What do you do when you just can't go? Fortunately there are some solid options that can turn this plight around rather quickly. There are a number of things that can lead to bowel movement irregularity. The focus of this blog, however, will be foods and supplements/herbs to help restore intestinal motility.
Proper high fiber foods are going to be important to stimulate peristalsis and transit through the gastrointestinal tract. There is a caveat to this rule of thumb however, and that is that hydration must be adequate. Increasing fiber without proper water intake can be problematic and leave the problem worse that before. I always recommend for patients to drink about half of their body weight in ounces of water per day. This cannot be stressed enough and is paramount in overcoming constipation.
With that said, some of the top high fiber foods to combat constipation include:
beans, legumes, sweet potatoes, apples, pears, berries, prunes, avocados, chia and flax seeds, broccoli, squash and figs. These fibrous foods will enhance motility of the intestinal contents through the tract and out of the body with the help of adequate water intake. In fact, figs and prunes especially are known as natural laxatives and stimulate peristalsis of the small and large intestines.
Garbanzo beans are a type of legume that are high in fiber and help with motility.
Green leafy vegetables are also important for a variety of reasons. They are great sources of fiber, they have a good amount of magnesium, they have a high water content and they are nutrient dense (vitamins, minerals chlorophyll, phytonutrients.) Spinach, collard greens, dandelion greens and mustard greens are all great options.
Supplementally, psyllium husk is recommended as it contains ample fiber and has a laxative effect. Pectin, an apple fiber, is suggested as well. Magnesium is a mineral that helps alleviate constipation and aloe vera juice too.
Spinach is nutrient dense, has a high water content and contains fiber and magnesium.
When it comes to herbs, there are some key players that stand out. This is not by any means an exclusive list of herbs that help with constipation, but rather four that have anti-constipation effects. Those include: dandelion root/leaf, yellow dock, aloes resin as well as cascara.
The resin of the aloe plant comes from evaporating the latex component of the plant.
I believe implementing these foods and herbs can be a tremendous starting point for overcoming constipation. Many mentioned here are high in fiber, nutrient dense and help stimulate intestinal transit. Remember to stay adequately hydrated at about half of your body weight in ounces of water per day.
Dr. Seamus Allen
CFMP, DACBN, DC