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Constipation No More

January 3, 2009 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Several years ago, I was working as a consultant for a health food store. One day, a customer came in and started looking around. After circling the isles and inspecting a number of products, he cautiously approached me. The man spoke quietly and seemed a little embarrassed. Why? Because he was looking for something to help manage his constipation.

Constipation is a widespread problem. And it’s nothing to feel self-conscious about. It’s simply a message that our body is sending. The key is to decipher exactly what the message means.

Today I want to list a number of natural remedies for constipation. They’re all generally considered safe and non habit-forming. The reason for this is that they are not stimulant laxatives. Stimulant laxatives are the most severe type of laxative. They stimulate the muscles in the digestive tract in order to speed the flow of waste. The danger they present is that your body can become dependent on their “help”.

One Problem, Many Solutions

Here’s a list of some of the best options for dealing with acute (temporary) or chronic (long-term) constipation.

  • Increase you intake of fiber and fluids. If you add more fiber to your diet without adding more fluids, it may make your constipation worse.
  • Add more healthy fat to your diet. Fat can act as a lubricant to help waste flow through your body more efficiently.
  • Exercise. Aerobic activity, such as walking or jogging, is often a very potent aid in maintaining frequent elimination.
  • Probiotics. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that are most often contained in yogurt and other cultured foods. They are also widely found as nutritional supplements.
  • Extra vitamin C and magnesium. Higher levels of these valuable nutrients help to draw more moisture to the intestines and thereby allow for softer stools that are easier to pass.
  • Coffee. One of the most common natural laxatives in the world is coffee. It’s not appropriate for everyone but, it is often effective for energizing both the mind and the bowels.

Which of these remedies will work best for you? It depends on what is causing your sluggish elimination. In the case of the gentleman I mentioned above, the solution was probiotics. He was already taking fiber, drinking plenty of water, exercising and eating a higher-fat diet. For his body, the beneficial bacteria that a probiotic supplement provided were just the ticket. And science is now confirming my recommendation.

Studies on probiotics are being published fast and furiously.

Probiotics on the Rise

Medical reviews on constipation now include probiotics as viable alternatives. Studies are even being conducted on specific segments of the population, including women and children.

If you’re one of the many people that suffer from constipation, please do something about it. Eliminating regularly is an important aspect of a healthfully functioning body. And now you know that there are many natural options that can help address this particular message that your body’s trying to send you.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!

JP


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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Detoxification, Nutrition

One Comment to “Constipation No More”

  1. JP Says:

    Updated 06/27/16:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apt.13647/abstract

    Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Jul;44(1):35-44.

    Randomised clinical trial: mixed soluble/insoluble fibre vs. psyllium for chronic constipation.

    BACKGROUND: Fibre supplements are useful, but whether a plum-derived mixed fibre that contains both soluble and insoluble fibre improves constipation is unknown.

    AIM: To investigate the efficacy and tolerability of mixed soluble/insoluble fibre vs. psyllium in a randomized double-blind controlled trial.

    METHODS: Constipated patients (Rome III) received mixed fibre or psyllium, 5 g b.d., for 4 weeks. Daily symptoms and stool habit were assessed using stool diary. Subjects with ≥1 complete spontaneous bowel movement/week above baseline for ≥2/4 weeks were considered responders. Secondary outcome measures included stool consistency, bowel satisfaction, straining, gas, bloating, taste, dissolvability and quality of life (QoL).

    RESULTS: Seventy-two subjects (mixed fibre = 40; psyllium = 32) were enrolled and two from psyllium group withdrew. The mean complete spontaneous bowel movement/week increased with both mixed fibre (P < 0.0001) and psyllium (P = 0.0002) without group difference. There were 30 (75%) responders with mixed fibre and 24 (75%) with psyllium (P = 0.9). Stool consistency increased (P = 0.04), straining (P = 0.006) and bloating scores decreased (P = 0.02) without group differences. Significantly more patients reported improvement in flatulence (53% vs. 25%, P = 0.01) and felt that mixed fibre dissolved better (P = 0.02) compared to psyllium. QoL improved (P = 0.0125) with both treatments without group differences. CONCLUSIONS: Mixed fibre and psyllium were equally efficacious in improving constipation and QoL. Mixed fibre was more effective in relieving flatulence, bloating and dissolved better. Mixed fibre is effective and well tolerated. Be well! JP

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