Constipation is the number one digestive problem. More than a third of the population – particularly women are affected. Conventional medicine defines constipation as fewer than two or three bowel movements a week. One to three BMs a day are normal and healthy.
A poor diet, lack of exercise, a stressful, hectic lifestyle or emotional issues are usually the common causes. The problem is still a taboo subject for many people. But regularity is so important for our overall health because without it, toxins accumulate in the intestines and then get reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
The easiest solution seems to be just taking a laxative, but – especially when used frequently – they are not a good option. The body becomes dependent on them and looses or “forgets” its normal function. The watery elimination through laxatives can cause loss of potassium and therefore mineral imbalance. Please be cautious especially when laxatives contain Senna, Cascara Sagrada or Cassia, even though they are usually marketed as natural.
Basically the digestive function depends on the wavelike movements and contractions of the intestinal muscles. We can activate these functions in different ways. Not everything works for everybody, so try for yourself some of these helpful suggestions and see what works best for you.
Of course, eating plenty of fiber-rich foods, vegetables, salads and fruits is crucial. Add ground flaxseed or psyllium to your food and/or take a tablespoon of flax oil each day. Psyllium helps to soften the stool, but it also reduces frequency of bowel movements in case of loose stools.
Aloe Vera and magnesium can be helpful supplements also.
Drinking a large glass of lukewarm water, right after getting up in the morning, acts as a stimulant for the digestion. To improve the taste you can add small slices of ginger roots.
Probiotics and fermented food (Sauerkraut) and drinks (Kefir, Kombucha) help to reestablish the healthy intestinal gut flora, and are especially important after taking antibiotics or in cases of chronic illness or reduced immune system function.
The most important rule for healthy and regular digestion is: “External mobility creates internal mobility”. One of the strongest muscles in our body is the hip flexing muscle. This muscle tends to shorten because of our sitting lifestyle. Together with tensions in the back muscles it creates contractions in the whole lower back and abdominal area. It is important to know that this hip muscle also goes through the abdomen, from the femur to the spine and when it is contracted it creates blockages of inner organs as well as creates irritations of the nerves and blood/lymphatic vessels.
To “open” the abdominal area, carefully lie on a bed or firm table and let your legs hang down for a while. You should feel a comfortable stretching in your back and the groin area. This position can initiate an almost immediate urge to “go”.
Squatting is the best natural position to help evacuate stool from the colon and reduce the risk of hemorrhoids. It is still the way many people around the world go to the bathroom. In your home, you can do it by placing a stool near your toilet to raise your knees.
In chronic conditions of constipation, especially for women over 40, a thyroid check for proper hormone output is recommended. Constipation is one of the hidden symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Stress and a hectic lifestyle inhibit the function of our digestive system. Relaxing and sleeping stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system that is essential to digestion.
Finally, it is important for you listen to nature’s call. The longer you ignore the urge to evacuate, the more water is absorbed from the stool and this makes it more difficult to be regular.
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