How to Prevent Constipation and Diarrhea

Saturday 22 September 2012

Your digestive system plays a very important role. It turns the food and drinks you consume into energy by transforming them into nutrients that your body can use. Your gastrointestinal tract breaks down the foods, digest them, absorb the nutrients and utilise them as needed by your body. Parts of foods that cannot be broken down will be excreted.

When you eat something that does not agree with you, your digestive system reacts by producing symptoms of stomach discomfort, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting etc.


Common causes include:
  • inadequate water or fibre in the diet
  • disruption of regular diet or routine
  • inadequate activity or exercise
  • eating large amounts of dairy products
  • stress
  • resisting the urge to have a bowel movement
  • overuse of laxatives (stool softeners) that weaken the bowel muscles
  • medications
  • medical conditions like hypothyroidism, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, eating disorder or depression.
Symptoms include:
  • infrequent or difficulty having bowel movements
  • swollen abdomen
  • abdominal pain


Common causes include:
  • virus or bacteria that infect the gut
  • eating foods that upset the digestive system
  • allergies to certain foods
  • medications
  • diseases like Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis or cancer.
Symptoms include:
  • abdominal bloating or cramps 
  • thin or loose stools 
  • watery stools
  • sense of urgency to have a bowel movement
  • nausea or vomiting.

The above is classified as uncomplicated (non-serious) diarrhea. 
A complicated diarrhea will have additional symptoms like:
  • blood/mucous/undigested food in the stool
  • weight loss
  • fever.

How to keep your digestive system healthy

1. Eat right
Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. 
Eat regular meals, eat slowly and take moderate serving sizes.
Limit fried and sugary foods to avoid indigestion, heartburn and flatulence.
Drink plenty of water.

2. Be active
Getting enough physical activity is an excellent way to promote regular bowel movements, improve appetite and maintain a healthy body weight.

3. Practise good hygiene
Wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet and before touching food. It prevents bad bacteria from entering your gut.

4. Practise regular bowel movement
Establish a regular bowel routine to prevent constipation.

5. Top up on good bacteria
When the bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria, you become more prone to infections. Avoid this by taking probiotics. A very effective source is called Lacto-berry probiotics. It gives many other benefits to your digestive system including preventing colonrectal cancer, reducing cholesterol level, improving your immune system and addressing lactose intolerance problem.

(Source: The Inside Story by Datin Dr Liew Yin Mei, StarFit4Lie, 8 July 2012)

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