Usually the cause of constipation is an unbalanced diet and/or lifestyle. In some cases medication or surgery causes constipation. Common contributors to constipation include:
- Insufficient fibre. Fibre acts as a gentle broom to sweep the digestive tract, and also feeds friendly bacteria. The fibre in peas, beans, lentils and nuts is particularly helpful.
- Lack of friendly bacteria. The overuse of antibiotics and some other medications can kill off friendly bacteria. Excessive hygiene also reduces recolonization of the intestines with fresh good bacteria. These bacteria, also known as lactic bacteria, break down fibre which then feeds and strengthens the cells making up the intestinal walls. They also stimulate peristalsis, the wave-like movement of the intestinal muscles. Live yoghurt, live sauerkraut and live kimchi all provide lactic bacteria.
- Excessive animal food: meat, cheese, fish. Although these are all beneficial in a balanced diet, in excess they can act like glue and clog up the passages.
- Insufficient water. Water is the most important lubricant for the gastrointestinal tract.
- Insufficient exercise. Movement makes everything work better including digestion and elimination.