Let’s be honest, we all get a little bit stopped up sometimes. Maybe you’re in a 9 am meeting, and seriously regretting your delicious steak and potato Sunday smorgasbord. Maybe you’ve couched yourself for some much-needed rest and relaxation, and the whole “relaxation bit” just isn’t happening. Regardless of what you’re up to, when meals begin overstaying their welcome, things can get…uncomfortable.
Why am I feeling constipated?
Constipation can be caused by a number of factors including medications, dehydration, a poor diet, and couch-potato syndrome (physical inactivity).
Bowel movement schedules vary widely from person to person, from one to two times per week to three movements a day. For the most part if you aren’t experiencing discomfort, then things are moving along just fine. It is good to note that if it’s been three days and you’re still striking out in the bathroom, you might want to start drinking a lot of water as things can begin to harden up after three days.
When it’s time for action. What can we do to get things back on schedule?
Pharmacy-peddled “drainos” can be a little intimidating. You may be wondering if there are more homeopathic options out there. For those of you also inclined to wait it out, fear not, here are three natural, readily available, and most importantly: gentle, alternatives.
1. High Fiber Foods
High Fiber Foods are a great way to safely and gently alleviate constipation. Artichokes, avocados, split peas, regular old peas, lentils, black beans, lima beans, brussels sprouts, blackberries, raspberries, pears, pearled barley, and oatmeal are all great natural sources of fiber.
2. Psyllium Husks
Blonde or black psyllium husks are utilized as bulk-forming laxatives that promote regularity without the risk of increasing your indigestion (aka, gas). They can be used as a one-off to ease constipation or incorporated into a healthy diet as a daily digestive aid.
How does Psyllium work?
Psyllium works by soaking up water in your gut with the consequence of easier and more gentle bowel movements. Because of this it is really important to drink a lot of water when ingesting Psyllium, which we all know is a good thing to be doing anyway.
How much do I need to take?
Studies have shown that 7-40 grams per day, in 2-4 divided doses is an effective dose for constipation.
Magnesium, an essential mineral, may be your new secret weapon when striving to be more regular. Magnesium works by stimulating muscle contraction and peristalsis throughout the intestine. Much like our plant buddies psyllium, magnesium also works to soften bowel movements through hydration. Consequently, this is another remedy that requires drinking lots of water.
How much do I need to take?
The RDA of elemental magnesium is 400-420 mg/day for men, and 310-320 mg/day for women, in their diets. If you’d like to increase your uptake of this essential mineral: try eating more legumes, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, seeds, and nuts, or taking a dietary supplement. It’s important to note that tolerable upper limit for elemental magnesium in a supplement form is 350 mg. Larger doses sometimes recommended for short term relief but should be used with caution as larger doses of magnesium may cause gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Unless you’re taking a new medication, if your find yourself parked at constipation station more often than you’d like, you may want to consider a few lifestyle changes.
1. Drink more hydrating liquids. I use those words because for some of use, the struggle to drink water is real.
- Try keeping a zip lock bag full of lemon and lime slices for an easy flavor boost.
- Keep liquid Stevia or honey at your desk and add a few added drops for instant limeade/lemonade.
- Whenever you need a feel good moment, herbal teas like hibiscus tea, rose tea or chamomile tea are great hydrating teas that don’t contain caffeine. Again, these can be modified with a citrus twist, or a little drop of sweetness.
2. Make those fiber rich foods a new dietary staple!
3. Try picking up an exercise routine. Even walking just 10 to 15 minutes a few times a day can help the digestive system to function optimally.