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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Maintaining Natural Bowel Health

Nov 30, 2015 10:41AM
by Tisha Claudia Lim
 One of the most important keys to well-being is to maintain good and natural bowel health. This enables the body to get rid of waste and toxins and prevents illness in the long run. According to Everyday Health, the frequency of bowel movements depends on each individual. It is considered perfectly normal to have a bowel movement one to three times a day, or three times in a week. However, fewer than three bowel movements in a week is considered constipation.

Having sufficient dietary fiber is crucial in maintaining good bowel health and in preventing constipation. Dietary fiber has many health benefits to the body. It not only helps in lowering the risks of cholesterol and in stabilizing ones blood sugar level, but also in maintaining a healthy weight. This is because fiber is mainly found in fruits and vegetables, and they are generally lower in calories. Fiber also helps to curb one’s appetite by making one feel fuller for a longer period of time. According to the Institute of Health, the recommended fiber intake for an adult is at least 25g of fiber per day, and this can easily achieved by incorporating plant-based foods into meals.

Apples, kiwis, bananas, strawberries, papayas, mangos and persimmons contain a healthy dose of fiber. The pectin (a type of fiber found in fruits) on the skin of apples helps to add bulk to the stool and stimulate bowel movement. Although kiwifruit skin is not commonly eaten, according to Health Care Online, its skin has triple the amount of fiber than its flesh. Dried fruits such as raisins and apricots are also great sources of fiber and a great choice for snacks.

Vegetables and dark leafy greens that top the fiber chart include cabbage, broccoli, radish, carrots, okra, spinach and kale. Golden needle mushrooms and seaweed are also extremely beneficial when it comes to preventing constipation. Chia seeds and flaxseeds contain a lot of fiber, along with other minerals such as magnesium and calcium. Black sesame seeds, which are commonly added into smoothies in Asia, are not only high in fiber but also rich in iron.

The insoluble fiber found in whole grains, oat bran and brown rice helps to stimulate bowel movement. The same goes with the soluble fiber found in beans, particularly black beans. Black bean soup is a common dish in Asia. It is also added with black fungus (an edible jelly commonly used in many Asian dishes) to help with bowel movement.

Sweet potato porridge has a similar effect. It is a home-cooked dish commonly eaten in East-Asian countries. People sometimes substitute sweet potatoes with Chinese yam with its thick outer brown skin and white inner flesh, which is another great source of fiber and can be located at any local Asian supermarket.

With dietary fiber in mind, it is also imperative to drink enough water each day, according to individual needs. Without sufficient water intake, the body is unable to function optimally. Nutrients cannot be absorbed properly and waste products cannot be eliminated. This also has a negative effect on the skin, as the body uses water to lubricate the skin. Drinking a cup of water the first thing in the morning after waking up help keeps bowel movement regular and prevents constipation.

 Tisha Claudia Lim is a fourth-year journalism student at the University of Maryland, College Park and an intern at Natural Awakenings Washington, D.C. She can be contacted at [email protected]

 

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