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How To Treat and Prevent Constipation Naturally
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Oct 07, 2009
While some people can overcome constipation by eating large quantities of vegetables every day, simply eating more fiber is not a guaranteed solution for every person who suffers with chronic constipation.
What follows are several action steps that I have found to be helpful for most chronic cases of constipation:
- Ensure Adequate Intake Of Healthy Fats.
All of your cells, including those of your digestive tract and nervous system, require a constant influx of undamaged fatty acids and cholesterol to remain fully functional. If you don't ensure adequate intake of healthy fats, your nervous system and the smooth muscles that surround your digestive passageway - both of which are responsible for creating peristaltic waves throughout your digestive tract - may deteriorate in function.
Also, intake of healthy fats is necessary for optimal absorption of fat-soluble vitamin A, which is critical to building and maintaining a healthy digestive tract lining, which indirectly, is another key to promoting optimal bowel function.
Some healthy foods that are naturally rich in healthy fats include avocados, coconuts, olives, organic eggs, oily fish like salmon and mackerel, nuts, and seeds.
- Ensure Adequate Water Intake, Mainly Through Water-Rich Foods.
If reasonably healthy, your stools should contain just a few basic elements: fiber in the foods that you eat, microorganisms, digestive juices, and water. As these elements travel together through your large colon, water is reabsorbed into your blood, which allows the other elements to come together to form stools by the time they reach your rectal pouch.
If you do not ensure adequate water intake, by the time that waste materials reach your rectal pouch, it is likely that there won't be enough moisture available to create soft stools that can exit your body in comfortable fashion.
This does not mean that it is in your best interest to drink water all day long. Doing so can actually cause more harm than good, especially to your kidneys. The best action step is to eat plenty of water-rich foods, excellent choices being raw vegetables, steamed vegetables, and fresh fruits.
- Be Physically Active.
Being physically active is the most powerful way to keep your nervous system alert and healthy. And a healthy nervous system is essential to regulating healthy bowel movements.
Through the action of a pair of cranial nerves called your vagus nerves, your central nervous system works together with the nervous system that is built into your digestive passageway (your enteric nervous system) to promote healthy bowel movements.
- Raise Your Knees When You Have a Bowel Movement.
Your anatomical design is such that it is most natural to have a bowel movement when you are squatting. Sitting or leaning forward while on a toilet are positions that require more self-generated pressure within your abdominal and pelvic cavities to produce a bowel movement.
A practical and cost effective way to create a squatting posture while you are on the toilet is to bring your feet up onto a foot stool in front of you. If possible, lean forward slightly while your feet are resting on the foot stool to simulate a true squatting posture.
- Eat Substantial Meals.
When you eat substantial meals, the waste materials from each meal can travel together through your digestive tract, which makes it easier for the smooth muscles in your digestive tract to monitor and propel each bolus of waste materials. If you eat small meals throughout the day, it's harder for your digestive tract to create well formed stools.
Put another way, it's better to sit down two or three times a day and enjoy substantial meals than it is to graze on smaller meals all day.
- Avoid Specific Substances That Can Cause Constipation.
Synthetic nutritional supplements and opioids (pain-relieving medication) are the two most commonly used substances that contribute to constipation.
- Eat Plenty Of Plant Foods.
Fresh plant foods provide a wide variety of nutrients that can nourish the cells of your digestive tract. Just as importantly, water and fiber that are naturally abundant in fresh plant foods can contribute to the formation of stools that are comfortable to pass.
- Address Chronic Emotional Stressors.
Through the connection between your autonomic nervous system and your enteric nervous system, your emotions are strongly tied to the quality of your bowel movements. If you follow all of the other steps outlined in this article and continue to suffer with constipation, consider daily relaxation and/or meditation sessions to help promote a sense of emotional balance.
- Don't Ignore The Urge To Have a Bowel Movement.
When you have the urge to go, try not to put it off. Suppressing bowel movements will only put unnecessary burden on your digestive tract and nervous system. When both have worked hard to give you the urge to go, reward their efforts by going as soon as possible. Doing so will keep them alert and efficient.
Why is it important to overcome and prevent constipation? Because the health of your entire body depends in large part on a clean and well functioning digestive passageway. If your digestive passageway is blocked up and dysfunctional, you increase your risk of developing a wide variety of health challenges, including but not limited to the following:
Hemorrhoids - enlarged veins in the rectal region
Anal Fissures - cuts in and around the anal sphincter that can be extremely painful and difficult to heal
Diverticulitis - inflamed pockets of weakened lining throughout the colon that can cause significant abdominal discomfort
Endogenous Toxicosis - production of toxins from microbial action on undigested food and waste materials that remain in the digestive tract for longer than is normal
Please consider sharing this article with others who are not aware of how harmful chronic constipation is to overall health.
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