Sunday, 17 April 2011

Move Along Please

No point in trying to fancy it up with euphemisms - this post is all about poo. 

Lying in bed causes bowel movements to slow down. Add opiate painkillers and dehydration into the mix and you create the perfect conditions for concrete guts.

Here are some tips on natural laxatives from my favourite naturopath, goddess of goodness Rebecca Edwards.

Increase your fluid intake. This means drink plenty of water – herbal teas count towards your daily fluid but caffeine is diuretic. If you let yourself become dehydrated your body just doesn’t have excess water that it wants to excrete. Hence faecal matter becomes very small, dry, hard and difficult to expel. Drinking lots of fluid ensures that you have a nice bulky stool. This may sound like something that you don’t want, that might block you up, but its actually part of the mechanism of excretion. Your digestive system is effectively a tube of muscle. As a bulky stool travels through it stimulates stretch receptors in the walls of the large intestine, causing a wave of contractions called peristalsis. So you need plenty of water to bulk up the stool to keep it moving and push it out.

Make sure you get plenty of soluble fibre. Fibre attracts water into the large intestine

Flax seeds are an excellent supplement to avoid constipation. Soak them in water. You’ll see they go all gelatinous and gooey. The same thing happens when you cook okra – it goes all slimy. It’s that gooiness that you want. Mucilaginous things like flax seeds, slippery elm, psyllium husks or okra are all what we call bulking laxatives because they attract water into the stool and bulk it up.

Bran is often mentioned but it’s a bit drying. It’s insoluble so it doesn’t attract water into the stool in the same way.

Stimulant laxatives are supplements that stimulate the contraction of muscles by causing irritation. Senna is a well-known example. You can take in a tea, such as Laksetee or a tablet. It’s useful for an emergency like being laid up in hospital.  It is not advisable to use stimulant laxatives long term because they will eventually make your bowel lazy.

Liquorice is a mild natural laxative that is not irritating.

Rebecca always recommends making sure that you are getting sufficient magnesium. Magnesium is involved in muscle fibre relaxation which is necessary for peristalsis - the contraction and relaxation of the large intestine. Magnesium is good for lots of things. Its relaxing effect on the musculoskeletal system in general means that it helps us sleep well. There are several ways of taking it. The best way is in food: it’s in dark green vegetables, nuts seeds and legumes. These should be a major part of everybody’s diet but unfortunately they tend to be superseded in favour of convenience foods. You can take magnesium as a supplement in tablet or powder form, or as an oil that you spray onto your body or by adding Epsom salts to a bath. If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of tablets that you’re taking, there are lots of ways to get magnesium.

For an appointment with Rebecca Edwards call: 020 3075 1006


Sally said...

Thanks for the good advice Lily and Rebecca.
How about CHIA seeds - when soaked for a few minutes they make a gel.
Can be added to fruit juice or muesli.