The main causes of constipation are as follows: insufficient intake of water or other suitable liquids; lack of fibre in the diet; lack of raw fruit or vegetables in the diet; drinking too much coffee or tea; eating too many fried foods; consuming too many sugar- laden foods and drinks; and lack of exercise. One of these, or a combination of more than one, can give rise to constipation thereby having a negative effect on your health.
In lots of cases, the problem of constipation is not reported to the doctor at all because the patient is unaware of the problem. In cases where it is reported, doctors have generally responded by prescribing laxatives, stool softners, bulking agents or mineral oil. The first three bring about a dependency on a substance to cure a problem which could be solved naturally by paying particular attention to what constitutes diet; and mineral oil can remove essential minerals and vitamins from the body as a side effect of its use.
The first measure you should take to combat constipation is to make sure you are drinking 6-8 glasses of water or other suitable liquids daily. Water softens stools and aids their elimination from the body via the anus. Other suitable liquids can be fruit or vegetable juices which have no sugar added. Green, herbal, dandelion or ginger teas are also in this category.
With regard to your solid food intake, it is essential that you are getting enough fibre in the diet. An adult needs 20 grams or more (about an ounce) of fibre a day. Good sources of fibre are wholegrain bread, brown rice, potatoes with their skins, rye crispbreads, wholegrain breakfast cereals, natural green vegetables, fruits with their skins (after washing thoroughly in order to get rid of any preservative sprays). Fibre aids the excretion of digested foods from the body in a timely manner so they do not hang about inside and cause constipation.
Other foods which alleviate constipation are almonds, apricots, asparagus, blackberries, cabbage, carrots, cherries, figs, baked beans, french beans , kidney beans, leeks, lettuce, oats, oranges, peaches, plums. raspberries, red currants, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, swiss chard, tomatoes, garlic and unsweetened yoghurt. For more on this, go to my June 2013 post titled " Make Use of the Cleansers ". Foods and drinks to be avoided are fried foods, biscuits, cakes, tea, coffee, bananas, and both white rice and white bread.
Vitamin C taken to bowel tolerance (stop when diarrhoea occurs) can immediately bring relief from constipation. The latter taken in higher than recommended doses has proven to be safe. Magnesium oxide, up to 2000 mg daily, can also help. Psyllium husks taken as directed on the label can help combat a deficiency of fibre in the diet. The herb cascara sagrada increases the secretions of the stomach, liver and pancreas thereby aiding the breakdown of food. It also cleanses the colon and helps rebuild tissues. The herb senna increases intestinal movements and aids the removal of toxins from the body.
One adjunctive measure you should employ is to engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. This could be brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing or anything else that takes your fancy. Regular exercise aids digestion and the efficient elimination of waste materials from the body.