools hard.”

He adds that due to the cold, the body’s metabolic process tends to slow down which further causes sluggish bowel movements.

“Other factors like cold toilet seats also may account for people to postpone bowel evacuations,” he notes.

Generally, during winter, people feel less thirsty and therefore, drink lesser water, points out Dr Tehsin A. Petiwala, consultant gastroenterologist at Masina Hospital, Mumbai, the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra.

He reportedly said, “So, if there is less water consumption than usual, the motility of the intestines is affected and thus the stool becomes hard and difficult to pass.”

Increased appetite leading to overeating during winter also causes constipation Dr Gopal explains.

While agreeing with Dr Gopal, but mentioning about the unhealthy choice of foods that can bring on this issue, Dr Petiwala, is quoted as saying, “Fast foods contain both fats and proteins. These foods also contribute to the imbalance of the gut microbial flora and thus can result in constipation.”

Dr Gopal shares some preventive measures. These include:

  • Drink about three litres of water during winter, especially warm water as it helps to improve digestion.
  • Eat fruits rich in dietary fibre like guavas, grapes, oranges, papaya, banana, grapefruit, and watermelon. These fruits aid in regular bowel movements.
  • Ensure you chew your food properly as it helps to make the breaking down of food easier.
  • Include salads and green leafy veggies in your daily diet as these foods are high in nutrition.
  • Minimise the use of spices like black pepper, cumin, carom, fennel seeds and cardamom in your foods.
  • Reduce your consumption of junk and fried foods and alcohol and excessive caffeinated drinks.

Dietary and lifestyle factors cause chronic constipation informs registered dietician Garima Goyal. But thankfully, some natural remedies can help deal with this condition.

Shared here are some natural remedies that may help.

• Have a glass of warm milk at night with a teaspoon of ghee.

• Soak basil seeds (one teaspoon) at night and drink this water in the morning on an empty stomach.

• Soak 2-3 figs in water overnight and have this first thing in the morning – it helps to clear the colon of the waste.

• Isabgol, also known as psyllium husk with warm water is an effective remedy to deal with constipation.

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