We all experience this situation on occasions, it’s embarrassing to admit: the strain of expelling waste that just doesn’t want to leave. For a variety of reasons, such as the typical Western society diet, dehydration, lack of exercise and some pharmaceutical medicines that constipate, people simply can’t eliminate without pain. This is because the stools become dry, hard and pretty much like cement inside the body.
Aside from the basic premise of preventing things from getting to that condition, by drinking plenty of water or at least consuming water-containing foods and beverages, it’s wise to include natural substances in the diet that will ease the exit. By this, it can be meant to both lubricate the passage (from the inside only—relax!) and render the stools less solid.
Increasing the water content of the waste is one excellent method. Bulking up, literally in this instance, by soluble fiber in the diet using whole grains is the most-frequently used and recommended means. It is not only easy to consume, since there are so many products available ranging from cereals and breads to psyllium seeds or their husks, either whole or powdered. Simply drinking plenty of water alone is even easier, although frankly, many people simply get bored with this most basic and often flavorless beverage. Sometimes the more simple the remedy, the less attractive it appears, which is unfortunate. People need to see bells and whistles on something before they pay attention to it.
Another method of loosening up the internal cargo is to consume non-soluble fiber. Examples of this include tough leafy foods like cabbage, kale, and other cruciferous vegetables. The downside of these foods, no matter how good they are for a variety of reasons other than digestion, is their effect on anyone with hypothyroidism, being goitrogenic unless well-cooked. Additionally, anyone with a history of gallbladder disease is recommended to avoid all cruciferous foods.
Other good candidates for natural stool softening, however, are virtual no-brainers in this category. To put it as delicately as possible, they have the appearance of that for which they are intended. Aside from the gross-out factor of even thinking about this when you eat such foods as cooked, mashed pumpkin or winter squash, these substances are full of fiber, easily digestible, and loaded with water even before being cooked. Just try not to think about their purpose and enjoy your pumpkin pie.
The pumpkin, a staple of autumnal tables as well as a popular Hallowe’en decoration, contains a great deal of magnesium, something crucial to constipation’s relief. Aside from its abundance, as well, of antioxidants and beta carotene, this fruit is filled with enough other great nutrients to make it a must for any person’s diet (see http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/pumpkin.html) at any time of the year.
For plugged-up pups and pussycats, vets frequently recommend the addition of a small amount of cooked pumpkin (not to be confused with pie filling, which normally also contains spices, artificial colors and flavors, among other undesirable additives) mixed in with the normal diet (http://www.pets.ca/dogs/tips/tip-75-pumpkin-for-cats-pumpkin-for-dogs-pumpkin-for-diarrhea-or-constipation/) . In humans, the use of pumpkin or mashed squashes such as butternut or acorn also make the going easier. For the homo sapiens among us, try adding a bit of ginger to ease any stomach woes involved as well.
A few words of caution, however: don’t even think about recycling your Hallowe’en pumpkin for this purpose. By the time you get done with it, there is usually a lot of natural antibiotic (aka mold) growing inside. Just take a photo of it before it gets too rotten and smelly to get near, and compost ol’ Jack.