To better understand the natural remedies for constipation let’s cover what it is and why it is so ubiquitous in America.
Constipation is infrequent or irregular bowel movement accompanied by discomfort or pain when passing the feces. Our prehistoric ancestors did not suffer from this malady. Though traveling long distances or stress may bring constipation to otherwise regular people, the Standard American Diet (SAD) exacerbates the condition. Today’s diet, replete with processed foods, inflammatory oils, and sweeteners slows down the body’s expulsion rate by making feces harder, and thus more difficult to expel. Prolonged constipation may lead to hemorrhoids and anal fissures.
In short, the digestive system’s job is to absorb nutrients. The oral cavity and stomach chemically and mechanically break down the food so microvilli cells (and probiotic bacteria) in the 20-feet of small intestines may absorb the nutrients. Your large intestines then turn the undigested food matter into feces and re-absorb any excess water before this remnant is stored in the rectum for pending expulsion. The process of smooth muscle pushing your food through the digestive system is called peristalsis.
How fast is your peristaltic rate?
In the Western world, we have some of the slowest peristaltic rates. On average, we defecate once per day. The underdeveloped world has a faster peristaltic rates due to their higher intake of grains, fruits, and vegetables and less of the processed cookies, crackers, chips, candies, bread, pasta so omnipresent in the West. Ideally, you want to be having two (2) bowel movements per day. Anecdotally a great way to gauge your peristaltic rate is to ingest corn. Corn cannot be fully absorbed by the body so you will see its remnant in your stool. You ideally would like to see it go from mouth to toilet in less than 24 hours.
One could use OTC or prescription-based laxatives or stool softeners to alleviate constipation. But we at Naturopathic Earth always recommend using naturopathic interventions prior to pharmaceutical ones. The easiest natural remedies for constipation are relatively simple: eat more fibrous foods (preferable fruits and vegetables over grains), move the body more, and increase your intake of fluids and B vitamins. Here are some naturopathic approaches to alleviate constipation.
Increase your intake of dietary fiber. The ideal manner is fruits and vegetables high in fiber (but low in sugar). Raspberries have a whopping 9 grams of fiber per serving. Also, nuts and high-percentage dark chocolate contain 5 grams of fiber. Eating a diet full of seeds, nuts, and produce is an easy first step.
A preponderance of pathogenic gut bacteria over healthy, probiotic ones may be exacerbating your constipation. To alleviate this dysbiosis, increase your intake of prebiotic foods (which grown your probiotic bacteria naturally) or
fermented probiotic foods. Purchasing high-end refrigerated probiotic pills works as well.
Aromatherapy (Essential Oils):
Unlike more insidious maladies constipation is a condition that may be easily remedied without major changes to your lifestyle or diet. Simply by weaning off the processed foods and turning to a more Paleo-centric you will see quick changes. Also, “grease the skids” by taking frequent walks and just simply moving the body throughout the day.
A. Gregory Luna, double-certified Health Consultant
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