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Three Simple Solutions To Get Sluggish Bowels Moving

Staying regular is more than just a question of comfort. While there’s no denying that the gas, bloating and straining associated with occasional sluggish bowels can lead to your fair share of embarrassment and misery, the fact is that a clockwork colon also plays a critical part in the overall health of your digestive system… and even occasional constipation may have more consequences than you think.

Consider its potential effects on your gut’s lining, for one. Increased gut permeability results in macromolecules being able to penetrate your stomach lining and enter your bloodstream, where they’re recognized as invaders, triggering immune responses.1-5 Research has revealed a link between constipation and gut permeability—along with changes in both microflora balance and systemic immune response.6

The imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your colon is an especially problematic concern of occasional constipation, as it leads to the production of byproducts that can have a major impact on your health.7-10 And since modern bowel transit times are double what they were for our primitive ancestors, it means double the risk of unwanted fermentation and reabsorption.11-12 Case studies also reveal strong links between healthy bowel movements and healthy colon cells—and regular bowel movements have been shown to actively support colon health.13

Ultimately, there are any number of causes of occasional constipation—from certain medications, to dehydration, to dietary choices—but luckily, the solutions to this common problem are as simple as they are numerous. Increased fluid intake and daily exercise can both go a long way in keeping you regular, especially when combined with ample dietary fiber.14-16 Case-controlled studies have shown a direct link between high fiber intake and optimal colorectal health—but unfortunately, Americans eat only half the recommended 21 to 38 grams of fiber per day, on average.17-20

That’s why wheat bran, fruits, vegetables and a high quality fiber supplement—such as VRP’s EZ Fiber™ or Fiber-Rite—are such essential additions to your bowel-bulking daily regimen.21-22 The soluble fiber featured in these formulas—in the form of partially hydrolyzed guar gum and psyllium husk powder—has been shown to reduce reliance on other laxative solutions in cases of occasional constipation by increasing bowel movement moisture content and frequency.23-25

If you still find yourself needing a little extra help to keep your bowels moving, time-tested laxative botanicals like Cascara sagrada and Senna (both found in VRP’s EZ Cleanse™) can come to your rescue. Research indicates that these effective laxative herbs stimulate peristalsis—the wave-like contractions of your digestive tract—to promote healthy bowel movements, safely and naturally.26-28

Finally, no effort to stay regular would be complete without a hefty dose of beneficial bacteria. Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium infantis, and Bacillus coagulans may help to support more active bowels—with studies indicating that increased consumption of these friendly microflora can significantly increase defecation frequency among constipated adults… without any harmful side effects.29-30

You can find all five strains in the daily probiotic formula BioPRO™—available now from Vitamin Research Products®.


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4. Warshaw AL, Bellini CA, Walker WA. The intestinal mucosal barrier to intact antigenic protein. Am J Surg. 1977;133:55-58.

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12. Mills S. The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine. London: Arkana/Penguin;1991:101.

13. Jacobs EJ, White E. Constipation, laxative use, and colon cancer among middle-aged adults. Epidemiology. 1998;9(4):385-91.

14. American Academy of Family Physicians. Constipation: Keeping Your Bowels Moving Smoothly [Web page]. April 2000. Available at: online/famdocen/home/common/digestive/basics/037.html. Accessed September 14, 2004.

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17. Howe GR, Benito E, Castelleto R, et al. Dietary intake of fiber and decreased risk of cancers of the colon and rectum: evidence from the combined analysis of 13 case-control studies. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1992;84(24):1887-1896.

18. Steinmetz KA, Kushi LH, Bostick RM, Folsom AR, Potter JD. Vegetables, fruit, and colon cancer in the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 1994;139(1):1-15.

19. National Center for Health Statistics. Dietary Intake of Macronutrients, Micronutrients, and Other Dietary Constituents: United States, 1988–94. Vital and Health Statistics, Series 11, Number 245. July 2002.

20. Institute of Medicine. Dietary, Functional, and Total Fiber. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, D. C.: National Academies Press;2002:265-334.

21. Marlett JA, McBurney MI, Slavin JL. Position of the American Dietetic Association: health implications of dietary fiber. J Am Diet Assoc. 2002;102(7):993-1000.

22. Cummings JH. The effect of dietary fiber on fecal weight and composition. In: Spiller GA, ed. Fiber in Human Nutrition. 3rd ed. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 2001:183-252.

23. Slavin JL, Greenberg NA. Partially hydrolyzed guar gum: clinical nutrition uses. Nutrition. 2003;19(6):549-52.

24. Takahashi H, Wako N, Okubo T, Ishihara N, Yamanaka J, Yamamoto T. Influence of partially hydrolyzed guar gum on constipation in women. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol. 1994;40(3):251-9.

25. Institute of Medicine. Dietary, Functional, and Total Fiber. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, D. C.: National Academies Press; 2002:265-334.

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27. Godding EW. Laxatives and the special role of senna. Pharmacology. 1988;36:230-6.

28. Ramesh PR, Kumar KS, Rajagopal MR, et al. Managing morphine-induced constipation: a controlled comparison of an Ayurvedic formulation and senna. J Pain Symptom Manage. 1998;16:240-4.

29. Tanaka R, Shimosaka K. Investigation of the stool frequency in elderly who are bed ridden and its improvements by ingesting bifidus yogurt. Nippon Ronen Igakkai Zasshi. 1982;19:577-582.

30. Matsui T, Iida K, Okumura T, Hatano M. Effect of Bifidus yogurt on the defecation frequency of the elderly. Jpn J Nutrition. 2000;58:213-218.