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The search for regularity

Don't be lulled into a false sense of security with laxatives

You have fewer than three bowel movements a week. And it is just painful going to the toilet.

Family and friends annoyed by your complaints of constipation suggest eating more fruits and vegetables to increase your fiber intake. Laxatives seem to help or do they ? The issue at hand is bigger than you think. You are not looking for a remedy, but for a long-term solution. Here are some reasons why fruits and vegetables are better than laxatives in your quest to achieve optimal bowel movement, and overall good health.

Lax with Laxatives ? Don't !

Laxatives are drugs often used to relieve constipation. Stimulant laxatives do this by increasing movement in the bowels, while osmotic laxatives draw water into the large intestine to make stools soft and loose, making them easier to pass out. However, the price you pay for consuming them is not merely the cost of buying these drugs.

Laxatives have side effects. Side effects from the stimulant laxative, senna, can be as trivial as urine discoloration, or as serious as breathing difficulties and worsened constipation. Side effects from bisacodyl, another stimulant laxative, include rectal bleeding and severe abdominal pain; from docusate sodium, skin rash; and from glycerol, persistent diarrhea.

Osmotic laxatives include lactulose, macrogols, and phosphates. Phosphates, in particular, pose great danger to health as serious kidney problems have occurred with their use, although rarely. Magnesium salts may lead to fainting spells, and lactulose can cause stomach pain, cramps and vomiting that require immediate medical attention.

Side effects may not occur in every person. However, they give an indication of the safety of laxative ingredients. Some drugs are made of poisonous ingredients that can damage the body. The laxative ingredient, danthron, was recalled in the United States because of its cancer-causing properties. laxatives can cause permanent damage to the intestines and interfere with the body's absorption and use of nutrients and medication.

Laxatives can also be habit-forming. Consuming them over long periods inhibits the body's natural ability to digest food properly, and can even contribute to colon cancer risk. So, one might be worse off after consuming them.

Wholesome plant foods

Unlike laxatives, fruits and vegetables ensure that we can consume the nutrients in them safely, because nutrients in plant foods exist in synergy with each other. To achieve optimum health, we should always consume nutrients like fiber with others, such as antioxidants, phytochemicals, and polysaccharides, in plant foods. It is also easier for the human body to absorb nutrients in plant foods than nutrients in their isolated forms.

Plus, as a result of their elaborate combinations of nutrients, plant foods perform many more protective functions in our bodies than laxatives, such as preventing illnesses like cancer and heart disease. One example is mucilage, a type of fiber in psyllium. It maintains colon health, prevents constipation and aids detoxification.

Wide nutrient variety in plants foods

Laxatives do not meet the human body's need for different types of nutrients that play different roles in protecting the body against diseases. The greater the variety of nutrients consumed, the better nourished the immune system will be.

Unlike laxatives, every plant has its unique make-up of nutrients. The wide variety of fiber sources amongst plants gives us an astonishing array of antioxidants, phytochemicals and polysaccharides. There are so many fruits and vegetables that we are truly spoilt for choice.

The American Institute for Cancer Research, American Dietetic Association and many other health experts also recommend plant foods over synthetic supplements for meeting our daily fiber needs, and to promote regular bowel movement. If you are not eating enough plant foods, health problems such as constipation are telling you that it is time to modify your unhealthy diet. So, make the wholesome decision to choose plant foods for good digestive health !


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