Most of us have experienced the discomfort and, depending on the severity, intense pain of constipation. Whether it's a once in lifetime experience or an issue you wrestle with on a daily basis, it can tax your energy and reduce the quality of your life, vitality and health. It can be painful, causing bloating and pressure in the lower abdomen, and can be time consuming, causing you to spend far more time in the bathroom then you want or feel comfortable with.
While the causes of constipation can be as different as the person who suffers from it, immediate relief may be found by taking a natural route to keep things moving.
First, increasing fiber in the diet, as simple as it sounds, will help. Even a small handful of prunes or a small glass of prune juice can begin the process of loosening things up and getting them back on track.
Second, increasing liquid intake in the form of water will probably help. More people are dehydrated than actually realize it and even low levels of dehydration can contribute to constipation. Beware of hydrating yourself with sugary drinks or those with sugar substitutes as these may compound the problem.
After eating prunes or drinking pune juice, leave yourself some time for the fruit to act on your digestive tract. This may take up to an hour.
Simply beginning to slowly add more fiber in the form of daily intake of fruits and vegetables will help as well. Roughage, such as is found in green leafy vegetables, lettuce, kale, and broccoli rabe as well as fibrous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, act as a broom might, sweeping out the insides of your intestines. Fruit such as berries, melon, apricots, prunes, raisins and avocados will likewise cause the peristalsis (contractions) of your intestines to engage and make a clean sweep of your digestive tract.
Be careful of bananas, which can actually have the opposite effect--for example, binding you if you have diarrhea. Apples, apple juice, pears and pear juice are also excellent natural laxatives and, for those who can't tolerate the strong flavor of prunes, may be a sweeter and subtler alternative.
Exercise is a wonderful way of keeping your digestion on track. By moving your body and increasing your heart rate, you are also increasing the flow of blood and oxygenating your cells. This can jump start a sluggish metabolism and increase the natural rhythms of digestion and elimination. Even though it may seem overly obvious, doing abdominal work, such as crunches or simply contracting your abdomen repeatedly may also act as a sort of internal massage to get things going.
There are many breads on the market now which have added fiber and these can do a good job in boosting your ability to move things along. Bran is also excellent.
Finally, please don't forget about coffee. If you are not a fan of coffee, you can sweeten it and add milk to it, and think of it as medicine; it really is one of the most effective and natural ways of helping yourself in this area.
One of the most old-fashioned natural laxatives is castor oil - and while this is not popular now, using even just a teaspoon of olive oil may have similar beneficial effects.
Remember to consult your physician or health practitioner if you feel you are experiencing a problem that can't be addressed in the most basic ways. Certain pain medications may also induce constipation so take stock of all that you are ingesting and what the side effects may be.
Aimee Boyle has a blog at http://straightandnarrow.yolasite.com which she would like for you to visit. She is a regular contributor to EmpowHER in relationships, sexuality and health