If you find yourself experiencing constipation – never a comfortable feeling – you may want to think twice before reaching for the over-the-counter laxatives. A press release by the FDA warns of the potential dangers of these drugs, which have been linked to 13 deaths.
The FDA states that the danger of laxatives, specifically those containing sodium phosphate, occurs when people exceed the recommended dosage of one dose a day for at most three days. Along with the 13 deaths, 54 reports of serious side effects stemming from laxatives have been received by the FDA – and many more may be unreported.
While the FDA assures that taking the recommended dosage of sodium phosphate laxatives is safe, they also state, “all of them are potentially associated with serious side effects, such as dehydration and/or abnormal levels of electrolytes in the blood that can lead to serious complications, such as kidney damage and sometimes death.”
Specific warnings not to use laxatives without consulting a healthcare professional have been issued to people with kidney problems, heart problems, dehydration issues and adults over 55, as well as individuals on ace inhibitors, blood pressure medication or NSAIDS such as aspirin or ibuprofen, among others. Laxatives can be especially dangerous for children with the above-listed issues.
Natural ways to ease constipation
Luckily, nature offers a plethora of options to ease constipation and help you stay regular. The key to alleviating digestive distress, including constipation, is to eat a diet high in both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Most fruits and vegetables are high in both types of these fibers, so including a variety of types in your diet is important. Foods that are especially high in insoluble fiber, which will help if you are backed up, include beans, lentils, kale, collard greens, celery and carrots.
Bananas and prunes have also been traditionally used to ease constipation. Many people swear by prune juice for this very purpose – just make sure that you are drinking pure, 100 percent prune juice with no added sugars and additives (organic is optimal).
Flax seeds can also help, as can taking pure aloe vera – but it’s best to check with a natural health professional before going this route, as it is very potent, and a professional can best determine the right amount to take for your individual health.
Have you ever noticed that the urge to take a trip to the bathroom is infinitely stronger following a large cup of caffeinated coffee? This effect isn’t just in your head. Studies have shown that coffee stimulates that muscles in your gut and increases bile production.
To keep your gut healthy and ensure an optimal amount of healthy gut bacteria, which keeps your digestion running smoothly and will help to prevent chronic illnesses, add some fermented foods to your diet on a regular basis. Great choices include plain, organic yogurt and kefir, as well as homemade sauerkraut and kimchi.
Be sure to drink lots of water, at least half of your body weight in ounces each day. Many people find that sparkling water can help get things flowing and keep your digestive system functioning optimally. Remember, always buy unflavored, unsweetened sparkling or carbonated water, and add fresh fruit to give it some kick.
Dairy can back you up and only exacerbate constipation, instead of enjoying cheese and milk, stick to healthier options such as almond milk and nutritional yeast.
If you follow the above suggestions, and make high-fiber fruits and veggies a staple in your diet and add in some fermented foods, your days of feeling constipated should soon become a thing of the past.
-The Alternative Daily