Pelvic well-being is physiologically linked to that of the whole lower abdominal band, which is, in turn, closely related to intestinal well-being. It is no coincidence that the intestine is also known as our “second brain”, as a matter of fact, developing correct and healthy bowel habits is synonymous with general good health. Therefore, just as good intestinal function can bring great advantages, a lazy intestine that tends to retain stools for long periods can be debilitating.
Approximately 13 million Italians suffer from constipation: 9 million women and almost 4 million men, particularly the elderly. Constipation is often caused by problems such as the prolapse of the lower part of the bowel. But exactly what is constipation? What are the causes and what are the remedies for solving it?
In order to simplify the approach to such a complex matter, intestinal transit problems can be split into two types: evacuation constipation, which is mainly due to difficulties in expelling the stools accumulated in the rectum, and slow transit, which is due to reduced intestinal motility. Both issues can be reduced and resolved with three simple ingredients: water, fibre and exercise.
Water is and will always be the basic element of any diet or remedy for physical health. We have been told this in every way possible and countless advertising campaigns have been based on teaching us that water eliminates waste products and toxins from our body. In this particular case, one of the most effective remedies for favouring intestinal transit is to drink the juice of half a lemon in a large glass of warm water. The results will not be immediate, but within five days from the first administration, the results are guaranteed. The antiseptic power of lemon benefits all those situations in which the gut flora has been impaired, with consequent effects on the frequency of voiding.
Secondly, it goes without saying, comes diet. We can all remember our mothers and grandmothers encouraging us to eat our vegetables. Well, Grandma’s natural remedy finds a solid basis in science and vegetable fibre should always be on our tables. It is fundamentally important to “fill” our plate first and foremost with vegetables, leaving less space for proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Then we have foods containing probiotics, like yoghurt and kefir. These products will not only benefit the intestine, but also the figure, taking centimetres off the “spare tyre”. An example of a bulletproof breakfast? Water and lemon, low-fat yoghurt, two kiwi fruit and three wholemeal biscuits with a cup of tea or an infusion. Trying is believing!
Lastly, the third ingredient: exercise, which improves muscle tone and facilitates intestinal peristalsis. Abdominal and perineal muscle tone favours the increase in intra-abdominal pressure during defecation. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, results in the weakening and loss of function of the diaphragm and the muscles that constitute the abdominal wall, preventing it from producing an adequate pressure increase during voiding. A simple half-hour walk favours the activation of an automatic reflex, which produces colon contractions able to push the faecal material towards the anus. As well as benefiting the entire cardiovascular system and developing both the immune system and a good mood.
I mean, who knew? The solution for constipation is constituted by water, diet and exercise.