Ayurveda expert suggests 5 foods to get rid of chronic constipation
Constipation can be challenging to deal with and can affect your quality of life over a period of time if it's chronic. Here are dietary tips that can help.
A good digestive health is the invisible force that drives your well-being, productivity and moods. However, when the smooth functioning of our bowels gets affected, it can spoil your entire day, leaving you with an uncomfortable feeling, and in many cases with nausea, bloating, and poor appetite. Constipation can be challenging to deal with and can affect your quality of life over a period of time if it's chronic. Many people manage their irregular bowel movements with laxatives but overuse of them can do more harm than good. The condition can improve to a great extent with lifestyle measures, especially dietary changes. (Also read | Ancient Wisdom Part 24: Weight loss to easing constipation; amazing benefits of Triphala)
A diet rich in fibre, healthy fats, and probiotics can help. Be it seasonal fruits and vegetables, organic oils or herbs and spices like ginger and triphala, here are some foods that you must include in your diet to get relief from chronic constipation symptoms.
"Constipation is a common problem related to the gastro-intestinal tract, it is characterized by difficulty in passing stools. This issue arises when the stool in the colon dries out and hardens, making it difficult to pass. While occasional constipation, often stemming from dietary or lifestyle choices, is typical, chronic or severe forms can disrupt one's daily activities. Ayurveda attributes constipation most commonly to an imbalance in the Vata dosha, which is responsible for movement and bodily functions. One of the important properties of the Vata Dosha is dryness. Common causes of constipation include inadequate water and fibre intake, a sedentary lifestyle, a diet rich in meat, and various other factors," says Dr. Madhumitha Krishnan, an Ayurveda Expert.
Constipation can lead to complications such as bloating, discomfort, flatulence, pain, headaches, and bad breath. There is also a risk of the colon absorbing toxins. To address these gastrointestinal challenges, it is essential to correct the imbalance of the Vata dosha with respect to the other doshas. For this Ayurveda uses foods, herbs, spices that help in reducing the dryness and balancing the Vata dosha, says Dr Krishnan.
DIETARY TIPS FOR CHRONIC CONSTIPATION
Here are 5 ways, among many recommended in Ayurveda, to help prevent chronic constipation, as suggested by Dr Krishnan.
1. Add almonds to the diet
If chronic constipation is a problem you encounter, opt for high-fibre foods that are hot in potency. Almonds are one such food that help prevent constipation to a significant extent. In Ayurveda, almonds are recognized for their pharmacological properties and classified as 'Poshaka,' or a tonic that supports all body tissues as well as 'Brimhana,' that which promotes an increase in body mass, and 'Balya,' which has the ability to enhance development of muscle strength. These nutritional nuts would therefore help relieve some of the debility and weakness caused by chronic diseases like constipation as one of their main functions is to strengthen all body tissues and provide a therapeutic effect.
Furthermore, almonds are acknowledged as 'Vatanadi uttejaka,' as in that which would stimulate the nervous system, and 'Vatanadi balya,' which nourishes the nerve tissues. They are even categorized as 'Vrshya,' possessing aphrodisiac qualities, and 'Varnya,' contributing to enhanced complexion and skin health protection.
Due to their inherent sweet taste, unctuousness, and heaviness, almonds can soothe aggravated Vata dosa, support the nervous system, and enhance strength and muscle mass. Considering these benefits, consuming a handful of almonds can be an excellent recovery and preventive addition to your diet if you are suffering from chronic constipation.
2. Increase intake of organic oils in your diet
High quality oils or fats help to lubricate the tissues so that an appropriate amount of oil or fat can remain in the stool. While most oils are generally supportive, the best oils or fats for vata include sesame oil, ghee, and olive oil.
Incorporating dietary changes can sometimes show results slowly for those suffering from constipation. Thus, adding high-quality oils or fats like coconut oil, olive oil, and ghee to your diet can help. These oils lubricate tissues, ensuring an appropriate amount of oil or fat remains in the stool. Castor oil can be used at times but is known to affect the muscles in the intestines, causing them to contract, which often stimulates bowel movements.
A study published in the Polish journal Przeglad Gastroenterology Review found that ghee is a rich source of butyric acid. This acid improves intestinal metabolism and facilitates stool movement, as noted in the study. Additionally, fats like ghee can alleviate symptoms of constipation, such as abdominal pain and bloating. Thus, incorporating a moderate amount of ghee in your meals could be a beneficial starting point.
3. Variety of fruits
Fruits can be a refreshing and beneficial addition to your diet to help soothe vata. Consider ripe bananas, peeled apples, plump prunes, or juicy peaches as top choices. To reap the maximum benefit, consume fruits at least one hour before or after meals and ensure you chew them thoroughly.
Most commonly, people look to the kitchen when trying to handle chronic constipation, and spices are a great way to overcome this problem. Spices such as asafetida, garlic, or even simple salt are great options. Asafetida and garlic are two of the best balancers of the Vata dosha and helps in a downward movement of the gut contents by which constipation is resolved. Common salt also balances Vata and increases the water content in the gut thereby overcoming the dryness contributing to constipation.
There are certain herbs that are known to be very effective in chronic constipation, the most used one is Triphala or the combination of Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) and Vibhitaki (Terminalia bellarica). In combination they balance all the Tridoshas and have a mild laxative quality required in this condition. Another commonly used herb is Swarnapatri or senna (Cassia angustifolia) that is used due to its laxative properties.
"Adopting Ayurveda-inspired dietary changes or inclusion of herbs offers a holistic approach to managing chronic constipation. By integrating almonds, certain organic oils or fats (such as ghee, and olive oil), specific fruits into your daily regimen, or heading to the kitchen to pick up a few spices, or using herbs prescribed by an Ayurveda physician, you can enhance digestive health, alleviate constipation, and move toward a more balanced and comfortable lifestyle. However, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional or Ayurvedic practitioner before following these suggestions," concludes Dr Krishnan.