Constipation to be sure is not a glamorous topic to discuss. But it causes straining, pain, bloating and discomfort. Constipation means your bowel movements are difficult or happen less than normal.
Bowel movements vary between persons. Some have bowel movements three times a day. Others have them once or twice a week.
The complications of chronic constipation include hemorrhoids (swollen veins in the anus), anal fissure (torn skin in your anus), fecal impaction (hardened stool that gets stuck in the intestines, rectal prolapse (intestines that protrude from the anus.
Constipation may be caused due to
- changes in your usual diet
- eating alot of dairy products
- irritable bowel syndrome
- not being active
- under active thyroid
- not enough water or fiber in the diet
- nerve and muscle problems of the digestive system
- colon cancer
As you can see the complications can cause a lot of discomforts. So it would be wise to use natural laxatives for better digestive health.
The Latin word ‘Laxare’ means to ‘loosen.’Laxatives can be food, medication or a compound which either loosens the stool or induce bowel movements. There are different types of laxatives.
- stool softeners
- bulk producing substances
- hydrating agents
- castor oil
We will delve into each type of laxative to get a more detailed information.
Almonds, bananas, apples, apple juice, beets, blueberry, cranberries, grapes, dates, fenugreek, peaches, oranges, mangoes, tamarind, strawberry, prunes, tomatoes, walnuts, olive oil, yams, figs, kale, and persimmons are some of the foods which have laxative properties. They are very effective in preventing constipation, rather than treating it.
They are also called as surfactants. They cause fats and water to penetrate the stool and makes it easier for it to move down the digestive system. They can be used for those suffering from occasional constipation.
They make the stool bulkier and retain more water. Some examples include dietary fiber, broccoli, and apples.
They hydrate the intestines and soften the stools. They can be grouped into saline laxatives and hyperosmotic agents.
They make the stool slippery, so it easily moves down the intestines. Mineral oil is the best example for lubricants.
It works on the mucosa and alters water and electrolyte secretion.
They create a wave of contractions that pass along the colon which propels the stool along with it. They can be quite dangerous.
This is used for patients with advanced illness. It is commonly used to treat patients with opioid-induced-constipation.
You would be amazed to know that chewing gum sweeteners have alaxative effect. Sorbitol is used in certain chewing gums, and it is poorly absorbed by the small intestine. Weight loss can occur with too much of sorbitol intake. You should know this fact if you are using artificial sweeteners.
Be Warned! About Dangers Of Laxative Abuse
People have started to use laxatives for weight loss purposes. This maybe termed as laxative abuse. People especially young women and also a high percentage of men try to control their food intake to reduce weight gain. The use of laxatives has become a quick fix for this problem.
There are many health problems associated with laxative abuse. They include
- Water retention
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Alternating diarrhea and constipation
- Weight loss
- Weight gain
- Cardiovascular complications
- Acid/alkaline base changes
- Inability to produce enough digestive enzymes.
People suffer from serious gastrointestinal complaints after taking laxatives. After the laxative treatment,they become suddenly uncomfortable. They have a bloated feeling of carrying excessive fluids in their digestive tract.
After taking laxatives the body rebounds by holding onto all the water, it can get. This may lead to short-term weight gain, edema and a slowdown in the metabolism.
Over the counter bulking agents come up with unpleasant side effects. Synthetic fibers or mineral oils can reduce the body’s ability to absorb drugs and medicines. Lubricant laxatives absorb fat-soluble vitamins from the intestine and reduces certain vital nutrients.
Foods As Laxatives
So if you are truly suffering from constipation.It would be wise to make changes in your diet. You can use foods as laxatives, they are natural and do not have any side effects.
To solve the problem of constipation naturally, you should eat foods that are rich in fiber, add foods that have laxative properties and remove inflammatory foods that cause constipation.
Get 25-40 grams of fiber per day from natural foods. Many high fiber foods act as natural laxatives. Synthetic fibers which you get from processed high fiber bars, smoothies, shakes, and dairy, might not be that useful. Here are some foods which are best natural laxatives
- Aloe Vera
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
- Probiotic foods
- Green leafy vegetables
- High fiber fruits and
- Coconut water
Aloe Vera juice is an effective remedy for gastrointestinal problems. Health experts say that it is a potent and effective laxative. The juice makes the stools softer because it gets absorbed by it.
Aloe Vera contains minerals, enzymes, vitamins and electrolytes that have the ability to heal the gut. It contains anthraquinones a compound that has laxative properties. It increases intestinal water content, increases processes that break down food and stimulates mucus secretion.
Aloe Vera juice strengthens the intestinal muscles and eases constipation and irregular bowel movements. It helps to normalize acid/alkaline pH balance and encourages thegrowth of good bacteria.
However women who are menstruating, pregnant and lactating should avoid taking aloe Vera juice internally.
When combined with liquid Chia seeds form a gelatinous substance that can easily move through the intestines. Chia seeds absorb the water in the intestines and swell up. If you consider Chia seeds to relieve constipation, drink lots of fluids. This will regularize your bowel movements.
It contains 6-12% of mucilage. What is mucilage? It is a slimy compound which gives temporary protection to the entire digestive tract. It provides bulk and softness to the stool.
In order to enjoy all these benefits, you should crush, grind or break the flax seeds. You can grind it in a blender or food processor. It would be wise to consume it immediately because the nutrient oils will oxidize and go rancid. You should drink plenty of water when you consume flax seeds to relieve constipation.
Researchers at Kings College in London scoured different research studies and found probiotics slowed gut transit time, helped soften stools and also increased the number of weekly bowel movements.
You can include foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha and probiotic yogurt in your diet to boost your stool health. It is best to buy organic dairy products as they would ease digestion.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Leafy veggies like spinach, lettuce and cabbage are rich in dietary fiber. These wonder veggies are also rich in magnesium. It is an electrolyte and can soften stools and remove water from the gut.
High Fiber Fruits
Berries are a sweet source of constipation remedy. You can mix a bowl of plain berries with low fat whipped cream. You can relish them along with the cereals. Dried fruits such as dates, prunes, raisins and apricots are great sources of fiber.
Prunes contain sorbitol, which is a natural laxative. Plums, pears, and apples are good sources of fiber. The fiber is present in their edible skins. Dietary fiber can be grouped to soluble and insoluble fiber.
The soluble fiber gets fermented in thecolon and produces bulk. The insoluble fiber absorbs water and helps easy exit of stools.
This can be used as a best natural laxative for treating constipation. It maintains healthy electrolyte levels, clears out urinary tract and prevents dehydration. Coconut water is a great alternative to drugs and other processed compounds.
It not only relieves constipation but also cleanses your bowel. Consumption of coconut water should be limited to boweltolerance. Over consumption may result in loose stools.
Best Home Remedies To Relieve Constipation
Olive oil is one of the effective and safe remedies to cure constipation. Olive oil acts as a lubricant and helps the stools to move easily out of the body.
So how would you go about? Mix one tablespoon of olive oil in your orange juice, or even in your coffee. Drink it first case in the morning. This will lubricate the digestive system and prevent constipation.
Add olive oil to your fruits and vegetables and enjoy. You get double benefit out of this. Drizzle olive oil onto a wedge of lemon or add it to your coffee in the evenings. This will lubricate the intestines throughout the night.
Black strap molasses is derived from cane sugar. It is thick and dark. It is high in calories and has a strong taste. Regular molasses is pure cane juice which is boiled to get crystallized sugar. The specialty of black strap molasses is that it undergoes the third boiling. This product contains some vitamins and minerals, especially the magnesium.
Magnesium plays an important role in muscle function.Therefore, it acts as a natural laxative. The entire digestive tract is one long muscle.
You can add blackstrap molasses to your cereals and tea. Add 2 tablespoons of molasses to a½ cup of warm water. Drink it before going to bed to prevent constipation. You can add blackstrap molasses to honey, peanut butter, prune juice, cayenne pepper and garlic.
Baking soda works well for constipation. It is a bicarbonate and encourages air to come out through one way or the other. This action relieves stomach pain. It re-alkalizes the stomach, neutralizes the acid and helps the things pass easily through the gut.
Mix one teaspoon of baking soda in a½ cup of warm water and drink it quickly in one go for best results.Have a word with your doctor before using baking soda.
It is a natural mineral and was extracted from the waters of Epsom, England. It can be consumed orally to relieve constipation. Add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt to half a cup of water.
Stir it with a spoon. Add some lemon juice to improve the taste. Drink the solution in one sitting. You will have abowel movement very soon.
Mint And Ginger Tea
Mint and ginger are very effective in treating constipation. Peppermint contains menthol, which has an antispasmodic effect. It relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract.
According to herbalists,Ginger has a warming property. It causes the inside of the body to warm up. This action speeds up sluggish digestion. Have a hot cup of mint and ginger tea to have a problem free nature’s call.
Take about 1 inch of ginger, peel it and mash it. Take few mint leaves and crush it with your fingers to release the natural oils. Keep these on a strainer. Pour boiling water over it. Allow it to stand for 5 minutes and then enjoy your tea. This is one of the best natural laxatives.
According to University of Maryland Medical Centre, dandelion is very effective in treating digestive problems. Dandelion root is a gentle laxative and has diuretic qualities. It also promotes healthy bacterial function.
Boil the woody parts of the plant. Add one teaspoon of chopped dried dandelion root to about 8oz. of boiling water. Boil for 5-10 minutes. Strain it through a sieve and drink your dandelion tea. You can drink about 3 cups of tea per day when you suffer from severe bouts of constipation.
A 15-minute brisk walk can help the foods move quickly through the intestines. After a heavy meal try to move around instead of hitting the bed. The lively movement jumpstarts the digestive process. Long periods of sitting can result in the sluggish colon and may cause constipation.
Experts advise you to drink 11/2 to 2 quarts of water a day to keep the system hydrated. Eat a well-balanced diet with sufficient fiber. Be active and exercise regularly and attend nature’s call as and when you feel it.
It is best to go in for natural laxatives and remedies to prevent and cure constipation.
Using natural laxatives is a good method in regaining your health balance. These are less likely to cause side effects or dependency. Its effectiveness is as good as medications, but the impact on the body is more on the positive side.