Constipation During Ramadan
Solutions to a common issue
One of the questions I get this time of the year is “what do I do about constipation during fasting?” This is a very common problem that plagues many people and may get worse during fasting.
The problem usually is a combination of 4 things:
Lack of fiber intake
Decrease water intake (expected during fasting)
Changes in sleep schedule
Decrease in caffeine intake (for coffee/tea drinkers)
Here’s how to address each point, and some extra help beyond them:
People usually do not intake enough fiber during the regular year, let alone when they are limited to suhoor and Iftar as their only meals. Fiber recommendations are as follows:
20-25g per day for women
30-38g per day for men
During Ramadan people tend to consume more fried and processed foods and not getting enough fiber. To address this:
Increase fruit intake (dates are great here)
Increase intake of legumes/beans/lentils which are very high in fiber
Trial of Chia seeds in water or yogurt. This is a trick I use to easily increase fiber intake (1oz chia seed has about 10g fiber)
If unable to do above, consider a fiber supplement (such as Psyllium Husk) after discussing this with your doctor
Without enough water, people’s bowel movements tend to become hard and more difficult to pass. Previously we discussed how strategies for hydration during Ramadan, but for many people this is still a struggle. The recommendations on water intake will depend on your lifestyle and the climate you live in, but I tend to trust my thirst and drink until I quench my thirst.
The digestive system follows a circadian system just like the rest of the body, and when we alter our sleep schedules like many of us do during Ramadan, this can adversely affect our digestion and lead to constipation in some individuals. Our body keeps close track of when we eat, when we sleep and when to digest. It takes some time (on the order of days) to adapt.
To address this:
Keep a regular sleep schedule
Eat at regular times
What many coffee drinkers will tell you is that their bowel movements are closely linked to their morning cup of java. Caffeine may act as a mild laxative, which explains why many people have difficult with constipation when decreasing/stoping caffeine intake.
You can consider:
Drinking your normal caffeine at suhoor
For some people, even after addressing all of the above, constipation is still a major issue. At that point, I would discuss with your primary care doctor options for laxatives, many which are available over the counter. Rarely, I like to use:
Senna (which has some mention in the Hadith literature)
Of course, discuss these options with your doctor first to make sure they are safe/right for you. There are stronger options your doctor can recommend beyond these as well.
I hope this helps. Let me know what questions you have.
Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. Please discuss with your doctor prior to initiating any medical or health intervention. No doctor/patient relationship is formed.