Bathroom troubles can be both discomforting and embarrassing, especially when discussing it with your doctor. But you should know that these are far from a rarity. Statistics show that irregularity is one of the most common forms of digestive issues, affecting roughly 42 million people in the United States each year.1 The good news is that there are plenty of ways to support regularity, and here are some of the top options.
When talking about natural laxatives, it’s important to understand that there are several different types. These include bulk-forming laxatives and stool softeners, which increase the amount of water the stool absorbs, to make it easier to pass. Determining what you need can be difficult, so it may be a good idea to consult with a doctor about the appearance of your stool to get some guidance.2
Kefir: This fermented milk product is rich in probiotic bacteria, which have numerous health benefits, including digestive and immune system support. Probiotics, in general, can promote regularity, and kefir has been proven to add moisture and bulk to stool.3
Castor Oil: Castor oil has been used as a natural laxative for decades. This is mainly due to the presence of ricinoleic acid. This induces bowel movements by increasing movement of muscles in the intestines.
Aloe Vera: Aloe vera may be associated with skin more than with the digestive system, but the gel (latex) of the plant has also been used as a natural laxative. The plant has compounds that both draw water into the intestines and stimulate the digestive tract.
Leafy Green Vegetables: Vegetables like cabbage, lettuce and spinach should be staples in your diet. These vegetables support regularity in a number of different ways. First, their nutrient dense nature means that you receive high amounts of the vitamins and minerals you need. They also have plenty of magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant that helps draw water into the intestines. These vegetables are also rich in fiber.
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On top of these natural treatments, you want to make sure that you are engaging the proper dietary and lifestyle support to maximize your regularity. For starters, you will want to make sure that you are well hydrated, but the single most important dietary component you want to make sure you are getting is dietary fiber. This is found in many different foods, but insoluble fiber is the main type that you are looking for. This supports regularity by drawing water into the stool in the large intestine. Eating regular fiber has other potential benefits as well, like:
Looking for fiber rich foods? Here are a few standouts:
If you are still struggling, you may want to consider getting supplemental support for your digestive process. Remember, digestive issues like constipation and other bowel issues often develop when the digestive process is abnormally slowed or halted. This means that reaching a norm is the ultimate goal (hence the name, regularity).
1. Higgins PD, Johanson JF. Epidemiology of constipation in North America: a systematic review. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2004;99:750–759.
2. Portalatin M, Winstead N. Medical management of constipation. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2012;25(1):12-9.
3. Maeda H, Zhu X, Omura K, Suzuki S, Kitamura S. Effects of an exopolysaccharide (kefiran) on lipids, blood pressure, blood glucose, and constipation. Biofactors. 2004;22(1-4):197-200.
4.Macfarlane S, Macfarlane GT, Cummings JH. Review article: Prebiotics in the gastrointestinal tract. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2006;24(5):701-14
5. Pereira MA, O'reilly E, Augustsson K, et al. Dietary fiber and risk of coronary heart disease: A pooled analysis of cohort studies. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(4):370-6.
6. Weickert MO, Pfeiffer AF. Metabolic effects of dietary fiber consumption and prevention of diabetes. J Nutr. 2008;138(3):439-42.
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