Most people experience occasional constipation, but about 14% of adults suffer from chronic constipation (Basilisco 2013; Rao 2014; Quigley 2011; Jamshed 2011). These people often turn to laxative medications, but these drugs are sometimes ineffective and can cause troubling side effects such as bloating, diarrhea, and loss of bowel control. Moreover, laxative overuse may lead to dependence (Wang 2013; Leung, Rao 2011; Basilisco 2013; Pare 2014; Mayo Clinic 2014a).
For some, constipation can often be relieved without harsh laxatives by increasing fiber and fluid intake as well as physical activity (Rao 2014; Rush 2002; Attaluri 2011).
Others require more aggressive approaches using natural interventions to evacuate the bowels. These include effervescent magnesium and vitamin C powder, supplemental fiber such as psyllium, and probiotics. Other strategies can be helpful as well: avoiding foods that can slow gut motility (eg, eggs, meat, and dairy) (UU 2015b) and eating more foods with laxative properties (eg, prunes and kiwifruit) (Rush 2002; Attaluri 2011; Rao 2014).
Many older people dismiss declining bowel function as a normal part of the aging process and learn to live with unsatisfactory evacuation. But constipation should not be ignored. Severe chronic constipation can lead to problematic complications like fecal impaction and fissures (Basilisco 2013; Jamshed 2011; Rogers 2013; Mayo Clinic 2012).
In this protocol you will learn about the causes of constipation and how diet and lifestyle changes can help promote regularity (Rao 2014). You will read about new insights into the gut-brain axis, which links constipation to cognitive decline, mood disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases (Daulatzai 2014). This protocol will discuss the importance of intestinal microorganisms for digestive health, and how probiotic and prebiotic supplements may help relieve constipation (Quigley 2012a). You will also discover how supplements such as effervescent magnesium and vitamin C powder can help improve bowel function.
In some cases, constipation may be attributed to irritable bowel syndrome. Readers of this protocol may find additional insights in the Irritable Bowel Syndrome protocol.