April Newsletter

Constipation

Regular Ways To Stay Regular

There are few easy lifestyle changes that can help make your life more regular.

Drink more fluids every day. This means eight to ten tall glasses of water.

Make meals fibre-rich. Substitute whole wheat for white bread, brown rise for white. Experiment with different grains and beans. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Foods particularly good at promoting regularity include figs, prunes, blackberries, bran, almonds and apples. Avoid foods made from low-fibre, highly processed grains, such as packaged breakfast cereals, biscuits and pastries.

Monitor your magnesium. This mineral can have a laxative effect. Good food sources of magnesium include nuts, blackstrap molasses, whole grains, soya and seafood. If you do take magnesium supplements, most nutritionist agree that you should balance them with two times as much calcium. Aim for a total daily consumption of 1.000 to 1.200 milligrams of calcium and 300 to 500 milligrams of magnesium, whether you get it from supplements or food.

Stay active. Exercise encourages good bowel function. You do not have to run the London Marathon. Gentle exercises such as walking, gardening and yoga can do the trick. Try to produce some sweat.

Herbal Remedies

Psyllium ( Plantago Psyllium )

Psyllium seeds and their husks are a great source of natural fibre that is easily obtainable in commercial products. You can also buy powdered seed husks at health food stores and fore go the added sweeteners, dyes, and so on. Some practitioners believe the seed husks may lodge in intestinal pockets and cause irritation, forcing the intestines to contract and expel their contents.

Typical dosage: 1 tablespoon dissolved in ¼ litre of water or juice. Drink immediately, because the seed husks swell quickly, creating a sludge that is difficult to swallow. Follow immediately with another glass of water.

Flaxseeds ( Linum usitatissimum )

This bulking agent provides a significant source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, one that is missing from the typical diet. The seeds can be ground and added to cereal or smoothies, or sprinkled directly on food after cooking. Store the seeds in the freezer, because the oil in flax seeds spoil at even mildly warm temperatures.

Typical dosage: 1 teaspoon of ground seeds in ¼ litre of water or juice up to three times per day.

Papaya ( Papaya carica )

The tropical fruit contains proteolytic enzymes, making it a natural digestive aid. Make a tea of the leaves, or purchase papaya enzymes in chewable tablets or capsules at a natural or health food shop.

Typical dosage: take according to manufacture’s directions.

Cascara Sagrada ( Rhamnus purshiana )

Compounds in the bark of the cascara sagrada tree are so strong that the bark must be aged before it can be used safely. Cascara sagrada is an ingredient in some over-the-counter laxatives.

Typical dosage: up to two 400- to 500- milligram capsules per day; or ½ to 1 teaspoon of liquid extract per day.

Caution: do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding. Like all stimulant laxatives, it can cause laxative dependency.

Senna ( Senna alexandrina )

Among the strongest of the herbal stimulant laxatives, senna product can be derived from the seeds pods or the leaves; the leaves are considered safer to use. Because the compounds in senna are so potent, this herb is best used under the advice of a doctor or other qualified practitioner.

Caution: do not use senna if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you are taking heart medications, liquorice root, thiazide diuretics or steroids. Never use long-term.