It’s a natural law of every creature on earth. We take nourishment in and the waste must go out. That’s the way we were made to function. But, what happens when we don’t function normally?

When you feel bloated, uncomfortable, you try to go, and nothing happens. And sometimes, when you do finally go, it’s painful. That’s when you need to educate yourself on the remedies for constipation.

Constipation will happen for a number of reasons. Lack of exercise, medications, stress, artificial sweeteners and a diet low in fiber and liquids (mainly water), can all contribute to constipation. An underactive thyroid, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes and cancer, could also cause constipation. As we get older, we’re more likely to experience constipation. Older people in general, are more sedentary. (Lacking physical activity)

Constipation is not an illness, but it can be a big problem. When a person has three or fewer bowel movements in a week, they can be considered to be “constipated.” The stool can be hard, dry and painful to pass.

We’ve all experienced constipation at one time or other. Usually, it only lasts for a short time and it’s not serious. But when it is, people are at greater risk for developing chronic constipation, which can lead to fecal impaction. If the fecal impaction is not removed, the colon may become overly widened or the bowel can become completely blocked. These conditions would require emergency surgery to remove the impaction. If the bowel was injured, that part would probably have to be removed.

Some people believe they have to have a certain number of bowel movements every day or else they're constipated. That’s a common misconception that’s not true. What’s "normal" for one individual could vary from three bowel movements a day to three a week.

You'll know if you may be constipated when you:
• Pass fewer than three stools a week
• Experience hard stools OR
• Strain excessively during bowel movements

Why suffer that way, when there are remedies for constipation that can keep you from the problem? There are many things you can do to avoid constipation. First of all, include more fruits, vegetables and grains in your diet, which are high in fiber. A diet low in fiber plays a role in constipation. Insoluble fiber, which passes through the body, gives stools bulk and a soft texture, which makes them easier to pass. Foods high in “insoluble fiber” include whole grains, fruits, wheat bran, brown rice, whole grain bread and vegetables. Prunes and figs are other fruits that are very helpful in the fight against constipation.

Fiber supplements are available, and the one I prefer most is Psyllium husk. This can be taken in capsule form or mixed with water or juice. Of course, there are over the counter remedies for constipation, which include fiber supplements like Metamucil.

You can avoid bloating and gas by gradually adding fiber to your diet. The key point I want to stress here though, is to be sure to drink enough water when taking these fiber aids, otherwise fiber can have the opposite effect. You could actually become more constipated.

Lastly and possibly most important, make sure you drink enough fluids. Mainly, drink plenty of water. This is definitely one of the remedies for constipation and may help some people with constipation almost immediately. Fluids make bowel movements softer, which in turn, makes them easier to pass.

Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages and caffeinated beverages like coffee and cola drinks, which can actually cause dehydration.

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Steve is a Naturopath, researcher, author and health consultant in Florida, who shares his knowledge of herbs, vitamins and supplements, helping many people who were not able to find relief from "traditional" pharmaceutical treatment.

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