You are mistaken if you think constipation is just a physical health issue. It causes mental distress that impacts the quality of life. Many individuals do not want to discuss it, feeling uncomfortable. But prolonged digestive discomfort can seriously affect the functionality of other organs.
Various factors contribute to this condition and slower bowel movements, poor digestion, food that lacks fiber, medications, physical or mental illness and age related issues are the main reasons behind chronic constipation. The symptoms of constipation include passing lumpy and hard stools with a sense of incomplete evacuation or being blocked.
Chronic constipation could be treated with laxative medications. Laxatives ease the movement of food in the digestive system, causing you an easy evacuation. You don’t have to rely too much on the medications. The natural laxatives are as much effective as the prescribed medications.
How Do the Laxatives Work?
Laxatives are the substances that stimulate the bowel movement by accelerating the intestinal transit and function to loosen the stool. There are different types of laxatives that work in different ways to ease constipation. The following are the widely used laxatives.
- Stool softeners – These laxatives work to increase the amount of water absorbed by stool, making it soft and easier to pass.
- Intestinal Lubricants – These laxatives coat smooth layer between the intestinal linings and the stool, making the movements are smooth.
- Laxatives that Make Bulk Stool – These move through the digestive tract swelling and making a bulk of stool that is semi-solid.
- Saline Laxatives – These make the intestine to absorb more water in order to allow the bowel movement in a smooth manner.
- Osmotic Laxatives – These encourage the colon to absorb more water, making the bowel movements more frequent.
- Stimulative Laxatives – As the name implies, these laxatives stimulate the bowel movements making the passage of stool smooth and easy.
Laxatives will be available over-the-counter and they work effectively. However, consuming the laxative medicines for a longer period may cause changes in acid-base balance in the stomach and electrolyte disturbances in the body. In addition, they are potent enough to affect the functionality of vital organs such as kidneys, liver and the heart.
Here are a few natural laxatives that effectively work just like the medicines in relieving constipation.
1. Legumes – The Stool Softeners
Peas, peanuts, chickpeas and beans come under the family of legumes and they are known as the sound sources of soluble fiber. In addition, they contain a short-chain fatty acid known as butyric that acts as a natural stimulative laxative that softens the stool and improves the bowel movements while increasing the regularity of stool evacuation.
2. Apples – The Stimulative Laxatives
Apples stand in the front row when it comes to alleviating the constipation issues, thanks to its high fiber content, pectin in particular. Pectin acts a natural stimulant laxative by speeding up the food transition to the colon. Also, it increases the number of good bacteria in the gut while increasing the digestive health as a whole.
3. Chia Seeds – Laxatives that Add the Bulk to Stool
Chia seeds are the power-house of soluble fiber. Daily consumption of soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a slippery gel that makes the stool pass through the colon without any difficulty. It also adds bulk to the stool while improving the frequency of evacuation.
4. Flaxseeds – The Intestinal Lubricants
Flaxseeds, in general, are a good source for healthy nutrition and the most recommended food option by the doctors. The seeds are rich with omega 3 fatty acids that are essential for better metabolism and for the other bodily functions. The laxative properties of these seeds increase the stool frequency. The soluble fiber reduces the transit time of the food during the digestion process and adds bulk to stool.
5. Leafy Greens – The Saline Laxatives
Kale, cabbage and spinach are the effective natural means to increase the frequency of evacuation. The nutritional values are dense in the leafy greens and they are known for the water and fiber content, two of the most important properties that are required to prevent constipation in seniors. The leafy greens come under the saline laxative category. They increase the amount of water absorbed by the intestine to make easy and quick bowel movements.
6. Prunes – The Osmotic Laxatives
Prunes are best known for relieving constipation and reputed as the must diet for the people who are suffering from constipation issues. Apart from containing the goodness of fiber, they offer the alcohol known as sorbitol which plays the role of osmotic laxative. This makes the colon to absorb more water content and add it to the passing stool. People of all age groups could consume prunes and they are among the best natural laxatives out there.
Kiwi fruit, oat bran, olive oil and senna could be added to your diet routine to fight against chronic constipation. On top of all these natural laxative, make sure that you consume enough water. This is the most important intake in order to avoid confronting constipation.
As constipation is mostly observed in the elderly, make sure that your elders are provided with the best care in every aspect of their life. Timely health check-ups and medical assistance along with good care could help them to avoid issues such as constipation.