I wish there were an easy bomb-proof solution to this one. I see lots of children who suffer from constipation. Truth is, lots of things can cause constipation so typically parents have to play around with various tactics before finding that perfect something that works.
It’s worth the trial and error, though, as relieving constipation is a huge leap towards optimizing health.
Like anything with our kids, to relieve the symptoms we need to figure out the cause.
– food intolerance resulting in inflammation in the gut
– poor bile production in the liver
– low stomach acid
– imbalanced gut ecosystem
– stress, leading to an overactive sympathetic nervous system
– structural/misalignment issues
Vitamin C is a natural laxative. It also helps stimulate the production of stomach acid.
Because the stomach is at the start of the digestive tract, inadequate stomach acid level triggers a cascade of effects lower down in the system including inadequate enzyme production and poor bile production.
Stomach acid is also the first in a series of processes that breaks protein chains into amino acids. Inadequate protein digestion (partly due to low stomach acid) often plays a role in food intolerance.
I suggest taking vitamin C in a whole food supplement form such as camu camu or acai. Best to give this in the morning as it can stimulate energy production and interfere with sleep.
Magnesium is also a natural laxative. It helps improve gut motility and bring water into the colon. You can give magnesium glycerinate or magnesium citrate. Best to give it before bed as it is a relaxing mineral. (As a gentle aside, magnesium deficiency can also result from general toxicity... see this video post for more on that)
Kefir is a fermented food typically made by adding a starter culture of beneficial yeast and bacteria to milk. It can be quite nourishing to the gut.
You can make a non-dairy version using coconut water instead of milk if your child is dairy sensitive.
Unlike probiotic supplements, fermented food offers more diversity of bacteria, along with beneficial yeast, vitamin C, and it also helps balance the pH level of the digestive tract. As a bonus, coconut water kefir offers hydration, which is also critical for proper bowel function.
You can make this at home using The Body Ecology Kefir Starter mixed with coconut water (order the starter culture here). It ferments at room temperature in about 16 hours. No special equipment is required. This bubbly refreshing non-dairy drink is best given in the morning with breakfast to kick start the digestion. As an added bonus, try adding some fresh squeezed lemon into the drink for added vitamin C and enzymes.
Clearing the colon of waste product is essential for health. Relieving constipation helps stabilize mood and behaviour, can improve appetite and, of course, makes a child feel better.
While trying to resolve constipation issues, I would also suggest that you avoid non-fermented dairy (like milk, cheese and ice cream), gluten and sometimes raw vegetables, as these can all be irritating to an already irritated gut.
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