Natural Ways to Get Your System Moving Again
When you're feeling, to put it politely, unmoved, bran muffins and coffee aren't your only remedy options. Try these gentle ways to relieve constipation.
Some people are more likely to experience a bowel slowdown than others. Women report being constipated more often than men, and people with diets high in processed foods and low in fruits, vegetables, beans, and other fiber sources also deal with this intestinal issue.
If you're feeling irregular or are using the bathroom notably less than you normally do (which is the actual definition of constipation), take heart. There are many natural ways to get your body back on track.
Don't skip meals. Eating stimulates the reflex to keep things moving. Breakfast is particularly important, because that's what starts your digestive juices flowing every day.
Make friends with fiber. Switch to whole wheat bread, and make sure you eat at least five servings of vegetables and two fruits per day. Make these changes gradually—introducing too much fiber at once can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
Drink plenty of water. Six to eight 8-ounce glasses per day will help soften things up.
Set a regular toilet time. The best time may be the morning. After you eat breakfast, your digestive system knows it's time to start working again and is usually ready to make a movement within a half hour. But if you can't go after 15 minutes, don't strain; try again later.
Use a footstool. Propping your feet with your knees bent while you sit on the toilet will straighten the angle of your bowel and help you pass stool more quickly.
Take a breather. Calming breaths help relax the digestive tract. Focus on how your stomach moves as you inhale for a count of four, and exhale. Do this twice daily for 15 minutes. Or try yoga two or three times a week. The breathing is similar, and you'll benefit from the exercise.
Get things moving with movement. The reasons still aren't completely understood, but exercise stimulates bowel function. A half hour three times a week might be enough to eliminate constipation.
Pinpoint the problem. Animal studies suggest that acupuncture may spur contractions in the colon, moving your bowels. If your episode is minor, you could be helped by a single treatment; chronic sufferers may need about 10. You can search for an acupuncturist at aaom.org.
Acupressure may help, too. Using your index and middle fingers, apply firm pressure on the outside of your leg, about three inches below the kneecap, for 5 seconds and then release for 10 seconds. Repeat five times.
Try a natural laxative. If all else fails, try a natural laxative such as milk of magnesia, a glycerine suppository, or prune juice. Sometimes even a warm cup of broth will help your bowels move more quickly—another reason to keep it stocked in your pantry.
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