Some may say, ‘Why should I know the causes of constipation? Just tell me how to get rid of it.’ They are either impatient or uninterested about the nuts and bolts of a problem. Or may be, they think that such details are beyond their intellectual capacity. But not you.
I wish you understand the concepts. Have a true picture of what is happening inside your body- from the moment you eat food until the leftovers (waste matter) exit your body. How does this waste matter move and why it gets stuck on the way? What does it contain to make it so harmful if it stays inside for a long time?
There are many causes of constipation. As you understand the digestive system functions, constipation causes reveal themselves one by one.
If your constipation problem is a longstanding one, it simply means this: your complete colon, up to the rectum is packed with waste matter. It needs to move just three inches (from rectum to anus) to exit. The problem is, it doesn’t.
Man is able to move things hundreds of kilometers in a minute. But, he struggles to move fecal matter by three inches! What a sad state! It is there packed up to the rectum. You need to make it travel just three inches and it is out! But, one may take 30 minutes, one hour, one day or even three days! What a struggle people undergo! The end result is normally one of defeat.
Unsatisfactory evacuation. We are not going to allow this sad state of the body for long.
Digestive system functions:Let us look at the human digestive system anatomy and understand the digestion process.
There are three digestive organs- mouth, stomach and small intestine. Seven meters long digestive tract (from mouth to rectum) consists of
- 0.5m of esophagus (tube connecting 1. mouth and stomach)
- 5m of small intestine
- 1.5m of large intestine (colon)
Digestion starts in the mouth. When food is chewed, saliva converts some of the starches (carbohydrates) into sugar.
Thorough chewing helps in three ways:
- Makes food into a paste, which helps the digestive juices to mix with food well in the stomach.
- Easy passage of food in esophagus.
- Digest as much carbohydrates as possible.
Stomach and small intestine:
Stomach grinds food into a very fine paste and converts all nutrients into a state for easy absorption by the body. Nutrients get absorbed through the walls of small intestine and reach the cells.
That is the digestion process put in a nutshell.
What is left out?
Undigested food, fiber and dead bacteria and dead cells. We call this stool or fecal
matter. It is waste matter to be thrown out (defecation) via anus. As far as your body is concerned, fecal matter is garbage.
This garbage enters the colon (large intestine), our body’s garbage bin. When fecal matter enters colon, it has sufficient water content and no bad smell. It moves towards rectum by the muscular contraction (peristalsis) in the walls of the colon. Fiber and water help it to move freely.
As fecal matter remains more time in the colon, water content decreases because of two reasons:
- Water gets absorbed into the body through colon walls.
- Water evaporates because of heat in the colon.
If fecal matter exits within 24 hours after eating food, its fine. As it remains more time in the colon, it becomes thicker, acquires offensive smell because of decomposition. Why bad smell? More because of dead bacteria and dead cells. As matter becomes thicker, movement becomes more difficult.
Causes of constipation:
As an example, water and fiber play very important role for the free movement of fecal matter. At the same time, your colon muscles must be healthy and active for proper peristalsis movement. Thus, insufficient water, insufficient fiber or improper colon muscular movement can be termed as causes of constipation.
We are going to discuss about many such factors in detail. Each one of them contributes to free bowel movement. Hence, functional deficiency of each one of them can be termed as one of the causes of constipation.