Constipation and our intestines
Working in healthcare for the last fifteen years has shown me the frequency and severity of constipation. Let’s face it: how on earth do we expect 20 – 23 feet of small intestine and 5 feet of large intestine crammed into our midsection to possibly work right 100% of the time? Not to mention, many other factors present in our everyday lives can play a role in the onset of constipation. Rather than run to the drug store for a heavy-duty laxative, I am going to advise you on a few natural solutions to reverse the troublesome and painful feeling of being constipated.
Why do we get constipated?
First, one of the big culprits of constipation is a lack of water which helps to push the stool down its intestinal path. In addition, if your diet is missing adequate fiber (an undigested substance), the intestines are lacking this help to dissolve the constipation and keeps things moving. Lastly, without strong abdominal muscles due to a recent surgery or an inactive lifestyle, your intestines may weaken and allow digested food to get ‘hung-up’ somewhere down the line.
So how can we treat constipation naturally?
- Drink more water. Statistically, 75% of the American population does not drink adequate amounts of water. Naturally, with the addition of water in your diet, stool will weaken and be less apt to harden inside the bowels. Not to mention, water consumption helps with the manufacturing of digestive enzymes that make your bowel surface a smoother ride for stool.
- Eat prunes. These foods are rich in fiber and include a substance known as sorbitol which is a magnet to water. In other words, as prunes progress through the digestive channels, they stimulate the stool to act as a ‘sponge’ with water and thus, move through the bowels more swiftly.
- Bananas. By eating bananas, you’re receiving potassium which works in a similar ‘spongy’ fashion as sorbitol.
- Vitamin A. This vitamin can be found in carrots or supplemental form and can stimulate the digestive process. In fact, it can dissolve food particles ahead of the bowels and thus, prevent future stool ‘hang-ups.’
- Magnesium. This mineral relaxes and creates an ‘unruffled’ bowel lining with the insertion of calcium. In other words, as stool passes, the bowel muscles are less likely to clench and narrow.
- Valerian Root. An herbal quick-fix that not only helps insomnia, but also, with the relaxation of bowel muscles.
- Eat your Omega 3’s. Consider this analogy: the texture of fish compared to the ideal texture you’d like your bowels to be. The more slippery the fish, the more slippery your bowels will be after consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Coconut Water. This liquid contains an ideal proportion of electrolytes which aids in weakening the stools and keeping the body hydrated.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. It is capable of stimulating the digestive process and breaking apart stool. In addition, it supplies the body with ‘good’ bacteria which helps to stabilize your overall gut flora.
- Yogurt. As long as you’re not intolerant of lactose, yogurt also provides the body with ‘good’ bacteria and aids in digesting your food. Not to mention, the texture of yogurt is smooth which is easier for the bowels to break down.
- Avocado. Due to its omega 3 fatty acid content, avocado is good at making the bowels a ‘slippery slide’ for digestive particles to travel upon.
- Pineapple. This fruit is rich in fiber, water content, and another digestive catalyst known as bromelain. Not only does bromelain help dissolve food particles, but it also helps with bile.
- Get moving. Let gravity and steady movements (jogging) nudge the bowels to stay in constant motion and press on full speed ahead.
*Always drink plenty of water when utilizing any of these above methods.*
Essential oils and constipation
- Fennel oil. This oil initiates digestion and behaves as a traditional laxative when consumed. It’s advised to dilute it with a carrier oil and rub it on the abdominal area twice a day.
- Ginger oil. With its ability to ‘turn-on’ digestion, this oil promotes peristalsis and helps with constipation. Dilute ginger oil with a carrier oil in a 5:1 ratio (drops to ounces) and rub onto the abdominal area twice a day.
- Lemon oil. Due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, this oil can both enhance digestion, as well as lessen any inflammation. Lemon oil can be diluted with a carrier oil and rubbed onto the abdomen or diffused for the inhalation affects.
- Peppermint oil. This oil suppresses muscle spasms due to its antispasmodic nature and in turn, creates a more relaxed environment for the bowels. Simply put, it can actually thwart constipation from happening. Similar to the above mentioned oils, dilute with a carrier oil (2:1 ratio – drops to teaspoon) and rub onto the abdominal area.
- Rosemary oil. As a muscle spasm reliever, it can energize the digestive system and keep things moving steadily along. You can either diffuse this oil or add it to lotion and massage to the abdominal area.
So there you have an overview on methods for treating constipation naturally. Here’s to living your best life ever! Feel free to leave me a comment or any insight you may have on this topic.