The constipation conundrum: Keep your gut and taste buds happy!
 
Constipation is a challenge for some to healthy living, but the challenge is not insurmountable.

The constipation conundrum: Keep your gut and taste buds happy!

By Dr Trushna Bhatt

Indians love food, and this is not limited to a specific genre, cuisine or taste. This is probably why "how to stay healthy" often takes a back seat to "how to keep the taste buds happy". No wonder then that we have a fair share of digestive troubles and constipation tops the list of those problems for most Indian foodies.

It's all about food

Despite that, the love for food continues unabated transcending ritual-based fare specific to weddings, poojas, festivals, and other occasions. We enjoy our ghee-laden biryanis as much as we do our spicy, chutney-oozing vada pavs! For Indian foodies, entire conversations can begin and end with food. However, this is where the conversation plateaus. This discussion rarely progresses to the problematic parts where the food passes from your tongue to your super-important gut.

So, while all the culinary talk is understandable and enjoyable, what isn't healthy is the way we smoothly brush the matter of digestion under the carpet. Digestive issues are seldom brought up in public even when one finds it challenging to clear their head about not being able to clear their bowels the day after a big meal. This casual avoidance is probably because we regularly and unfailingly pamper our taste buds at the cost of gut-health.

Force of Habit

Any digestive issue, especially the trouble faced in bowel emptying, does not get much of our attention. The expectation is that the issue is a temporary one that will sort itself out within a few days, and the most we do for it is try a couple of home remedies.

Most people who regularly find it strenuous to have a satisfactory bowel movement hesitate to speak about it or seek help, so it's commonly left untreated long enough to become a chronic issue that's progressed and become difficult to treat. With the "constipation discussion" being considered "taboo" or "impolite", it's understandable that those affected keep it under wraps, preferring to use home remedies or other low-profile methods to sort it out.

Constipation in Numbers

But, this is where the problem slowly begins to grow. Although most people disregard the common problem of constipation, it is prevalent among 14 percent urban Indians. The global prevalence of this health issue is 10 percent, lower than that in India. These figures, reported by the Abbott Gut-Health Survey represent 3,500 Indians across 6 urban Indian cities. Though ages 45-65 years exhibit a higher incidence, it torments the old and the young alike.

We typically go to the doctor when the issue becomes chronic and starts to affect our daily life. By the time the doctor enters the picture, the problem has worsened with secondary issues like anal fissures, piles, faecal incontinence, making their presence felt. It's also common for someone with chronic constipation to become moody, irritable, and anxious.

How to stay healthy: The warning signs

If you're regularly experiencing the following:

  • Pain and difficulty while passing motion with the need to strain on at least 25% of the occasions
  • Appearance of very hard, pellet-like stools that are difficult to pass on more than 1/4th of the occasions
  • Inability to pass stools more than thrice a week for at least 3 months
  • Feeling of bowel obstruction and incomplete bowel emptying on most days

It's time to check-in with the doctor. You may have chronic constipation, and the earlier you seek medical help, the more effective your treatment will be.

Why does this happen?

We Indians are more prone to this digestive disorder because of our food habits. Regular and high intake of oily, spicy, non-vegetarian, and high-calorie processed and snack foods coupled with a tendency to drink very less water makes us more vulnerable than others. The best preventive method involves a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, minimal use of oils and fats, and enough water intake every day (at least 2 litre).

Then there are other influencing factors such as hereditary tendencies, for example, which despite the balanced dietary pattern can cause problems. So, eating healthy foods will certainly lower your risk.

The first step to solving an issue is understanding it better and to do that you need to be able to talk about it. It is a great way to start giving your gut the attention it deserves

Disclaimer: This publication / editorial / article is meant for awareness/educational purposes and does not constitute or imply an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation of any Products. Please consult your doctor/ healthcare practitioner before starting any diet, medication or exercise.