Laxatives may be hindering your health

Life Fodmap for Life

If you suffer from IBS you may be intimately familiar with one of the most common symptoms: constipation.

Although following a low fodmap is extremely helpful in this area, it is impossible to stick to it perfectly all the time and live a semi-normal life! Eating out at a restaurant or a friend’s home is bound to have you face to face with a garlic and onion situation that is unavoidable. And without wanting to talk unnecessarily about what happens in the bathroom, sometimes we get a little … stuck…..

In the past I have often reached for  laxatives and I have tried a few different types, sometimes with extreme results and I often wondered why my insides felt like they were cleaned with paint-stripper, leaving me feeling quite ill for days after.

I mentioned in my last blog that I am fascinated with a new read: “The Paleo Approach” by Dr Sarah Ballantyne – she has a PhD in medical biophysics, so I think she knows her stuff! I was fascinated to be informed that “as a general rule, laxatives cause damage to epithelial cells that line the gut.” She then goes on to point out that researches are are not able to determine that this damage increases the risk for disease, however I certainly agree with her statement that “anything that causes damage or irritation to the gut should be of concern to someone going to great lengths to heal the gut” (p. 169).

After some research of my own I have drawn the conclusion that the best laxatives to use to move things along are those that fall under the category of “Iso-Osmotic Laxatives”. Osmotic laxatives work through helping to draw water into the large intestine. Regular osmotic laxatives can cause imbalances in your body salts, which is why iso-osmotic ones are safer as they don’t cause a gain or loss of water or electrolytes in your body.

In Australia, the only brand available is Movicol. My only warning with using Movicol is that it can take a few days to… er… get things moving. So, my practical advice is that if you know you ate something that causes you concerns in this area start on the Movicol before the situation strikes. For me it’s fructose, polyols and fructans – including coconut, onion, garlic, pretty much all fruit and wheat – as the worst culprits.

An addition to, or instead of a laxative, there are nutritional options to help prevent constipation which I also turn to:

  • Slippery elm bark powder (although there is no official call on the fodmap status of this, so be cautious)
  • Lots of low fodmap vegetables – although I do eat loads of vegetables and this doesn’t always save me
  • Drink lots of water – like most people, I could improve in this area

Looking after our bodies is so important.

Nourishing our body and caring for it with un-processed food that is low in fodmap’s is truly the best way forward.  Following the low fodmap diet can be restrictive, but it also allows our bodies to be peaceful after years of irritation and pain. Medication, including laxatives, only treat some of the symptoms and I now know that they can cause many more problems then they solve. We need to ask more questions so that we are truly informed of any gut irritating side-effects from medications and supplements.

Here’s to good health!

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3 thoughts on “Laxatives may be hindering your health

    • Yes, Movicol saves me! I have used the Microlax Enema once and I was up all night vomiting (as well as the expected toilet activity), so I won’t be using that again! Glad to hear you didn’t have any issues with it. 🙂

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