Summer is finally here which means the time has come to not only look our best but feel great as well. Constipation is undoubtedly one of the biggest evils of our modern-day lives, causing great discomfort and even hindering our desperate summer-body weight-loss efforts. According to the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), more than 4 million Americans suffer from constipation annually. They further found that an exorbitant $725 million is spent on laxatives every year despite there being a range of natural remedies, like the following, available to keep you regular this summer.
Up your fiber intake
Adults require between 20 and 30 grams of fiber a day to remain regular according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. There are numerous superb sources of fiber that you can incorporate into your diet to ensure that you meet the minimum daily requirements. While the fiber found in chia seedsand flax seeds is considered to be more effective than the fiber in fruit and vegetables, indulging in dark green vegetables such as kale, spinach, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli will provide you with a plethora of nutrients as well as some fiber. Remember to drink some extra water along with your fiber or you may risk becoming severely constipated if you don’t.
Drink more water
Enough nutrient-dense food and drinking 4 quarts of pure, clean water will increase the bulk within your intestines, leading to regular bowel movements. Although you can supplement a basic water intake with fresh juices, tea, and soup. Being properly hydrated will not only keep you regular but will better your overall brain and body function as well.
Did you know that increased stress levels can cause constipation? High amounts of stress changes hormone and neurotransmitter production which can directly affect your bowel movements. One way to effectively decrease your stress levels is, to engage in regular meditation which has shown to reduce the prevalence of various IBS symptoms, including constipation. By lowering your stress level you will not only become more regular but will also be an overall happier, healthier individual.
Have a hot drink
In summer we generally tend to drink a significantly decreased amount of hot drinks but if you want to be regular, make a point of it to start your day with one. A quart of hot water first thing in the morning has a distinctive bowel-loosening effect. Other hot drinks to consider include herbal tea, warm water with lemon juice and even dandelion tea that is known for its mild, laxative effect. Apart from keeping you regular, the L-theanine contained in tea will also help reduce your stress and improve your overall mood just in time to enjoy the sunshine and warmer weather.
Mild exercise can go a long way in stimulating the muscles in the lower part of the digestive system, keeping you regular. When our bodies become latent, our digestive systems do too. According to Dr. Stephen Bickton, professor at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Center, exercise can contribute significantly in strengthening and toning your colon walls. When you move around and your heart rate is elevated, your colon muscles relax, making it a lot easier for your body to expel waste. The good news is you don’t have to attend a boot camp or run a marathon to reap some bowel-moving benefits. A gentle jog, trampoline or some vigorous walking is more than enough to do the trick.
Probiotics are king
Probiotics, such as those found in yogurt and other cultured food such as Kombucha and Kimchi, have long been touted for their ability to improve gut health and can even help keep you regular. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, probiotics can help the counter the imbalance in our gut caused by our modern diets and medication. Although there are a number of trustworthy supplements available on the market, nature always knows best so try to incorporate a range of fermented, gut-friendly foods into your diet on a regular basis.
Eat an apple a day
The fiber contained in the humble apple can go a long way in keeping you regular. Apples are an immensely popular all-year round, low glycemic fruit and can be enjoyed in a number of ways. Apples are also high in pectin which helps to bind surplus toxins in the body, making it easier to flush them out of your system. Apart from keeping you regular, apples are also extremely rich in flavonoids and antioxidants and may help reduce your risk of developing diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Munch on a plum or five
Plums or prunes often don’t get the credit they deserve for their ability to help keep you regular and boost your system with powerful antioxidants. According to a study in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, plums, prunes and prune juice can help prevent constipation and even reduce the risk of colon cancer. The natural sugar contained in prunes is a lot healthier than traditional sucrose, making them ideal to satisfy your cravings for something sweet. Their high fiber content, when mixed with the fluid in your body, is what helps keep you regular.
If you are striving to be more regular this summer the remedies outlined above can boost your efforts significantly. Although all these natural therapies are substantially more gentle on your system than fabricated laxatives it is important to never over-indulge in any of them, not even exercise and water. If you experience tremendous discomfort or pain it is best to seek professional medical assistance to rule out any possible underlying conditions.