Most of us are familiar with the term constipation, which is one of the common health complaints. The condition is mainly seen in women, elderly people and kids. According to an international survey, around 10 to 12 percent of the human population suffers from constipation. Females are found to be more prone to this condition, as compared to males. Constipation can be caused by various factors including certain medical conditions. Lack of physical activities, improper diet and stress are said to be the common causes.
While occasional constipation may not be a cause of concern, chronic type has to be evaluated by a health practitioner. This will help you rule out the possibility of any underlying medical condition. Apart from strained bowel movements, constipation may also cause bloating, nausea, headache, change in appetite and abdominal discomfort/pain. Those with recurrent constipation may experience weight gain too. So, what is the relation between constipation and weight gain? Let us find out.
Does Constipation Cause Weight Gain?
If the number of bowel movements in a week is less than three, such a condition is termed constipation. This condition makes the stools hard, as the fecal matter remains in the colon for a much longer time and most of the water in it gets absorbed. This leads to painful or difficult defecation and a sensation of incomplete bowel evacuation. Almost all people suffer from occasional constipation, but, there are some, who experience the condition more frequently. This could be a cause of weight gain and other health problems. The relation between constipation and resultant weight gain is still a much-debated topic, but, there are some theories that suggest a direct link between both the conditions.
The following are some of the reasons that are put forward to substantiate that link.
- In case of constipation, the body finds it difficult to eliminate the accumulated fecal matter. This affects metabolism, which becomes slow, resulting in weight gain.
- Another reason lies in the simple fact that accumulated waste materials in the body adds extra weight. The food we eat does not get eliminated, but gets blocked in the intestine, causing weight gain.
- Constipation may also cause water retention, which in turn causes weight gain.
How to Get Rid of Constipation and Resultant Weight Gain
Constipation may develop due to factors like dehydration, problems in rectum or colon, intake of certain medication, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, lupus, hypothyroidism, lack of physical activities, sudden changes in lifestyle, intake of certain foods, insufficient intake of dietary fiber, depression and stress. You have to find out the cause of constipation, in order to combat the condition. If the cause is an underlying medical condition, get it treated to avoid further complications. Otherwise, changes in diet and lifestyle will be sufficient to control constipation.
Regular Exercises: As lack of sufficient physical activity is one of the common causes of constipation, adopting a regular exercise regimen may prove useful to get rid of this condition. This will increase the rate of metabolism, thereby burning calories. Thus weight gain due to severe constipation can be tackled. Physical activities are also beneficial for smooth bowel movements.
Dietary Changes: Diet is another factor that is directly linked to constipation. Include lots of fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Drink lots of water and avoid consumption of caffeinated drinks and other processed foods. Avoid overeating and reduce intake of dairy products like cheese. It will be better to avoid ice cream, meat, refined carbohydrates, sugar and fatty foods. Resort to frequent, small meals rather than three heavy ones.
Other Tips: If you are a person with constipation, you must never ignore the urge to have bowel movement. There are certain drugs that can cause constipation. They include antacids, antidepressants, NSAIDs, iron supplements, etc. If you are taking any medication and is suffering from constipation, then consult your doctor and sort out the doubt. However, discontinuation of any medication without the advise of your healthcare provider is not advisable. Some people recommend colon cleansing as an effective method to control constipation and weight gain. However, seek the advice of your doctor, before adopting such methods.
In short, constipation is very common and can be easily countered with these remedial measures. However, medical attention is unavoidable for those with severe and chronic constipation. Laxatives are widely used for treating this condition. Long-term use of laxatives and stool softeners is also not recommended, as it can worsen the condition in the long run. The body will get used to these stimulants, and will find it difficult to expel the feces without an expected dose. In some cases (like those with rectal prolapse), surgery may be required to combat constipation.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.