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The basic function of the digestive tract is to provide the body with the nutrients necessary for its proper functioning. Both the quality and quantity of the nutrients determine the correct development and the course of all the processes taking place in the organism, i.e. they determine the health condition. Nowadays with the development of the industry, we are consuming more and more processed foods, enriched with substances, the aim of which is to preserve, stabilise, correct the taste, smell and appearance. The a sedentary lifestyle.

Proper defecation is a process of purifying the body from, among others, food remains and waste generated in the processes of metabolism and from toxins. Long-term stagnation of stool in the colon results in an increased body poisoning and the risk of transmission of pathogenic bacteria from the intestinal tract to the bloodstream.

The most frequent causes of constipation

Inadequate fluid intake - the minimum requirement for an adult person for water is about 1.5l per day. Pay attention to the fact that we often consume coffee or tea drinks which, by showing diuretic activity, can further deepen fluid deficiency.

Diet low in vegetables, fruits, wholemeal flour (bread, pasta), bran. These foods contain a lot of "residual" amounts in the form of fiber, absorb harmful substances from the intestines and cause mechanical stretching of the intestinal walls, stimulating thus peristalsis.

Excess amount of fats, simple sugars and proteins in food. This is the so-called low-fibre diet containing few substances that can stretch the intestinal walls. As a result, the peristalsis slows down and the fecal mass is retained in the large intestine.

Factors related to the way of life. Stress, haste, insufficient sleep and lack of movement. Walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc. stimulate the muscles of the abdomen by strengthening the so-called abdominal press, which is responsible for the mechanics of the bowel movements.

Inappropriate slimming. Too little fluid supply and abuse of laxatives can distort the natural defecation process.

Diseases that may be symptoms of constipation. Constipation may also be a cause of serious systemic conditions. If they are suspected, medical consultation is required. Examples: cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, thyroid disease.

How to solve the constipation problem?

Not every case of a defecation, the frequency of which is less than once a day, requires the administration of laxatives, as there are many people who physiologically pass the stool every second or every third day. The basic treatment for constipation is a change in the lifestyle, ensuring enough exercise, drinking at least 1.5 l of beverages per day, increasing the number of fruits, vegetables, dark breads and wholemeal flour and bran, with a simultaneous reduction of fats and sweets. If constipation persists for a long time or is accompanied by abdominal pain, medical consultation is required, because, as already mentioned, these symptoms may be a sign of many serious diseases.

How to treat constipation?

Apart from the change of a diet, in order to cope with constipation, one can reach for one of many over-the-counter products. Fibrous products increasing the volume of the fecal masses ,containing fibrous substances such as fiber, flantago ovata seeds or flax seeds will be effective when the constipation is caused by an inappropriate diet. Stool softeners, such as liquid paraffin or glycerol suppositories, will bring relief on an ad-hoc basis, but their long-term use may interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. When using osmotic agents such as Epson salt, Glauber salt or lactulose, it is important to remember that they can accelerate the loss of potassium ions.

The most popular group of medicines used to treat constipation are preparations based on natural, medicinal plant raw materials. At present, complex preparations containing a variety of raw materials are considered to be more effective, as their combined effect not only effectively eliminates constipation, but also acts as a detoxifying agent.

Medicinal plant raw materials used to treat constipation

Anthranoid raw materials, the so-called irritants - their main representatives is the senesa leaf, obtained from alona aloe, as well as buckthorn and rhubarb. These compounds cause congestion of the pelvic organs and accumulation of water in the large intestine, which in consequence produces the laxative effect. Formulations based on these raw materials are highly effective and easy to take, but remember that as with any other medications, they must not be abused. If constipation persists for more than 1-2 weeks, please consult your doctor. Vegetable laxatives should also be avoided by pregnant women.

Adjuvants - no less important

In addition to the typical raw materials having the laxative effect, the modern combination drugs also include adjuvants. An example may be the dandelion, the laxative action of which is used in both official and folk medicine. This raw material shows a strong cholagogue and biligenic activity, helping to remove the toxins from the liver, improving at the same time the digestion process and supporting the carbohydrate metabolism. Currently the antitumor properties, especially those against the colorectal cancer, of the dandelion root are being investigated. Another interesting raw material used in the formulas of preparations treating constipation is fucus vesiculosus - an alga coming from the cold seas, also from the Baltic Sea, rich in iodine. This raw material is a traditional remedy for constipation and obesity, and its polysaccharides swell in the intestines, facilitating gentle defecation. It is especially recommended for obese and elderly patients. Because of its iodine content, allergic persons and patients suffering from thyroid dysfunction should discuss with their GP the administration of preparations containing fucus.

When taking laxatives you should remember

The choice of an appropriate specification should be based on the professional advice of a physician or pharmacist. Long-term use of all laxatives may cause adverse events, so if you need longer dosing, you should use alternatives from different groups. It is also important to remember that pregnancy and such conditions as intestinal tumors or intestinal obstructions are an absolute contraindication to oral laxatives.

Disorders caused by the use of medicines

Constipation may be a result of taking certain medications, e.g. those containing salts of iron, calcium, aluminum, bismuth, morphine-derived painkillers, some diuretics, drugs for hypertension or depression. If you suspect that constipation may be related to the medicines taken by you, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Are constipations conducive to cancer?

Diets based on highly processed products, e.g. frequent consumption of low quality meat, introduce a significant amount of nitrate preservatives into the digestive tract. These intestinal residues can be transformed by intestinal flora into toxic and carcinogenic nitrosamines. These dangerous changes are often caused by constipation, accompanied by prolonged long-term lingering of faeces in the bowel.