Sunday, December 6, 2009

Natural Constipation Relief Strategies You Should Know About

Natural Constipation Relief Strategies You Should Know About 

Constipation is a very common problem, but fortunately is one that can
usually be easily remedied with lifestyle changes. Ironically, one of
the biggest hindrances to your success may be not realizing you’re
constipated in the first place.

Conventional medicine typically defines constipation as fewer than two
or three bowel movements a week. But you should really be having one
bowel movement a day, and preferably two or three. So if you are
having anything less than one bowel movement a day, you should take
steps to relieve your constipation.

Regularity is so important for your health because without it, toxins
accumulate and are recirculated in your bloodstream. Constipation can
also increase your risk of hemorrhoids or fecal impaction, in which
your stool must be removed manually.

Fortunately, although constipation is very common, it is also usually
temporary and relatively easy to resolve.

What Causes Constipation?

One of the main causes of constipation is a poor diet -- one that
focuses on processed foods and sugar and lacks fresh vegetables that
are good sources of fiber. Fiber helps move bulk through your
intestines and promotes bowel movements.

Other common causes include:

• Laxative abuse: If you take laxatives over a long period of time,
you can become dependent on them. First you may require higher dosages
to have a bowel movement, and eventually your intestine can fail to
work properly.

• Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid gland is a common cause of

• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): This can cause spasms in your colon
that slow the speed at which the contents of your intestine move
through your digestive tract.

• Ignoring the urge to go: If you consistently ignore the urge to have
a bowel movement, for instance to avoid using a public toilet,
eventually you may stop feeling the urge.

Why Laxatives are NOT a Good Option

Americans spend three-quarters of a billion dollars every year on
laxatives, according to the American Gastroenterological Association,
which is not only a waste of money but a potentially harmful move.

One of the biggest risks of laxatives, especially stimulant laxatives,
is that your body can become dependent on them for normal bowel
function. When you stop using them, it takes a long time for the
activity of your bowel to be restored.

This is true even of senna or cassia laxatives, which are frequently
marketed as natural.

These laxatives, when used for a period of weeks or months, may even
decrease your colon's natural ability to contract, which will worsen
constipation. Further, overuse of laxatives can damage nerves, muscles
and tissues of your large intestine.

So if you absolutely must use a laxative, make sure it is only for a
very short-term period. And remember that laxatives do absolutely
nothing to address the underlying causes of your constipation. But
fortunately the natural tips in the next section do.

Relieving Constipation Naturally

If staying regular is a struggle for you, here are my top recommendations:

1. Get checked for hypothyroidism, especially if you’re a woman over
40. Constipation is one of the hidden symptoms of hyopothyroidism.

2. Try squatting. This is the best, natural position to help expel
stool from your colon and reduce your risk of hemorrhoids, and it’s
still the way many people around the world go to the bathroom. In your
home, you can get many of the same benefits by placing a stool near
your toilet to raise your knees, purchasing a special squatting device
to modify your toilet, or simply squatting on your own toilet.

3. Eat plenty of fiber-rich foods. Vegetables are phenomenal sources
of fiber, and I suggest eating those that correspond with your
nutritional type freely. For added fiber to help normalize your stool,
try whole organic flaxseeds. Grind the seeds in a coffee grinder, then
add a tablespoon or two to your food.

You can also try organic psyllium, which I personally use nearly every
day. Psyllium is unique because it's an adaptogenic fiber, which means
it will help soften your stool if you’re constipated, or reduce
frequency of your bowel movements if you have loose stools.

4. Exercise regularly. This helps stimulate circulation and intestinal
function, causing your bowels to move properly.

5. Take a high-quality probiotic. This helps to balance the good and
bad bacteria in your gut, which is essential for proper digestive
function. Probiotics are also useful in fighting IBS, which can
contribute to constipation.

6. Aloe vera and magnesium supplements can also be useful tools to
speed up your bowel movements.

If you integrate this advice into your lifestyle, you should be able
to virtually eliminate your risk of constipation and any reliance you
had on laxatives. For one final tip, make sure you heed nature’s call.
The longer you ignore the urge to have a bowel movement, the more
water is absorbed from the stool. This makes it harder and ultimately
can make it more difficult to stay regular.

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