Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints resulting in 2.5 million doctor visits annually. Certain medications, lifestyle choices, and deficiencies in our diet can affect our bowel health, but luckily there are some easy steps we can take to eliminate constipation.
Let’s look at some of my most successful recommendations supporting proper elimination.
PRUNES (a.k.a. dried plums)
Not only do they taste great, but these fiber-rich fruits also feed our gut with friendly bacteria and produce a short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid, which supports a healthy colon. Try bite-sized prunes as they are juicy and delicious. Prunes also help you feel full, increase energy, support cardiovascular health, and help reduce blood pressure.
Consuming dietary fiber found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes is one of the best ways to relieve constipation.
Some fiber-rich foods include fruits such as berries, oranges, pears, apples, and tangerines. Vegetables include carrots, squash, yams, leafy greens, and broccoli, and some legumes are beans and lentils. Nuts and seeds are also excellent sources of fiber. Try almonds, walnuts, chia, hemp, flax, and sunflower seeds.
A common reason for constipation is low bowel motility. Motility is when our nerves stimulate our small and large intestines to assist our body’s rhythm in moving things along in the digestion process and, later, the elimination process. To relax your bowels and assist your body with bowel movements, the following dietary supplements are helpful additions to a balanced diet:
- Probiotics support our gut’s microbiome and regulate inflammation, immune function, and digestion.
- PGX® is a fibre supplement made from konjac root, xanthan gum, and sodium alginate. It is a popular option for our fibre intake.
- Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is a vital nutrient that, in a pinch, can help loosen stool. Eating fruits rich in vitamin C or taking a high-potency supplement will help relieve constipation.
- Magnesium oxide or citrate can act as a laxative in the colon and draw water into the intestinal tract, softening the stool and promoting a smooth bowel movement.
Another reason that constipation can occur is low physical activity. Moving your body is another way to help speed up the digestion process, as it increases the activity in your intestines. You don’t need to start a complex workout routine to speed up your digestion process, but incorporating more walking into your day can work wonders on bowel health.
Another culprit of constipation is dehydration. When our intestines are too dry, the bile can’t move as efficiently through our system. Drinking adequate water, fruit juice, or other hydrating liquids will significantly support a more regular, fluid bowel movement. Remember, drinking coffee and alcohol can dehydrate you, so drink plenty of water.
I hope my patient recommendations help set your body up for success in its natural rhythms of digestion and elimination, and bring more ease to your life.