Regularity is not something most of us worry about – until it disappears that is! Occasional and recurrent constipation can have a disruptive effect on a person’s life. (The chronic version may indicate a more serious condition.) Changes in diet and adding some traditional home remedies can produce beneficial results.
Over the counter laxatives are extremely effective for quick relief. However, many of them have a caution on the labels - ‘If taking for more than seven days, consult a physician’. The problem is, it seems, the digestive system can become dependent on them. Put another way, it takes a bit of effort to get back to a more regular situation the natural way.
Prunes are a traditional remedy and they've developed an undeserved reputation in recent times. They are treated somewhere between distaste and humour, as something unpalatable, consumed only by the elderly. True, they assist in the digestive process, but when you think about it, so do most unprocessed nutritious foods.
Growing up in England in the 40’s and 50’s we kids loved stewed prunes and custard – it was a special treat. They were un-pitted and a favorite game was to collect your pits on the edge of the bowl and play Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief - until the last pit then you'd know what you (or your husband) would be. We didn’t know or care what regularity or constipation meant.
countries it’s often an option at buffet style breakfasts. No sniggering at
great food in those places! I like them with a bit of kefir on top - reminds
me of the custard. (Pity they’re pitted, I’m still trying for Rich Man!)
Epsom Salts are very effective but they fall into the same category as over counter products - the same caution about a seven day limit is generally on the packaging. However, it's incredibly cheap by comparison and there's no challenge in choosing between one of many products.
Water consumption is important, of course, and it's an on-going debate - the most common advice seems to be eight 8 ounce glasses a day. This has always struck me as counter intuitive because a 260 pound person may be able to handle that amount but at 120 pounds, they may feel like a fish after all that intake. True, some experts have started to use a formula based on body weight, but the results still seem high.
Personally, I have to really concentrate to consume 6 eight ounce glasses a day. It’s an important matter though, because the right amount of water is key to regularity.
Maybe even more important is proper electrolyte balance. It could be that because of the bad reputation attributed to salt, some people may be sodium deficient. The problem then becomes that more of the water passes straight through, there being insufficient sodium to draw it into the body to form adequate electrolyte. That could lead to a lack of water available to the digestive tract for proper processing of food and elimination of waste.
If you feel
you could have imbalanced electrolyte you may need to get professional advice to
ensure your diet provides the right amount of minerals and vitamins.
Currently I favour two tablespoons of olive oil, followed by a cup of coffee with a tablespoon of black strap molasses stirred in, both before eating breakfast.
I visited an internist who, after a hands on physical recommended more fruit and vegetables and she also told me to start using Metamucil. It contains psyllium husk which is soluble and non-soluble dietary fibre. I was adding some ground flax seed to cereal on some days and I found that it sometimes brings the problem back. I think it may be because you can actually take too much fibre so care is needed. Epsom salts can soon take care of the matter.
Experimentation is the word and it may take some time to find the right combination for each individual. For a more graphic treatment of the subject of regularity and a listing of home remedies click here