If you have been suffering from constipation, there may be some cause for concern regarding your kidney function and health. According to a study published by the Journal of The American Society of Nephrology, constipation sufferers are 13% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than adults who do not have issues with constipation.
And the risk could be increased, depending on the severity of the constipation being experienced.
Medical researchers aren’t ready to say that constipation is a cause of CKD, rather that there is a link between gut health and kidney health.
What is Constipation?
A person is said to have constipation if either of the following are true:
- Less than 3 bowel movements each week
- Bowel movements containing stools which are hard and/or dry, which makes this difficult to pass from the body
Constipation is a very common gastrointestinal condition that affects over 42 million people in the US alone. Common side effects of prolonged constipation include hemorrhoids and rectal prolapse. Long-term constipation also increases the risk for cardiovascular disease in older adults.
Finding the Connection Between Constipation and CKD
To help determine if there was any link between constipation and chronic kidney disease, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Memphis VA Medical Center teamed up for a study of over 3 million United States veterans with healthy kidney function. The subjects were examined in 2004, 2006, and then again in 2013.
According to an article in Newswise, the study concluded that, “patients with constipation had a 13% higher likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease and a 9% higher likelihood of developing kidney failure.”
Gut health is important for CKD patients, and not just because of the risks associated with constipation. Researchers also believe that some of the uremic toxins that have been linked to the progression of chronic kidney disease in some patients can originate in the gut bacteria.
How to Prevent Constipation and Promote Good Gut Health
Activities for preventing constipation and improving gut health are similar. You should do the following in order to help reduce the chances of suffering from constipation as well as creating a healthier gut.
- Eat a well-balanced diet with beans, fresh fruits, and vegetables included.
- Increase your fiber intake. This promotes healthy bowel movements and stimulates the growth of the good gut bacteria. High fiber foods include apples, blueberries, navy beans, pears, and dates.
- Consume prebiotic foods. These foods contain fiber or complex carbs that the body itself cannot digest. The bacteria found in your digestive tract break these down and use them for energy.
- Avoid skipping meals. Eating throughout the day keeps the food moving through your digestive system. If you skip a meal, this process stops, causing your body to retain the wastes longer than it should. This not only causes constipation but can also mess with the healthy balance of gut bacteria.
- Stay hydrated. Getting the recommended amount of 64 ounces (8 cups) of water per day will help keep things moving well through the gut.
As you can see, constipation is a very common digestive issue for many Americans. What you may not have known, however, is that there is a link between this common occurrence and chronic kidney disease. Be sure you are eating healthy and taking the proper precautions to keep your digestive tract and gut healthy in order to reduce the chances of constipation and other medical issues!