Constipation ranges from annoying to future health complications. Some people live with constipation their whole adult lives and take medication without fixing the original cause. Other people get this just occasionally. Constipation if left untreated can lead to more serious health problems such as IBS, diverticulitis and diverticulosis.
Constipation is usually caused by a diet low in fiber, inadequate water intake and a sluggish digestive system. This doesn’t mean you have to turn to a vegan or vegetarian diet, it just means you need to add more high fiber foods to your diet. A diet that is high in animal food, dairy and white flour can be the cause of constipation in many people
Current research says that we need between 25 and 35 grams (g) of fiber per day. If you were to add up all of the fiber you eat every day, you would most likely fall far short of the recommended intake. All animal foods such as beef, pork, chicken and dairy products have no fiber or very little, and cheese can cause constipation since it is binding.
Medication can help in the short term or for those occasional times, but prolonged use and reliance on laxatives can cause more constipation in the long term. If your body gets used to these laxative medications, it could become necessary to always need them just to go to the bathroom properly. There is a time when medication might be needed; you just don’t want your body to have to rely on laxatives all of the time.
Building a better digestive system
You have to start by building up the good bacteria in your digestive system, this way your food will be better digested. To start, you should get a very good probiotic; this can be a good brand of yogurt like Greek yogurt or a probiotic supplement. The better yogurts and probiotic supplements meet the standards and have the live good bacteria. Miso and other fermented foods are is also good at helping build a healthy digestive system.
Eat more fiber by substituting high fiber foods for the low fiber foods. Instead of white bread or buns, use whole wheat. Instead of white rice use brown rice and try whole-wheat pasta for a change. Make soups or buy soups that are higher in fiber such as lentil, green pea, split pea and vegetable soups. Be aware that the sodium content of canned soups can be quite high. Eat fruit for desert or yogurt with fruit.
Increasing the amount of fiber you eat per day isn’t that hard to do. One medium apple has 4 grams of fiber and a medium pear has 6 grams of fiber and both are helpful relieving constipation. Also dates, figs and prunes are high in fiber and natural remedies to relieve constipation. To learn more, please read How to Build a Healthy Digestive System.
Natural Constipation Relief
Drinking a lot of water will help constipation. Water is very important in keeping your body cleaned out and running smoothly. If you eat a diet of mainly animal foods, then you need to drink more water than if you were eating more of a vegetarian diet. Fruits and vegetables have a lot of water in them already, which reduces your overall need to drink water.
Exercise is also important in alleviating this problem. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise, just something to get your body moving again. Walking is fine for this. The more exercise you do, the better your metabolism becomes which aids your body in elimination.
Prune juice is excellent to relieve constipation since it is one of the best stool softeners Mother Nature offers.
Coffee can be a natural reliever of constipation since it is a natural laxative. Many people say they become constipated when they quit drinking coffee. That is because the body has become used to the laxative effects of the coffee.
You can also try other natural digestive aids like Swedish bitters. Some of these contain the herb senna, an herb and a natural laxative. Follow the instructions and do not use this product longer than the instructions say to.
Many people find relief from constipation by mixing honey with blackstrap molasses.
If after about two weeks you are still having this problem, you should see your doctor as there are other reasons for constipation that are not diet related.
If you plan to add more high fiber foods to your diet, don’t overdo it. Do not eat several bowls of oatmeal and brown rice in one day. That can cause discomfort if your body is not used to so much fiber. You should slowly add more high fiber foods to your diet. Adding more high fiber foods to your diet isn’t going to work overnight, it could take two weeks to make your feel right again. But it will help in the long term.
© 2009 Sam Montana
Helpful articles and books:
12 Days to Dynamic Health by Dr. John McDougall
Digestive Tune-Up by Dr. John McDougall