Regular bowel movements are an important aspect of your body’s overall health. Constipation occurs from lack of activity, poor diet, aging, pregnancy, and certain types of medications. It is an uncomfortable condition that makes you feel bloated and may even cause pain if your stool is hard or excessively dry. Consuming natural laxatives helps restore your body’s elimination schedule and reduce the discomfort of constipation.
What is a Normal Bowel Movement Frequency for an Adult?
Most adults have three or more bowel movements per week. If you do not go at least this often then the chances are good that you are suffering from constipation and your body could benefit from a cleanse product to restore function. Dietary and lifestyle changes help to restore the body’s regularity without turning to over-the-counter medications or colonics that may be harmful if used too frequently.
Benefits of Regular Bowel Movements
Regular bowel movements flush out toxins from the body and create a system-wide cleanse. Your body will function better and you will sufferer less overall health issues.
It is believed that a properly functioning bowel stands less chance of developing colorectal cancers or hemorrhoids.
What Exactly is a Laxative?
Laxatives are a remedy for constipation. A laxative can be a naturally occurring food or a chemical based concoction. They work by either softening the stool, creating bulk in the colon or stimulating the colon’s contractions. Some laxatives function utilizing a combination of factors.
The Dangers of Over-the-Counter Laxatives
Laxatives have become one of the most commonly purchased over-the-counter medications. Unfortunately, many are not safe and should never be used long term. They can frequently lead to dependency. Sufferers of anorexia and bulimia may also chronically abuse laxatives in an attempt to lose weight by not absorbing calories. Chronic use of oral laxatives interferes with the body’s absorption of nutrients and electrolytes, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Here are a few dangers of over-the-counter laxatives:
- Fluid loss/Dehydration
- Inadequate Digestive Enzymes
- Colon Damage
- Digestive Organ Damage
- Weight Gain
- Electrolyte Imbalances
- Base Changes in Acid/Alkaline
- Cardiovascular Problems
Water is the Natural Laxative Way to Relieve Constipation
Although you might be tempted to seek out a quick cure for your chronic constipation such as an over-the-counter laxative there are ways you can naturally assist your body’s elimination process. Your body was designed to naturally cleanse and detoxify itself. Improper diet and not consuming a sufficient amount of water slow down the body’s elimination process. Without sufficient lubrication, the body’s digestive tract slows to a standstill. One of the best ways to naturally relieve constipation is to amp up your daily water consumption.
Change your Daily Fiber Intake to Naturally Treat Chronic Constipation
In today’s fast-paced world, many of us are turning to fast food for a quick lunch fix and our diets have become less than ideal. Improving your diet by consuming fiber-rich foods will naturally treat chronic constipation. An adult should ingest between 25 to 40 grams of fiber per day. Large-sized men may need to consume more fiber to achieve active regularity. You should seek fiber from natural sources only and avoid synthetic fibers which are frequently found in commercial laxative foods such as smoothies, shakes, and high-fiber bars.
Stress, Inflammation, and Constipation
High levels of stress can lead to bouts of diarrhea followed by constipation. Diarrhea causes inflammation in the digestive tract which then leads to constipation. It is not uncommon for individuals who deal with stress on a daily basis to experience a never-ending cycle of diarrhea and constipation. Certain diseases such as Crohn’s disease also cause widespread digestive tract inflammation and make constipation even worse. Sufferers of such chronic disorders often require surgical intervention to remove segments of the colon that are badly inflamed and may have scar tissue.
Exercise to Encourage Bowel Movements
The colon functions during elimination by contracting and pushing the stool out of the body. Inactivity or sitting for long periods of time puts the body’s bowels to sleep. The contractions of the body’s digestive tract become mediocre and your entire system tract slows down or comes to a complete halt. Often getting up and walking is the best way to relieve constipation caused by inactivity. Daily exercise encourages the colon to resume its job and typically bowel habits return to normal.
Natural laxatives come in a variety of forms such as foods and herbs. They help improve the body’s digestive functions instead of hindering them like over-the-counter forms.
With the proper nutrients and hydrating fluids, your bowel frequency will be restored as the body naturally cleanses and detoxifies itself.
Here are 20 natural laxatives to help your body regain bowel regularity.
- Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds add much-needed bulk to your stool and are an excellent source of fiber. Interestingly, they treat not only constipation but also diarrhea. Flaxseeds have no significant odor or flavor so they make an excellent addition to may foods. Pancakes, smoothies, cereal, bread, oatmeal, and other baked goods are all great choices to place a few spoonfuls of flaxseeds. You can reap the health benefits while enjoying your regular diet. Flaxseeds are a fantastic source of fiber for your diet, but please remember to drink an ample amount of water when consuming the bulking seeds. The water helps reduce the likelihood that you will suffer from bloating, excessive gas, pain, hard stool, or constipation.
- Chia Seeds: Chia seeds have been heralded for centuries as a natural laxative. The small seeds naturally absorb water and swell inside your digestive tract. They are a great way to treat constipation as long as you drink plenty of fluids. Once the chia seeds expand inside the colon, they easily help stool move along and exit.
- Leafy Green Vegetables: The chances are good that since you have been a child you have heard to always eat your vegetables. Well, leafy green vegetables contain ample magnesium which improves your digestive tract. Magnesium is a natural electrolyte. It helps draw water from your digestive tract and soften stool. It also reduces painful colon spasms by acting as a natural muscle relaxant. When consuming magnesium-rich foods, remember that magnesium can also cause diarrhea so it is a balancing act in your diet. You will have to adjust your diet accordingly to determine exactly how many leafy green vegetables you can consume without suffering from stool that is too loose.
- High Fiber Fruits: Fruits contain fiber, water, and antioxidants which are all beneficial to the digestive tract. Some fruits such as apples and pears contain pectin which stimulates your bowels while adding water to make the stool softer and easier to pass. Figs, dates, and prunes have been used for centuries to increase dietary fiber and regulate the digestive system. They are also extremely filling. Melons and berries also boast a good amount of fiber, water, and create a full, satisfying feeling.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Organic, raw apple cider naturally detoxifies the body and assists the digestive tract in food digestion. It also provides a natural energy boost.
- Aloe Vera: Anthraquinone occurs naturally in aloe vera. It increases the water content in the bowels, creates mucus, and helps the intestines digest food efficiently by stimulating the colon’s natural contracting ability. Aloe vera is also a natural anti-inflammatory. When used frequently, aloe vera reduces yeast formation in the intestines and increases the colonization of good bacteria within the colon. Over time, aloe vera balances the gut’s pH levels to regulate acid and alkaline, which helps dramatically improve the body’s digestive tract.
- Probiotic Foods: Probiotics occur naturally in your gut and are considered good bacteria. The bacteria colonize in your digestive tract and help the body in all aspects of digestion. Certain foods and drinks such as kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, and kimchi contain beneficial probiotics.
- Coconut Water: Coconut water assists the body in maintaining electrolytes. It gives the system a natural hydration boost. It provides the body with 12 percent of the dietary potassium allowance. Excessive consumption of coconut water can cause loose stool, but when taken in moderation it aids in digestion and regulates bowel functions.
- Legumes: Peanuts, peas, chickpeas, beans, and lentils are all legumes. They naturally increase the body’s production of butyric acid which is a short-chain fatty acid that stimulates the bowels. Studies conducted by the Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Medical University of Warsaw in Poland found that butyric acid stimulates the mucus production in the colon which alleviates constipation.
- Castor Oil: Castor oil is made from castor beans and has been used for centuries by naturopathic doctors to alleviate constipation. Castor oil works by releasing ricinoleic acid into the body’s digestive tract which causes the colon to spasm and encourages a bowel movement. It also softens the stool making it easier to pass.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil helps lubricate the colon to make passing stool easier. It also stimulates the small intestine to speed up digestion.
- Rhubarb: Rhubarb contains sennoside A, which increases the water content in the colon and stool. It is also rich in fiber. As little as one cup of rhubarb contains 2.2 grams of fiber.
- Kiwi Fruit: Kiwi fruit is high in fiber and contains pectin to stimulate colon contractions. It speeds up digestion and also makes bowel movements easier and more frequent.
- Coffee: Many people enjoy a morning cup of coffee which rouses their bowels so they have a regular movement every morning. It encourages the colon to contract which facilitates a bowel movement. Researchers believe that coffee spurs the body’s gastrin hormone which naturally helps the body break down food and makes the colon contract.
- Psyllium: Psyllium is naturally derived from husks and seeds from the Plantago ovata plant. It absorbs water and rapidly forms a gel. The gel softens stool so it is easier to pass. It also increases the frequency of bowel movements.
- Oat Bran: Oat bran is made from the outer layers of oat grains. It is exceptionally high in fiber. One much (94 grams) of oat bran contains 14 grams of fiber.
- Senna: Senna is a herb that works as a natural colon stimulant. It activates the digestive tract to encourage the easy passage of stool
- Kefir: Kefir is a probiotic-filled fermented drink. In a study done by the Department of Gastroenterology at the Ege University Faculty of Medicine in İzmir, Turkey researchers found that daily consumption of kefir by individuals who suffered from chronic bouts of constipation improved the consistency of stool and regulated bowel movements.
- Artichokes: Artichokes are a fiber gold-mine. A small artichoke has about 10 grams of fiber. The entire artichoke can be consumed cooked or only eat the hearts if you prefer.
- Cauliflower: Cauliflower contains about 5 grams of fiber per cup. It can be cooked or consumed raw with a dip. Some people do have a hard time eating cauliflower raw because it can upset the stomach.
Natural Laxative Fiber Warning
Everyone’s digestive tract is different. Some individuals may have a difficult time consuming high-fiber natural foods, especially if their system is not used to such bulking agents. Initially, they may experience bloating, diarrhea, worse constipation, stomach pain, flatulence, acid indigestion, or other unpleasant physical problems. If you are not used to eating a high fiber on a daily basis then you should start out slow. Focus on each food and monitor its effects on your system. Often people have a hard time physically breaking down the carbohydrates found in certain foods.
FODMAPS and Constipation
Food molecules (mostly sugars) are known as FODMAPS, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. FODMAPS frequently make conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) worse. Individuals with sensitivity to FODMAPs should avoid them. Food such as artificial sweeteners, stone fruits, soybeans, some legumes, wheat, garlic, onions, honey, corn syrup, and dairy are all FODMAPS that may cause chronic constipation in certain individuals.
The body’s digestive tract is designed to function independently, but on occasion it may need a bit of assistance. A sluggish colon often benefits from the addition of natural laxatives to encourage it to function properly. Natural laxatives relieve and prevent constipation when used as part of a healthy diet.