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The Sluggish Colon or Slow Transit constipation


The Sluggish Colon or Slow Transit constipation

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Two types of constipation are generally recognised
The Sluggish Colon or Slow Transit constipation and Outlet obstruction constipation

The Sluggish Colon or Slow Transit constipation

This type of constipation has a disturbance in the motility of the intestines as its root cause and is more common in women than men.

The cause of the disturbance may be a disease or more often the taking of various medications that slow down gut motility. This is often the case in some elderly people whose bowels have functioned normally all their lives.

Gut motility is often affected by a sudden change in diet as when on holiday, stress created by a new job, lack of movement (exercise) and long distance travel.
We have all experienced a short period of sluggish bowels during these situations.

The main symptoms

Problems moving the bowel over a long period of time.

The need to take laxatives regularly to help move the bowel.

Bloating, gas and abdominal pain that is made worse by fibre.

The absence of an urge to go.


The aim is to avoid constipation and make emptying the bowel a stress free and pain free action without the associated anxiety and stress.

A small change in food intake or increasing fluid intake is all that is required to make it easier to empty the bowel by creating a stool of the required consistency and induce normal pressures within the abdominal cavity for the expulsion of stool without pain.

Quite often, correcting the balance of SOLUBLE and INSOLUBLE fibre in the diet, increasing the amount of fluids one consumes and carrying out some gentle exercise such as a walk corrects the problem.

However, fibre is often not the answer in motility related constipation and can make matters worse by causing impaction and bloating resulting in abdominal pain.

Slow Transit constipation usually leads to the formation of a HARD stool due to the fact that the stool is in contact with the colon for a longer period of time than normal because it is travelling down the colon very slowly.
During this time more and more water is removed by the colon from the faecal mass leading to the formation of the hard stool that is then difficult to propel down towards the rectum and anus.

Recent research suggests that a slow transit and the resulting faecal matter staying in contact with the lining of the colon and rectum can result in the formation of chemicals due to fermentation by bacteria and yeast that may be present in the colon or faecal mass. These chemicals may remain in contact with the colon lining for longer than is safe and lead to cancer or other toxicity where there has been damage due to straining and pushing.

Most people will resort to laxatives to relieve the condition and more often than not this is a stimulant type of laxative that works beautifully for a while. The stimulant type of laxative works by causing the muscle in the bowel wall to contract and propel the faecal mass towards the rectum. The contractions can be quite forceful and are not restricted to the large intestine. The abdominal cramping they can cause may be quite painful. These laxatives can be habit forming and continuous use of this type of laxative leads to total dependence for opening the bowel.

To make matters worse, these laxatives often stop working as efficiently or reliably as initially and lead to the consumption of higher and higher doses leading to the bowels behaving in an unpredictable way and accompanied by abdominal cramps, faecal leakage and incontinence.
In addition, the habitual use of these laxatives leads to an inability of the bowel wall to respond to normal stimuli that we depend on to initiate the defecation reflex. This means that the urge to open the bowel that we get on rising from bed in the morning disappears.

The urge that is created by physical exercise disappears and the colon does not respond by contracting when food and drink enters the stomach. This reduces gut motility further, making a bad situation worse. For this reason, STIMULANT laxatives are only recommended for short term use.

Stool consistency

The proper remedy often lies in the fact that it is the stool consistency that is at the root of the problem.
Slowing down of the passage of faecal content down the colon creates a hard stool.

Drinking more water often does not help as this is re-absorbed by the colon. The remedy is to take a laxative that is termed an OSMOTIC LAXATIVE. This type of laxative when taken with an adequate amount of fluid, allows for this fluid to be retained within the faecal mass in the colon. The fluid is retained by osmotic forces that prevent the absorption of fluids by the colon due to the fact that this type of laxative cannot be absorbed by the digestive tract.

Retention of fluid in the faecal mass leads to a stool that is much softer and so easily propelled and evacuated.
Examples of this type of laxative are LACTULOSE and EPSOM SALTS.
This type of laxative is often combined with a bulking agent to produce a SOFT and BULKY stool that can be passed easily from the rectum into the anal canal.

Ideally, you should not need to take any laxatives to move the bowel but if you must, it is better to take the osmotic type of stool softeners that are not habit forming and do not interfere with the ability of the body to respond to the normal reflexes that aid in the creation of the urge to defecate. This type of laxative does not need to be taken on regular basis either.

How to heal and prevent Bowel disorders

Diet is not about what you should NOT eat, it’s about what you should include in the diet that matters.
As long as your diet includes the correct balance of plant foods containing soluble fibre, insoluble fibre and resistant starch your colon will produce the perfectly formed stool. The important next step is to evacuate this stool without straining so that the body does not suffer from the pressures created each time the bowel is emptied.

In order to heal and prevent bowel disorders you need to make lifestyle changes that last the rest of your life time.

1. Include more fluids and plant food containing soluble fibre, insoluble fibre and resistant starch in the diet so that the perfectly formed stool will be made in the colon and beneficial bacteria will flourish and eliminate disease causing bacteria and fungi.

2. Evacuate the perfectly formed stool by adopting the squat posture to eliminate the need to strain during bowel movements.

It is not possible or safe to squat on the modern raised toilet seat installed in all western homes and it is impossible to squat for any length of time if you have not done this from childhood onwards. This makes the use of any raised platforms impossible to adapt to.

The SquattLooStool is designed to allow you to adopt the squat posture while seated comfortably on your raised toilet seat.
The single best and easiest lifestyle change you will ever make, leading to a healthier body.