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Can Constipation Cause Dementia?

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Constipation is a common digestive problem. It is defined as when your bowel motions occur less frequently than usual for you, often causing you to have hard stools (poo), sometimes looking remarkably like rabbit pellets!

There are many ways to treat constipation. From exercise to dietary changes to medicines plus some newly researched solutions you might not have heard of yet.

 

Regular exercise is even important for your bowels. Getting things moving can quite literally get things moving. Walking is great for your digestive system as well as your mental well-being.

 

Increasing fibre in your diet is also key. Make sure you are having sufficient fruit and vegetables along with whole grains in your daily diet.  A whooping 25g of fibre per day is recommended but most people aren't getting anywhere near this.  Try adding up your fibre for a couple of days to see if you are hitting the target. The website nutritionfoundation.org.nz has helpful information, or alternatively you can add up your daily fibre intake on an app, such as fitbit. Take care to ramp up fibre intake slowly.

 

Staying hydrated is another essential. It is recommended that you have between 1.5 to 2 L of water per day. 

 

At the pharmacy we have a range of medicines to help treat constipation, from gentle and mild (such as lactulose and coloxyl &senna) to more intensive help (eg.microlax enemas), depending on what you need. Our pharmacists can help you choose what is right for you.

 

Recent studies indicate that probiotics (good bacteria) may be helpful for certain types of constipation, However not all probiotics are designed for helping with constipation, so make sure you get the right one. At Unichem Manly Pharmacy, we use our practitioner only range Metagenic's Ultra Flora GI Regulate to help people with constipation.

 

Kiwifruit extract has the triple action of digestive enzymes, fibre and prebiotics. The enzyme supports movement of the bowel, contains insoluble fibre for bulking and soluble fibre that draws water into the stool to soften plus prebiotics to nourish the bacteria in your tummy. Kiwifruit extract is available in a capsule form called Phloe.

 

Sadly aging can not only unbalance our gastrointestinal flora but may in some instances lead to reduced digestive enzymes. With the help of a nutritional practitioner, these can be added back, thus aiding in treatment of constipation and other gut problems.

 

So can constipation really cause dementia?  A study released this month showed that chronic constipation is associated with deficits in memory and attention with patients tested having three years more cognitive decline than those who had bowel movements more frequently. The people with chronic constipation also had more bacteria that cause inflammation in their guts and less bacteria that break down dietary fibres. Whilst the study showed a correlation, not causation, meaning the study doesn't prove constipation causes such problems, it adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting gut health plays a role in dementia and related illnesses such as Alzheimers disease.  So probiotics, for example, are definately worth considering.

 

It’s also important to remember that there are some conditions that may seem like a harmless common digestion problem, but may be something more serious. That’s why you should always check with on of our pharmacists.

 

If you are having issues with constipation, come and see one of our pharmacists for information, or for one on one advice see our nutritionally qualified pharmacist in our Gut Health Clinic. Call 094247708 or click here to book your appointment

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