Constipation is one of those topics that doesn’t come up too often during conversations with family or friends since it’s not the most comfortable subject to discuss. While it may not be a popular topic, constipation has an impact on many of us (affecting women and the elderly more commonly than any other group) but is a complaint that can be eased or avoided with some natural help and attention to our diets. Not sure if the symptoms you’re experiencing are constipation? Generally speaking you’re constipated if: bowel movements (BM) become difficult or are not frequent (one or less times a day, extreme constipation is two or fewer times per week), you strain during a BM, or you do not completely evacuate your system when having a BM. If any of these symptoms sound like something you are experiencing or if you’re looking to avoid constipation altogether, follow these 5 Steps to Avoid and Alleviate Constipation.
1. HYDRATION’S ROLE IN CONSTIPATION:
There’s a reason we’ve listed hydration first in the 5 Steps to Avoid Constipation! Having the recommended eight 8 oz glasses of water each day has its benefits beyond clear skin, more energy, better sleep, and improved mood; it can also improve your digestion and keep your gastrointestinal tract functioning properly. No matter the water content in the food you are ingesting, if you are dehydrated the odds of experiencing a delayed or painful BM are high. Why? After food is processed in the small intestine, it travels to the large intestine/colon. When the body is dehydrated our large intestine attempts to remove all available water from the stool resulting in hard stools that are difficult to pass. Proper hydration is so important to breaking down food in our systems as it helps to not only soften food but it also lubricates our intestine and encourages healthy movements. How do you know you’re getting enough fluid? Aside from the long standing recommendation of a minimum of eight 8 oz glasses of water daily, most experts say that letting your thirst be your guide is a good indicator of what’s right for you, although once you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Try to stay ahead of your thirst by drinking water throughout the day and ingesting foods that have high water content as well. Once you find you aren’t thirsty throughout the day, you have found the right amount of water for you.
2. HERBAL REMEDIES FOR CONSTIPATION:
Hanna believed in keeping your body’s wastebasket clean in order to not only avoid constipation but to also be sure your body is absorbing nutrients properly and functioning properly. According to Hanna, if our colon is blocked then garbage is building up in our bodies and to avoid this, we need to cleanse the system annually. Hanna’s Bowel Cleanse Kit is an effective and safe way to cleanse the bowels and maintain healthy digestive system function. With Digestive Enzyme™ (D.E.), Turmeric, Fennel, and Mover®capsules, along with Black Walnut Hull tincture, this kit contains herbal products that Hanna believed in and saw work for people with constipation complaints.
Looking for constipation relief from an herbal product that isn’t a part of a kit? Mover from Kroeger Herb Products is what you’re
looking for. With a blend of Yellow Dock, Onion, Sage, and Wahoo Bark, Mover has been helping ease the complaint of temporary constipation and is most effective when combined with a diet that is high in fiber and hydration. Mover is not designed to be used long term for chronic constipation and is instead an effective remedy for constipation that occurs due to the common causes (dehydration, travel, stress, too much dairy, etc.). Mover is an effective herbal remedy for constipation and, while it does not need to be taken as a part of the Bowel Cleanse Kit to provide relief and movement, Hanna did recommend cleansing the system to ensure good health. Keeping our bowels moving is an important aspect of good health; cleansing the digestive tract brings vitality to the system.
Other recommendations from Hanna include Dandelion Root tincture, Hydrangea Root tincture, or tea made from peppermint, gentian, or fennel as well as whole leaf Aloe Vera gel which acts as a natural laxative and assists with digestive complaints but should not be used long-term to treat chronic constipation.
3. HOME REMEDIES FOR CONSTIPATION:
We love the suggestions for good health left to us in Hanna’s books and there’s some great remedies for constipation. Two of our favorites:
- Boil orange peels in 2 cups water for 15 minutes; allow to cool then drink the juice.
- Simmer flax seeds for 30 minutes in 1 cup water then allow to stand where it will remain hot for 1 to 2 hours. Add 2 tablespoons of the flax seeds to 2 cups boiling water then boil down to 1 cup. Once this happens, pour the mixture into a mug and add honey to taste and the juice of half a lemon. Drink the entire cupful at bedtime, swallowing all the seeds. Drink this once weekly or every 4 days as needed.
4. FOODS AND DRINKS TO AVOID TO KEEP CONSTIPATION AT BAY:
Constipation can occur due to the things we ingest and that includes fluids. While you may be aware that too much cheese (or dairy) can slow your digestive system, maybe you weren’t aware of the causes of dehydration due to alcohol or caffeine. That cup of coffee may help to get your system moving every now and then but in reality (especially for those suffering from chronic constipation) more harm than good is occurring since the caffeine is robbing your body of water content. A similar story is true for alcohol. Having an occasional drink isn’t going to harm your system but moderation is key for good health and a digestive tract that is hydrated and moving properly. Aside from cheese, many experts suggest avoiding ingesting red meat daily and instead only having it a few times a week as well as avoiding fried foods daily. The amount of unhealthy oil in fried foods can cause the system to slow and could, in the case of having fried foods multiple times a week, cause constipation. If you are craving oil, try incorporating more healthy oils into your diet like an Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) supplement or Coconut, avocado or flax oil in a smoothie or on salads.
5. FOODS TO HELP YOU AVOID CONSTIPATION:
It’s the same story wherever you go for a healthy body… eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and make sure a good portion of them are raw. In the case of avoiding constipation you can narrow down the long list and count on including leafy greens, fibrous fruits, and other fiber rich foods in your diet. Dr. Ozoutlines the 50 most fiber-rich foods though some of our favorites are prunes, apples, blackberries, strawberries, kale, squash/pumpkin, artichoke, Brussels sprouts, quinoa, wild rice, oats, and beans (navy, kidney, black). Try to purchase only organic foods from the list and be sure to incorporate them into your daily meals to get the most benefit.
Want to learn more about your digestive tract and keeping your system moving properly? Take a look at our Learn section with a great article about Colon Health and, like us, you can always turn to the great remedies and advice from Hanna in her books.