Constipation and weight gain: a link?

2023-06-21 04:53:49

When are we talking regarding constipation and chronic constipation?

We are not all equal when it comes to intestinal transit. When some have a bowel movement up to three times a day, others who only go there three times a week without any particular difficulty, are not constipated.

We speak of constipation when there is difficulty in evacuating, associated with a decrease in the frequency of stools, less than three stools per week.
Dr Pierre Boucher, general practitioner

When this constipation persists for more than 3 monthsit is considered as chronic. If it lasts less, we speak of acute or occasional constipation.

Causes: what foods promote constipation?

There are many factors that favor or aggravate constipation: stress, physical inactivity, taking certain medications, travel, hospitalization, certain pathologies (hypothyroidism), lack of hydration, etc.

But food plays a key role in the quality of transit, and while certain foods facilitate digestion, others, on the contrary, slow it down.

THE foods that constipate are :

white rice, quince, red meat, unripe bananas, foods high in sugar and/or fat (pastries, fried foods, etc.), chocolate, and ultra-processed foods in general.

Do you gain weight when you are constipated?

When one has been constipated for several days, the stools remain and accumulate in the colon instead of being evacuated, which inevitably results in slight increase in weight on the scale. However, being constipated does not make you fat, since the extra weight corresponds to food residues and not to fat gain.

If constipation does not make you fat in itself, it often reflects an unbalanced diet, which can be the cause of weight gain.
Dr Boucher

In addition, some endocrine diseases, such as hypothyroidism, can have a impact on metabolism, therefore both on the transit and on the weight. ” It is then hypothyroidism which is the cause of weight gainand not constipation”, insists the doctor.

Bloating, abdominal pain, swollen belly: what are the symptoms of constipation?

If constipation does not make you fat, it is on the other hand associated with digestive symptoms that can make you feel like you’ve gained weight : swollen and heavy stomach, bloating, gas, abdominal pain, feeling of being tight in his clothes at waist level… These symptoms are those of constipation and disappear as soon as the transit returns to normal.

What is the stool weight over 3 days?

On average, we produce regarding 150 g of stool per day, which therefore corresponds to 450 g every three days. A person who has been constipated for three days can therefore display almost half a kilo more on the scale, which will be lost once she has had a bowel movement.

What are the side effects and consequences of constipation?

When left untreated and becomes chronic, constipation can have some unpleasant side effects.

First, she tends to produce a feeling of fatigueprobably linked to the lack of elimination of toxins and the feeling of “heaviness” it causes. When it induces pushing efforts to exonerate the stool, chronic constipation can be the cause hemorrhoidseven to weakening of the pelvic floorwith a risk of organ descent.Severe constipation can finally cause the formation of a fecesnamely a hard and dehydrated stool plug, which accumulates in the final part of the intestine.The most serious complication of fecal impaction is then intestinal obstructionwhich requires urgent care.

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Diet and advice: what to do and what to eat when you are constipated?

The first thing to do in case of constipation is to drink enough, in order to rehydrate the stools to facilitate their evacuation. We recommend a minimum of one and a half liters of water per day (or herbal teas, clear broth, tea, etc.), namely 8 glasses of drinkideally distributed between meals.

Water can be chosen rich in magnesium, a mineral known for its laxative effect. The best known magnesian mineral waters are Hépar®, Contrex® or Talians®.

“Eating enough foods rich in soluble and insoluble dietary fiber is also one of the main recommendations for constipated patients,” says Dr. Boucher. Soluble fibers act by gorging themselves with water and increasing the weight of the stool, which speeds up transit. The insolubles, for their part, are only very slightly digested by the body, and form therefore a residual net in the bolus, which facilitates the transit of stools and increase their volume.

The foods richest in fiber are: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and seeds.

More specifically, the natural laxatives the most effective are: prunes, cooked spinach, green beans, wheat bran and oat bran, citrus fruits, artichoke and chia seeds.
It is also recommended to eat at a fixed time, slowly, taking the time to chew your food well.

Finally, the regular practice of a physical activity is essential to maintain a good transit. Sport actually strengthens the abdominal belt, which helps to stimulate intestinal peristalsis, ie the mobility of the intestines, essential to facilitate the progression of stools and their evacuation. For the less athletic, walking is a very good activity to find a healthy intestinal transit.

In the most severe cases of constipation, laxatives can be prescribed by the doctor.

Be careful, for all the reasons mentioned above, laxatives are not a cure for overweight and should therefore not be taken by patients who do not suffer from constipation in order to lose weight more easily!
Dr Boucher

Pregnancy: why are pregnant women often constipated?

Constipation would affect nearly 40% of pregnant women, or nearly one out of two future mothers!
Several factors would act together during this period, to promote the slowing down of intestinal transit: “the variations hormonales (in particular a drop in progesterone which slows transit), increase in the size of the uterus which comes to compress the digestive tract and the decrease in physical activity…”, enumerates Dr. Boucher.

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