Glossary of constipation terms

Anus
Bowels
Bowel Movement
Chyme
Colon
Dietary Fibre
Digestion
Enzymes
Gastrocolic Reflex
Gastrointestinal Tract (GI Tract)
Large Intestine
Nutrients
Peristalsis
Puborectalis
Rectum
Small Intestine
Stools
Toilet Phobia

 

Anus

The opening of the rectum to the outside of the body.

Bowels

The bowel is another name for the intestine.

Bowel Movement

Discharge of waste material (stool) from the anus - also known as defaecation or having a poo.

Chyme

A semi-liquid mass of partially digested food that is passed from the stomach to the small intestine.

Colon

This is another name for the large intestine. The colon extends from the small intestine to the rectum. Its main function is to reabsorb water from digested food as it travels through.

Dietary Fibre

Dietary fibre is the indigestible carbohydrates found in such foods as fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. There are two types of fibre:- soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. Both are important to the human body as dietary fibre helps to maintain optimal bowel movements.

Digestion

The process in which food is broken down into smaller parts which can then be absorbed by the body.

Enzymes

Protein molecules which act as catalysts to speed up chemical reactions. Enzymes in the digestive process aid the breakdown of food into nutrients which can then be absorbed by the body.

Gastrocolic Reflex

A natural reflex system that increases intestinal peristalsis after food enters an empty stomach encouraging the urge to have a bowel movement. This typically occurs after breakfast or the first meal of the day.

Gastrointestinal Tract (GI Tract)

The GI tract comprises of the whole digestive tract and includes the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), rectum and anus. This can be considered as a long tube extending from the mouth to the anus.

Large Intestine

This is another name for the colon. It extends from the small intestine to the rectum. Its main function is to reabsorb water from digested food as it travels through.

Nutrients

Nutrients are molecules which provide energy, help to repair any damage and aid growth. Examples of nutrients are vitamins and minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

Peristalsis

The muscle movement which propels food through the digestive tract.

Puborectalis

A band of muscle fibres that controls bowel opening. The puborectalis forms a sling around the rectum at its junction with the anal canal, and acts to hold the rectum and anal canal at right angles to each other except when ready to have a bowel movement.

Rectum

The last part of the large intestine which stores the waste material (stool) until it leaves the body through the anus.

Small Intestine

The part of the digestive tract that extends from the stomach to the large intestine. The small intestine continues to absorb nutrients from the digested food and can be up to seven metres long.

Stools

Stools are formed from the waste material that remains after food has been digested.

Toilet Phobia

Anxiety of having a bowel movement; sometimes spurred on by a fear of having a bowel movement in an unfamiliar or public place.

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