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Doctors Share Their Best Advice to Beat Constipation



If you’ve been feeling a little secure lately, you are not alone. Actually, constipation leads to approximately 8 million doctor visits per year.

Although the causes of constipation vary from person to person, it is typically the result of food moving slowly through the digestive tract. Whether you experience constipation every now and then or if it is a chronic condition, there are many effective treatments available.

Many people will use laxatives as a first line of defense. And while there are many effective over-the-counter products out there, they can have negative (and often chaotic) side effects. The good news? There are many different foods that can act as natural laxatives.

What are the possible reasons for constipation?

Too little exercise and too little fiber are two of the main reasons Dr. Julie Miller Jones, PhD, LN, CNS. In fact, less than 7% of the US population has their fiber needs, and many eat less than half the amount of fiber they need – found in cereals, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.

Other causes include travel, irregular schedules, stress, allergies, celiac disease, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and strokes, adds Dr. Jones added.

Dehydration is another possible reason. “The colon is designed to reabsorb water from stool, so hydration is really important.” Bryan Curtin, MD, MHSc, Director of Neurogastroenterology and Motility. “The more you move, the more your stomach moves, so exercise helps too.”

If you suffer from chronic constipation, you should consult your doctor.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Keto Constipation

Natural laxatives

The next time you’re backed up, consider trying these natural laxatives as your first line of defense:


“Dried plums (prunes) have both types of fiber and contain sorbitol, which has a natural, laxative effect,” says Dr. Sabine Hazan, MD, Creator of ProgenaBiome and author of Let’s Talk Sh! T.

In one to learn, 40 subjects with constipation found that 50 grams of prunes twice a day with meals was as effective as flea seeds in relieving constipation. That’s about 10-12 prunes a day in total. “My advice is to start with fewer prunes and slowly increase until you get the results you want,” says Dr. Hazan. “A word of caution: never start your plum journey less than 24 hours before a transatlantic flight or a long hike.”

Related: Do Plums Really Help You Lose Weight? That’s what science says

hot water

It sounds simple, but sometimes drinking more water throughout the day is enough to get things going. hot water promotes healthy, normal contractions of the gastrointestinal tract, which ensure a smooth process, Dr. Uma Naidoo, MD, Nutritional psychiatrist, professional chef, nutrition specialist, and author of the best-selling book This is Your Brain on Food, explained.

Olive oil / flaxseed oil

The health benefits of cooking with olive oil are well known, and it turns out that relieving constipation is one of them. “Even adding a small amount of oil in the diet (as little as a teaspoon or so!) can soften the stool and relieve symptoms of constipation, ”says Dr. Naidoo. “As a nutritional psychologist, I also encourage including healthy fats high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as olive oil, in your daily meals so that your brain will thank you too!


Avocados are high in fiber, healthy fats, and other nutrients. “Diet food rich in fiber Not only does it relieve constipation, it keeps the entire GI tract healthy, which in turn contributes to a healthier body, brain and mood! ”Dr. Naidoo explains.


Oatmeal is another great high fiber food to add to your list.

“Oats are high in insoluble and soluble fiber and their gel-like texture, when added to water, acts as a lubricant to move the contents smoothly through your intestines, “says Dr. Naidoo.

Greek yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods

All of these foods are good for your gut health. “They are rich in live active cultures, supports the gut microbiome and even the enteric nervous system and relieves constipation symptoms, ”says Dr. Naidoo.

Caffeine products

Morning coffee drinkers know that this drink usually does the job. “This includes coffee and black tea, which stimulate the large intestine to contract and at the same time act as diuretics that draw water out of the body, Promote bowel movement also in this way, ”explains Dr. Naidoo.

Related: How Much Caffeine is Too Much? We asked experts

Moisturizing and high fiber fruits and vegetables

Apples, cucumber, watermelon, and grapes help hydrate and have thick bowel movements easy to pass, says Dr. Naidoo.


Dates are high in fiber. “Dietary fiber stores water, builds up the stool and makes it more regular,” explains Dr. Curtin.

Beans, legumes and lentils

All three are high in fiber and aid digestive health. Including these in your daily meals can help prevent constipation and keep your brain happy too, says Dr. Naidoo.

How to prevent constipation and keep your digestive system healthy

One of the best ways to deal with constipation is to avoid doing a backup in the first place. Dr. Naidoo gives her top tips:

Incorporate more prebiotics into your meals

The inclusion of prebiotics (e.g. onions, leeks, garlic, oats, bananas) and fermented foods (kimchi, miso, kefir, sauerkraut) in the daily diet promotes general intestinal health.

Get 25-30 grams of fiber every day

Dietary fiber supports healthy movement in the intestines. “It is important to know that people with indigestion may not tolerate fiber well, and if this could be a problem it is best to consult your doctor to work on the best solution,” explains Dr. Naidoo.

Eat more leafy vegetables

Leafy vegetables are among the densest sources of fiber and also contain folic acid – an important B vitamin for your brain health.

drink lots of water

Water is the fuel for almost all chemical reactions in the body, so an adequate supply of water supports the natural functions of our intestines while moisturizing and making your stool soft.

Avoid foods that cause constipation

For some, this could be cheese, other types of dairy products, foods very high in protein, processed carbohydrates, and so on. Certain wheat products, especially those containing gluten, can cause constipation in many.

Check the side effects of the medications you are taking

Some medications, such as opiate pain relievers, can cause constipation as a side effect due to the way they work. If these medications are needed, taking medications like senna herbal tea can help.


Daily walks or jogging can also stimulate healthy, physiological contractions of the gastrointestinal tract to move content along and out.

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Listen to your body

Dr. Naidoo recommends that individuals develop a sense of body intelligence because different foods affect us all differently.

“Including in the diet a number of these different foods, all of which have been suggested to aid digestion, and understanding how the digestive system reacts is key to understanding which foods prevent or induce constipation in each individual” says Dr. Naidoo. “By understanding our body in this way, we are able to make conscious decisions at every meal in order to support these natural body functions.”

Next, read the following if constipation is a legitimate emergency.


  • JAMA: Constipation: Advances in Diagnosis and Treatment “
  • Julie Miller Jones, PhD, LN, CNS
  • Bryan Curtin, MD, MHSc, Director of Neurogastroenterology and Motility
  • Dr. Sabine Hazan, Creator of ProgenaBiome and author of Let’s Sh! T. talk
  • Dr. Uma Naidoo, Nutrition psychiatrist, professional cook, nutrition specialist and author of the bestseller, This is your brain when you eat
  • Food pharmacology and therapeutics: “Randomized clinical study: Dried plums (plums) vs. flea seeds in constipation”
  • Gastroenterological nursing: “The effect of warm water intake on bowel movements in the early postoperative stage of patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy: a randomized controlled trial “
  • Journal of Kidney Nutrition: “The short-term effects of olive oil and flaxseed oil for treating constipation in hemodialysis patients “
  • Nutrients: “Whole Fruits and Fruit Fibers That Affect Health”
  • Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: “Salvia Columbariae contains tanshinones”
  • Advances in nutrition: “Mechanisms of action of probiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota on intestinal motility and constipation “

Whole Grains Health

MOV Parent: Time for the lunch bell | News, Sports, Jobs



The summer months are coming to an end and school is getting closer and closer. When you go back to school it can be difficult to start or continue a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to choose unhealthy lunch and snack ideas. However, I want to share with you the importance of packing a healthy lunch and preparing a healthy snack when your kids go back to school.

1. Eating a healthy diet can improve your health today and for years to come. Think about how your food choices will be made up throughout the day or week to help you create a healthy eating routine.

2. It is important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, as well as dairy and fortified soy alternatives. Choose options for meals, drinks, and snacks with limited added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.

Some of the negative effects that unhealthy school lunches have on children are mental and physical problems. Eating the wrong diet can lead to obesity or other weight problems. A child with poor diet is more likely to develop diabetes, kidney stones, and heart disease. Without proper nutrition, a child’s academic performance will decline. Sleep behavior is also affected when children do not eat enough nutritious foods. These children may also exhibit more aggressive behavior and lower attention spans.

When I was in school I packed my own lunch. Most of the time I just tossed everything I could find into a bag and called it lunch. I would wrap anything from cookies to leftover pizza. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I understood why I should choose healthier options. I decided to work on a healthier lifestyle and now cucumber and melon are my favorite food when I wrap lunch.

Becoming more aware of what to give your child for lunch, what your child is packing for lunch, and what groceries you bring around the house can help them feel better, be better, and be healthier.

As a parent, you can help your child choose healthier options by:

1. Regular family meals

2. Serving a wide variety of healthy foods and snacks

3. Be a role model by eating healthily yourself

4. Avoid fighting over food

5. Include children in the process

Figuring out the best lunch options for your child can be difficult. You could try some of these options:

* Turkey + cheddar roll-up, fresh berries, yogurt and trail mix

* Cheese quesadilla, guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips and strawberries

* Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, graham crackers, cheese spread and a peach cup

* Turkey slices, cheese cubes, pita wedges, hummus, baby carrots and celery

To make lunch more attractive to your child, try different foods. Some ideas include:

* Make potato salad or pasta salad multi-colored. Use fun noodles or add hard boiled eggs, beans, peas or small cubes of meat for extra protein.

* Cut raw vegetables like carrots, celery, green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumbers. Send them with a small container of low-fat dip.

* Add a piece of fruit for dessert, washed and ready to eat, or a packet of fruit salad.

* Try reduced-fat cheese cubes or cheese spreads with whole grain crackers.

* Few children can resist yogurt, a good source of protein and calcium that is now available in many different flavors and shapes.

* Choose healthy snacks. Pack pretzels, popcorn, rice cakes, whole grain crackers, dried flakes, or trail mix.

After a long day at school, your children will be hungry. Having healthy snacks for your children after school is important. You can have a snack ready and waiting for them or allow them to choose from the healthy options you have around the house.

The American Heart Association has a list of healthy snack options divided into categories based on cravings. Some of these snacks are:

* Apples and pears

* Bell pepper slices

* Popcorn

* Nuts and seeds

* Carrots and celery sticks

Make sure you find the right ones that suit your family’s needs.

While I was in grades 3-12, I got involved in post-school sports. It was important to have a healthy snack before training and games. The snacks I always chose were apples and peanut butter or bananas and peanut butter.

I also enjoyed applesauce. My parents bought the sugar-free version and I added cinnamon. These were simple and healthy snacks that I could grab on my own.

“There is nothing unhealthy about educating young people about nutrition.” – Pierre Dukan


Megan Zwick is a program assistant in Family and Consumer Sciences at Ohio State University Extension, Washington County. She can be reached at



* Stadler, M. (2018, August). Back to School Kids Lunch Ideas. (2018, August 14).

* Hopkins, A. (2019 August 15). 15 Healthy After School Snacks Your Kids Will Actually Eat

* What is MyPlate?

* Dukan, P. (n.d.). Healthy eating quote. 34 Best Quotes About Healthy Eating For You And Your Children.

* Schuna, C. (no year). The Effects of Children Eating Unhealthy School Lunches. LIVESTRONG.COM.

* Ben-Joseph, EP (Ed.). (2018, June). Healthy nutrition (for parents) – nemours kidshealth. Children’s health.

* School lunches. Harvard Health. (2015, July 16).

* Healthy snacking. (nd).

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7 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health



When your stomach is fine, you never think about it – but when you don’t, it’s hard to think about anything else. The group of microorganisms that live in and make up your gastrointestinal tract play a role in almost every aspect of your health, from preventing chronic disease to maintaining your immune system. So it’s no wonder that you feel lousy when things get out of hand.

But what exactly is your gut feeling? And is it possible to improve your gut health? Here is everything you need to know.

What is the intestine?

The human intestine is much more complex than even experts once realized – it comprises a multitude of internal organs that are involved in the digestive process to absorb nutrients from food and excrete waste, explains Rushabh Modi, MD, a certified physician in both internal medicine and Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. “Typically, this refers to the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon, with the pancreas and liver being crucial as supporting organs that help make digestive enzymes,” he says.

How your gut keeps your body healthy

In addition to absorbing and transporting nutrients to all tissues in the body, the intestine is critical to maintaining fluid and salt levels and eliminating waste, explains Dr. Modes. “Many vital nutrients and vitamins such as B12 and iron have special transporters that only exist in the intestine,” he adds. Iron, for example, needs stomach acid to be absorbed effectively – and B12 also needs certain receptors in the stomach and middle intestines to be absorbed. “These nutrients are difficult to obtain in any other way and they are essential for normal physiological function,” adds Dr. Modes added.

The gut is also one of the body’s most important disease control systems. “The acid in the stomach kills the bacteria and viruses that can inadvertently be ingested through food, and the digestive tract is an important way of introducing antigens to boost immune function and protection in the body,” says Christine Lee, MD . Gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “The digestive tract also digests the foods ingested and extracts the essential nutrients that the body can absorb for vital use.”

New research has even uncovered a link between poor gut health and several neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, and depression. One such study from the Université de Genève found that people with Alzheimer’s have different types of bacteria in their gut than those who do not have the disease.

8 signs your gut is suffering

If your gut is unhealthy, you are likely to have one or more of the following symptoms, even if it’s mild or rare:

  1. gas
  2. Flatulence
  3. Acid reflux
  4. heartburn
  5. diarrhea
  6. constipation
  7. Changes in stool
  8. Inexplicable weight loss
    1. “Since food digestion and waste production are the two most important functions of the intestine, if there are problems in these areas, the intestine can often be the cause of the problem,” explains Dr. Modes. Acid reflux and heartburn have also been linked to the gut, although you may feel the pain further from the core of the problem. Flatulence is also becoming more common, so Dr. Modi notes that patients view them as almost a normal reaction to eating certain foods.

      If you experience unexplained weight loss despite eating regular meals, it may indicate that your body is unable to digest or absorb the nutrients in the foods you eat and that there is a problem in your digestive system, according to Dr. Lee.

      How to improve your gut health

      The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to support your gut health. Here are some of the strategies doctors recommend.

      Eat a wide variety of healthy foods

      A diet made up of several different food types can result in a more diverse microbiome made up of more types, according to a report published in the journal Molecular Metabolism. This, explains Dr. Lee, strengthens our microbiome and increases its resilience.

      The best foods for gut health are fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, especially those with the highest fiber content that help your digestive tract function properly. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day and men 38 grams per day.

      And cut down on unhealthy foods. “The more fat, fat, and salt you eat, the worse your gut health gets,” said Scott David Lippe, MD, chief of gastroenterology at Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus, NJ and assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Medical School. This is especially important to keep in mind at dinner, as restaurants tend to consume salt, fat, and fat because they taste good.

      Try to leave out dairy products

      If you experience gas, gas, or loose bowel movements after drinking milk or eating cheese, you may be lactose intolerant. “This affects many adults, especially those who have no Northern European ancestry,” says Dr. Lip. “A quick and easy test is to drink a glass of regular milk – if you feel unwell, you are lactose intolerant.” If you are not ready to give up dairy products, you can also try taking lactose tablets before consuming dairy foods take.

      Consider a probiotic

      These tiny little microorganisms aid your metabolism and help rebalance your microbiota, says Douglas A. Drossman, MD, gastroenterologist and Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Psychiatry, UNC Division of Gastroenterology at the UNC School of Medicine. He recommends taking them when you have symptoms of an unhealthy bowel; however, there can be no other benefit. In fact, there isn’t a lot of research to prove the benefits of probiotics for the gut.

      For example, a review published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology found that probiotics positively affect the gut microbiota of people with certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes, but do little to improve the gut microbiota of healthy people. “If you are taking antibiotics or have diarrhea, taking probiotics can be very helpful,” adds Dr. Lip. However, he recommends trying to get your fair share of probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi first.

      Include more prebiotics in your diet

      “Prebiotics are not bacteria, they are foods that good bacteria like to eat,” explains Dr. Milstein. “We have to feed the good bacteria and starve the bad bacteria.” He recommends eating foods rich in bacteria such as walnuts, berries, bananas, flax seeds, legumes, artichokes, onions, garlic, chicory, dandelion greens, asparagus, leeks and whole grain products. “The diet is personalized, but putting some fruits and vegetables and fiber on our plate with every meal helps keep gut and brain health,” adds Dr. Milstein added.

      Monitor your vitamin D levels

      Recent research in Nature Communications has examined the relationship between gut bacteria and vitamin D levels and found that deficiency in the nutrient plays a key role in increasing the risk of certain diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer, plays. Any form of disruption of the GI barrier, according to Dr. Drossman commonly referred to as “leaky gut,” which can increase a person’s risk of developing infectious, inflammatory, and functional GI diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. “Most people with leaky gut have very low levels of vitamin D and very low levels of the two most important omega-3 fatty acids – EPA and DHA,” he says. He recommends that most people consume at least 5,000 IU (125 µg) of vitamin D3 daily and consume sufficient fish oil (or the vegan equivalent) of 1,000 mg DHA per day. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.

      Manage your stress level

      Stress not only puts a strain on your mental health, but also on your physical well-being. Chronic high stress can, according to Dr. Drossman directly affect your gut health. While removing stressors from your life isn’t always possible, stress management strategies like diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, or yoga can help, says Dr. Drossman. “It’s also a smart idea to see a psychologist to see if brain and gut therapies (cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, mindfulness) can be used,” he adds.

      Get a good night’s sleep every night

      When you don’t get enough sleep, your whole body is affected, including your intestines. In fact, new research shows how closely your gut microbiome and the quality of your sleep really are. A study by Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida found that poor sleep, for reasons as yet unknown, can negatively affect your gut microbiome, which can then manifest itself in a variety of other health problems, including autoimmune diseases and mental illnesses. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.

      Jenn Sinrich is a veteran writer, digital and social editor, and content strategist specializing in health, fitness, beauty, and relationships.

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    YOUR HEALTH: When heart health is a matter of race



    PITTSBURGH – Up to 1 in 500 American adults have cardiomyopathy.

    Their hearts have enlarged, thickened, or stiffened, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood around the body.

    Now, new research examines racial differences in the outcomes of these heart patients.

    “If we don’t give patients good medicines and the like over time, they will develop into what is known as clinical heart failure, where they develop symptoms of shortness of breath and leg swelling,” said Dr. Shazli Khan. Internal Medicine Physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

    People with cardiomyopathy may not have any symptoms at all, or their symptoms may be very mild to begin with.

    Dr. Khan examines racial differences in cardiomyopathy outcomes.

    She and her colleagues looked at data from 18,000 patients over a period of six years.

    “What we actually found was that black patients in our cohort had a much higher prevalence of many chronic diseases,” said Dr. Khan.

    “So more chronic kidney disease, higher blood pressure, higher diabetes rates.”

    If black patients are on optimized heart failure therapy and continue to have symptoms, they can get additional benefit from taking hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate, known under the brand name BiDil.

    Previous research suggested that black patients had a much higher prevalence of chronic illnesses, including chronic kidney disease, higher blood pressure, and higher rates of diabetes.

    “In fact, they died more than the white cardiomyopathy patients,” said Dr. Khan.

    Researchers found that black patients diagnosed with cardiomyopathy were 15% more likely to die than white patients.

    Dr. Khan says the study results suggest that providers should emphasize earlier interventions.

    “That they come in to fill their medication, make appointments, give them resources, and educate them about the long-term effects of certain medical conditions.”

    Patients are advised to focus on eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like chicken or fish.

    Also, focus on maintaining a healthy weight by balancing caloric intake with physical activity to reduce the risk of heart disease.

    Doctors will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your personal and family medical history.

    You will also be asked when your symptoms are occurring, such as whether exercise is causing your symptoms.

    If your doctor thinks you have cardiomyopathy, several tests may be done to help confirm the diagnosis, including an X-ray test to see if your heart is enlarged.

    Several blood tests may be done, including those to check your kidney, thyroid, and liver function, and to measure your iron levels, and a treadmill test to see your heart rhythm, blood pressure, and breathing while you run on a treadmill.

    Your doctor may recommend this test to evaluate symptoms, determine your physical fitness, and see if exercise is causing an abnormal heart rhythm.

    If this story affects your life or has caused you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

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