What is constipation?
If you have constipation – less than three bowel movements a week, dry or lumpy stool, and/or stool that is hard to pass – you should know that you’re by no means alone. This common problem can be caused by anything from depression to low-carb diets. Here are some of the many factors that might cause constipation.
Sitting too much
When figuring out what causes constipation, the answers may be surprising. Our modern sedentary lifestyle is bad for more than just your waistline, says Dr Atif Iqbal, a gastroenterologist. Staying in a sitting position for long periods of time kinks up your colon, discouraging stool from passing through and causing constipation. Take regular breaks to stand up and move around. Walking and deep squats, in particular, are two movements that are particularly effective for producing a bowel movement. If constipation is a chronic problem and you don’t feel like squatting on top of your toilet, many have found relief using a “squatty potty,” which elevates the legs to a more natural pooping position.
A dairy-heavy diet
Cheeseheads, take note: Eating a lot of this melty, delicious food is one of the main explanations for constipation, says Dr Iqbal. While all dairy products have the potential to stop you up, cheese seems to be the biggest digestive troublemaker – not because it’s inherently constipating but because many people eat it instead of healthier fibre-filled foods like whole grains, fruits and veggies. If you’re eating pizza, for example, you’re probably not eating a salad. Make sure that you save room in your stomach for fibre-filled fare. A review of studies published in 2018 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that eating a high-fibre diet reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and several cancers (including pancreatic, gastric, colon and breast). Generally, this is most often an issue for children.