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.
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
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
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.
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