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lady_tummyDo you suffer from occasional constipation? What does it really mean to be constipated? And can occasional constipation impact your overall health? All of these are important questions to ask. Occasional constipation slows down food transit time and allows undigested food to remain in the colon longer. The putrefied material then releases harmful toxins, which can enter the bloodstream through the intestinal wall.

So Just what is Occasional Constipation?
Occasional constipation is often defined as having infrequent bowel movements with stools that are typically hard, dry and difficult to eliminate. You may even experience some cramping and bloating. While many factors can lead to the development of constipation, the following are some of the most common:

  • Diet: Because a diet that consists of too many refined sugars, starches and processed foods can lead to constipation, eating plenty of fiber-rich, non-starchy foods that are low in sugar is an important part of maintaining healthy bowel movements.
  • Lack of exercise: Exercise triggers the lymphatic flow that helps stimulate peristalsis (the natural muscle contractions that move food through the intestines and help ease elimination).
  • Changes in routine: Changes in normal daily activity can often throw off your internal schedule, which can affect your bowel movements and lead to occasional constipation.
  • Lack of time: Although taking the time to eliminate regularly is an important part of good bowel health, many people simply don’t do it. Try setting aside time in your day to go to the bathroom, even it means setting the alarm a bit earlier.

3 Simple Steps for Natural Relief
Follow this easy 3-step approach to achieve at least one healthy bowel movement every day.‡

  1.  HYDRATE the Colon
    Properly hydrating the colon will promote regular peristalsis. Drink plenty of water and use hydrating minerals such as magnesium hydroxide and gentle (laxative) herbs such as cape aloe and rhubarb to assist with natural bowel movements.‡
  2. ADD BULK with Fiber
    A healthy colon requires bulk in order to eliminate regularly, and fiber can help provide that bulk.‡ Many people do not consume enough fiber through diet alone. A flax-based fiber supplement is ideal for promoting at least one healthy daily bowel movement because it provides a better balance of soluble and insoluble fiber.‡ Avoid fibers that could be binding, such as psyllium, as they can leave the colon dehydrated and in turn reduce peristalsis.
  3. LUBRICATE with Oils
    To achieve bowel regularity and a healthy elimination schedule, it is critical to keep the colon lubricated. Beneficial oils such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats from fish oil, flax oil and borage oil help in providing the necessary lubrication for smooth and gentle bowel elimination.‡

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It seems every day there’s a new diet trend to follow: forgo the fat; steer clear of carbs, eat like our hunter-gatherer ancestors did—but is there a downside when it comes to heart health? You bet. Here’s why you should skip what’s trending and follow the Love Your Heart Eating Plan:

The Low-fat Dilemma
Low-fat diets have been widely recommended for the reduction of heart disease risk because saturated fats increase LDL cholesterol. The problem is that low-fat diets often become high-carbohydrate diets, which have been linked to a reduction in HDL cholesterol, higher triglycerides, and increased levels of small, dense LDL cholesterol, all of which have been shown to increase heart disease risk.

When low-fat diets were first recommended back in the 1970s, food manufacturers simply started to replace fat with carbohydrates to keep foods tasting good. Unfortunately, the result of the low-fat, high-carb diet craze has been an unprecedented increase in obesity, diabetes and heart disease—the exact opposite of what was originally intended.

Dissecting Low-carb Diet
While the low-carbohydrate diet has some heart health benefits, there are big drawbacks. Many low-carb diets are also low-fiber diets—in large part because low fruit and vegetable intake—but fiber is an important component in a heart-healthy diet (Brenda Watson recommends at least 35 grams each day). If you follow a standard low-carb diet, you likely won’t be getting the important benefits of high intake of dietary fiber.

Another downfall of the low-carb diet is the initial stage of the diet. It involves severe carbohydrate restriction—often under 20 grams daily—which rapidly puts the body into a state of ketosis, whereby fat is burned for energy in the absence of available glycogen (the stored form of glucose, or sugar, in the body). This kind of strict carbohydrate restriction requires special monitoring of ketone bodies in the urine to ensure excessive ketones do not trigger ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition common in undiagnosed diabetics.

The Problem with Paleo
Although high in fiber due to the emphasis on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, the modern Paleo diet tends to contain insufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D due to the absence of dairy foods and the low sun exposure of modern people and (hunter-gatherers lived outdoors and thus enjoyed plenty of sun exposure). Further, the Omega-3 content of modern meats is not what it was in Paleolithic times, so to obtain enough Omega-3s, high amounts of cold-water fatty fish are recommended. However, high fish consumption today may not be safe due to methylmercury contamination.

Finally, the Paleo diet does not limit fruits or starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Fruits contain high amounts of fructose, which does not raise blood glucose levels but can have many detrimental effects. Fructose is processed in the liver and contributes to increases in LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and apolipoprotein-B (a protein linked to arterial plaque and heart disease). Starchy vegetables rapidly break down into sugar, which contributes to increases in blood sugar levels.

The Love Your Heart Solution
Think of the Love Your Heart Eating Plan as a hybrid between a low-carb diet and the Paleo diet—taking the positive attributes from each while removing the negative attributes to create a heart-healthy diet rich in nutrients, full of flavor, and without the characteristic hunger pangs and carb/sugar cravings of the conventional low-fat, high-carb diet. Get started today with these delicious Love Your Heart recipes!

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‡This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. The material on this page is for consumer informational and educational purposes only, under section 5 of DSHEA.

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