Diabetes and Constipation: Why and How to Help

Constipation is a common problem among diabetics. Continue reading about the most common causes that leads to constipation and how to deal with.

Living with diabetes is not an easy thing. Constipation is one problem among many other problems that diabetic patients have to deal on daily basis. It has been estimated that about 60% of diabetic patients have also problems with constipation, especially those who have been dealing with diabetes over a long period of time. For this reason, it is very important to take a good care of the entire body in order to avoid problems such as constipation. Often a change of the diet, as well as, a change of the lifestyle, is not enough. Continue reading about diabetes constipation and how to deal with it.

Diabetes and Constipation: Why and How to Help?

Dehydration Due to High Blood Sugar Can Lead to Constipation

When the human body becomes dehydrated, it will try to recuperate the lack of water by pulling it from the colon. Normally, this will lead to having a dry stool, a hard stool which will be harder and even more painful to eliminate.

Having a constant higher blood sugar requires more water to flush the excess sugar out of the blood. If this extra water is not replaced, diabetic patients and especially those with uncontrolled diabetes can live in a constant state of dehydration, often dealing with constipation due to this lack of fluids as well.

  • How to Help

When it comes to preventing constipation due to dehydration it is very important to control the levels of blood sugar. Caffeine intake should be limited as it will just contribute to dehydration even more as it is known to have diuretic effects. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is very important and will prevent constipation due to dehydration. Staying hydrated and replacing the lost water is necessary.

Diet Can Cause Diabetes Constipation

You probably know that what a person eats during the day is very important for overall health. This is especially true when it comes to diabetics as what a person eat plays a great role in the levels of blood sugar. Diabetics should limit their daily carb intake, even though some types of carbs are a good source of fiber. Certain types of food such as rice, wheat, rye, etc., are rich in insoluble fibers. Insoluble fibers will bulk up the stool and retain the water. However, diabetics should avoid these types of food as they contain a lot of carbs. Fruits are also something diabetics should avoid or consume with limitation because they are high in fructose which will increase the levels of blood sugar.

  • How to Help

As mentioned, when dealing with diabetes, diet is very important. In order to avoid constipation, as well as, in order to keep normal blood sugar levels as much as possible, try to consume sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, for example, wheat bread instead of white bread, brown rice instead of white rice, etc. Processed foods should be avoided as well.

Foods that have a low glycemic index should be included as much as possible such as cherries, blueberries or raspberries when it comes to fruits, almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts when it comes to nuts, etc. Vegetables should be part of the daily diet as well as they are rich in soluble fibers.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, fibers are very important and will help diabetics deal with constipation. A high fiber diet has been estimated to lower the levels of blood sugar by 10%.

Constipation Often Results from Medications

Diabetics often take too many medications in order to maintain a normal blood sugar levels and treat other diseases as well. Constipation often results from various medications such as pain medications, antibiotics, etc. Often, a combination of certain medications and their interaction can lead to constipation even though if taken alone these medications will have no effect on the gastrointestinal system.

  • How to Help

Constipation due to medications is often a difficult problem. However, there are always certain measures a diabetic can take in order to prevent constipation due to medications. Antibiotics, as mentioned are a problem for diabetics as they will interfere with the normal gut flora. Diabetic patients should always take probiotics after finishing a course of antibiotics for whatever reason in order to repopulate the normal bacterial gut flora. Healthcare providers often can help avoid constipation due to medications as much as possible by changing the roster of medications a patient takes.

Bacterial Overgrowth Leads to Diabetes Constipation

Bacterial overgrowth is a common problem for diabetics leading to gas, bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort, sometimes even diarrhea. The longer the food remains in the colon, yeasts and fungi multiply rapidly and take over the normal flora of the colon, reducing the amount of beneficial bacteria at the same time.

  • How to Help

In order to replace yeasts and fungi in the colon and to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria, a diabetic should try to consume foods such as meats, eggs, vegetables, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, avocado, nuts, etc.

Fast foods, processed foods, white bread, white potatoes, white rice, etc., should be eliminated as they will just make constipation get worse.

Diabetic Neuropathy Leads to Constipation

Diabetics often develop diabetic neuropathy as the disease progresses with time. Diabetic neuropathy is characterized by a damage of the nerves throughout the human body due to high levels of blood sugar, including the nerves of the colon which will have an effect on the normal bowel movement, often leading to constipation. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetic neuropathy develops in about 60 or 70% of diabetics.

  • How to Help

In order to prevent diabetes constipation, resulting from diabetic neuropathy, drinking plenty of water, eating a healthier diet, eating in smaller portions a couple of times throughout the day, as well as avoiding the foods that are hard to digest is very important.

If a diabetic is a smoker, he/she should quit immediately as it is well known that cigarette smoking will only contribute to the development of diabetic neuropathy and make constipation even worse. Avoiding alcohol consumption or its consumption in moderation is also very important.

Regular physical exercise is a must for diabetic patients as gaining muscle mass will help decrease the insulin resistance of the body, lowering this way the levels of blood sugar.

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