Hi Friends, how are you all doing?

Am good too. Just a lot on my mind right now but I am excited too. Will share more details of it once I concretize the plans but right now, it is an absolute chaos, I swear. I am putting a lot of efforts into it, to use my experience and nutritional expertise, for a new something. Wish me luck!

Anyways, today I want to talk to you about laxatives. Why laxatives? Because if one has digestive troubles and 75% of my customers DO have them (before they start with me), laxatives seem to be their only option and an alternative to spending long hours on a toilet seat (which can result into piles for many, unfortunately).

So, here we are today discussing laxatives. Is it safe? Does it help? Let’s see now.

What Are Laxatives?

Simply put, laxatives are medicines that help treat or prevent constipation. Ideally, they should be used only if the lifestyle changes that we are supposed to be making before starting laxatives, do not help enough.

There are many OTC varieties available in medical shops ad even grocery stores today. Sometimes, even doctors prescribe a certain kind.

We can categorize laxatives into 4 main kinds:

  1. Bulk-forming laxatives – The most common kind. These work by increasing the bulk/weight of stool and pushes the bowel movement. e.g. ispaghula husk. These work slowly but are the safest of all
  2. Osmotic laxatives – These absorb more water from body and help soften stool and make the bowel movement easy
  3. Stimulant laxatives – These kinds stimulate our gut-muscles for better bowel movement. These are fast-workers.
  4. Softener laxatives – Making the stool soft and ease the bowel movement

These come in various forms such as powder, pills, syrups, suppositories etc. One needs to read the packaging carefully to understand the best way and time, to take any laxative.

There are even some natural laxatives such as aloe, prunes, castor oil etc however one should exercise caution even with these.

In general, drinking adequate water is also very important as laxatives can cause dehydration.

Are Laxatives Effective And Safe?

It depends from one person to the other (like everything else) as to which kind is your best bet but generally people start with bulk-forming ones because:

  • They don’t require prescription
  • Are considered safe in general
  • Are easily available

It is always a good thing to talk to a physician or a gastroenterologist before one moves from the bulk-forming laxatives to the other kinds. In heart-patients, it is critical.

In fact, it is important to make that visit before you start on any kind. Your nutritionist could help you too, as a diet change can help you tremendously.

Should One Take Laxatives?

If you deal with constipation and bloating on a daily basis, most likely it is because:

  • Your meals are not well-balanced
  • your fibre intake is low
  • you lead a sedentary life and do not have a regular physical activity included in your day
  • you are not drinking enough water
  • you are stressed out

If one seeks a permanent solution, without a dependence on laxatives (unless there is a medical reason for it), one needs to sort all these above-mentioned factors out.

There are better ways to treat indigestion and constipation, trust me. Using laxatives on a daily basis can be harmful because:

  • the body gets used to it and stops making an effort on its own
  • your gut-health gets affected and gut-health means immunity too
  • laxatives can have side effects – such as too much gas, cramps and bloating etc
  • dehydration is a major concern if one is not careful
  • electrolyte-imbalance in body is always a risk

What Could Be Done Instead?

It is advisable to:

  • increase fibre consumption on a regular basis
  • drink plenty of water
  • exercise regularly
  • increase wholegrains and whole foods in diet
  • reduce consumption of junk food and refined flours

I have kept today’s post very simple and to-the-point. Hope you found it useful. Do share around if you wish and do join me on Instagram, for regular stories on Health, Nutrition and Fitness…and the motivation to keep at it. I feel social media is a great learning platform if we use it wisely.

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace