Difficulty in bowel movements, dryness and hardness of stool volume, heavy stool passage and going to the toilet less than 3 times a week are considered as constipation.
Constipation, which is seen in approximately 30% of patients after obesity surgeries (especially sleeve gastrectomy), is one of the most common problems with shrinking stomach volume and decreased food intake. Constipation is not a disease, but a temporary problem that manifests itself with various symptoms and signs affecting the digestive system. Constipation, which affects people’s lives negatively, can cause hemorrhoids or bloody stools if precautions are not taken.
What are the main symptoms of constipation
- Going to the toilet less than 3 times a week
- Hard and dry stool
- Bloating and abdominal pain
- Pain and difficulty during bowel movements
- Feeling of fullness in the intestines even after defecation
- Rectal obstruction
What causes constipation
The main task of our large intestines (colon) is to absorb the water in the leftover food passing through our digestive system. Then stool is formed. Colon muscles push out the rectum to expel waste from the body. If stool stays in the colon for too long, it can be difficult to pass. Foods rich in fiber are usually found in plants. Fiber comes to the large intestine in soluble and insoluble form. Soluble fibers dissolve in water and form a soft gel-like consistency as they pass through the digestive tract. Insoluble fiber mostly preserves its structure as it passes through the digestive system, but both types of fiber combine with stool to increase stool volume and soften it at the same time. This facilitates the passage of stool through the rectum.
Constipation problems may occur in individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery, due to reduced stomach capacity, decreased food intake, decreased dietary fat intake, inadequate fiber nutrition, and insufficient water consumption. At the same time, lack of daily physical activity and drugs used (buskopan, spasmomen, iron supplements, some antidepressants, some anxiety relievers, sleep regulators, etc.) can cause constipation. In addition, the stress factor is among the most important causes affecting the muscle contractions of the colon and can cause constipation.
- Decreased nutrient intake
- Insufficient fiber consumption
- Insufficient water consumption
- Consuming very large amounts of milk
- Low physical activity and inactivity
- Trying to hold the stool when the need is felt
- Some drugs used
are the main factors that cause constipation.
How to solve constipation problem
- Pay attention to the adequate distribution of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in your diet. You can get help from a nutritionist to calculate this.
- Consume foods containing fiber more frequently in your diet (Raw vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, etc.). Although your daily fiber consumption varies according to age and gender, it should be between 20-35 g on average.
- You should consume the fresh fruits that can be consumed with the shell. Dried apricots, dried plums, and figs are among the fruits with high fiber content, so you can increase their consumption.
- Increase your consumption of raw vegetables (salads). You can put seeds such as flaxseed, chia seeds into them. These seeds, when combined with fluid in the intestine, will gel and help soften the stool volume and help prevent constipation.
- Increase your physical activity, exercise regularly. Try to get about 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, with 30 minutes of exercise a day at least five times a week. Take a fiber supplement if needed.
- Increase your water consumption. Take care to drink at least 1.5-2 liters of water daily (at least 2-2.5 liters in summer). Consuming plenty of water will also make the fibers dissolve more easily. Other beverages (such as milk, buttermilk, tea, coffee) consumed during the day do not replace water. Especially diuretic beverages such as coffee and brewed tea can cause water loss from the body and may increase constipation. In this process, it should be avoided as much as possible.
- Limit the consumption of alcohol and caffeinated beverages that cause dehydration.
- You should eat your food slowly, chewing it well.
- Do not delay when you need to defecate. The longer you wait, the harder your stool may become.
- Consume probiotic foods such as yogurt and kefir with live active cultures. Consuming kefir will be good for your constipation thanks to the probiotics it contains, and it will also help you meet your protein needs.
- A reliable probiotic can help refill the gut. Probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, pickles, and kombucha are great supplementary foods that you can consume alongside your main meals but are also very beneficial for the intestinal microbiota.
- If your constipation does not go away despite these, under the supervision of your doctor, you can use laxatives that will not make your colon movements dependent on them.
Although constipation is not generally seen as a big problem, it can be a sign of other serious problems. For this reason, laxative drugs and herbal teas containing senna should not be used without consulting a doctor, as it may cause intestinal laziness in the future, even if it will relieve you at that moment in order to reach a solution immediately.
Recipes for constipation
1) Since we cannot use solid food in order to solve the constipation problem that frequently occurs in patients who have just had gastric sleeve surgery and are in the liquid phase, it would be beneficial to consume apricot compote, plum compote or their marmalade during the puree period.
2) Constipation marmalade:
- 2 dried apricots
- 1 dried fig
- 1 prune
- 1 walnut
- 1 teaspoon of warm water
- 1 teaspoon of flaxseed
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
Soak dried fruits in warm water or boil them. Then pass all the ingredients through the blender and consume 1-2 teaspoons every day for 1 week.
3) Gut-friendly smoothie
- 1 cup of kefir
- 1 teaspoon of flaxseed
- 2 dried apricots
Pass all the ingredients through the blender and consume it every other day, in your snacks.
4) A constipation relief recipe that will cut your sweet cravings
- 1 glass (200 ml) of milk
- 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
- 2 dried apricots
- 1 teaspoon cocoa
- 1 teaspoon of Turkish coffee
Let’s run them all through the blender and our smoothie is ready.
5) Anti-constipation mix
- 1 teaspoon of hot water
- 2 tablespoons of oatmeal
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Mix the ingredients and leave for about 15-20 minutes. Drink it on an empty stomach in the morning and avoid eating anything for at least 2-3 hours afterwards.
6) Intestinal tea
- 1 liter of water
- Half a bunch of parsley
- 1 handful of cherry stems
- Three bags of green tea
- 3 dried apricots
- half lemon slices
Boil all the ingredients and consume them in your snacks throughout the day.