You’re probably well aware that your body functions optimally when you look after it by ensuring adequate exercise, a healthy balanced diet and reducing stress levels. One of the side effects of not listening to your body is constipation. Not being regular can be caused by a variety of reasons, from dehydration to specific diseases.
HOW DO YOU KNOW
Being regular means different things to different people; however, if you experience less than three bowel movements per week, you could be constipated. Also, if you strain during bowel movements, or feel you haven’t quite got it all out afterwards, those are signs of constipation.
If you’re constipated for long periods of time, your body isn’t able to effectively get rid of all the waste and toxins. This could lead you to feeling sluggish, under the weather and even depressed. In fact, there is a definitive link between psychological health and gut health.
SO NOW WHAT
If you continuously suffer from constipation, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to make the lifestyle changes necessary. These changes include eating fibre-rich food such as fresh fruit and vegetables or high-fibre bran; ensuring you drink enough fluids every day; and exercising regularly.
If these changes aren’t effective, you may decide to use a laxative, but be wary of overuse and if the condition continues, consult your doctor to eliminate other possible causes (such as medication use or pelvic floor dysfunction).There are numerous laxatives available over the counter; however, it’s best to understand which types are best, as well as to understand that regular laxative use will only make your constipation worse in the long run, by causing your muscles to become lazy.
Bulk forming (fibre) laxatives are the safest and gentlest for your body and can be used long term. They absorb water, adding bulk and softening stools for easier passage; as well as promoting natural contraction of your intestinal muscles. Osmotic laxatives draw water from the body into the colon, which assists in making stools softer. It’s important to drink a lot of water when using bulk-forming laxatives. Stimulant classed laxatives (eg. containing senna) are relatively harsh and trigger contractions of the intestinal muscles. Only use these over the short term as dependence can develop.
If you suffer from an occasional bout of constipation, assess what’s different in your life from a routine, diet or exercise perspective so you can tie down the cause. If you need a little help, use a laxative every now and then to get back into a regular routine. If the condition continues and your interventions don’t help, consult your health care practitioner.
PLEASE NOTE: Products are ranked in decreasing order of potency. Products listed nearer the top of any particular health need are the most effective and have the most scientific research to support their use in respect of such health need. Multiple products, one from each bullet (•) can be combined with products from other bullets for added effectiveness, if needed, since products from different bulleted lines have different mechanisms of action. However, where more than one product is listed within a particular bullet (•), then only one of these products should be used, since all products listed within the same bullet share an identical or similar pharmacology (mechanism of action) for that condition. This is because whenever a particular condition is treated via multiple different mechanisms of action, the result is generally improved effectiveness. However, when products are combined that work via exactly the same mechanism of action, then no extra benefit is obtained.