The habitual use of laxatives can irritate the bowel, cause cramps and diarrhea, and even lead to laxative dependence. If irregularity is a concern, avoid using commercial remedies and try the following natural alternatives:
- Eat more fiber, in the form of fresh vegetables, wheat bran, whole-grain breads and cereals, and fruit.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Exercise on a daily basis.
- Do not use tobacco, caffeine or other stimulant drugs.
- Practice relaxation techniques.
If you can't get enough fiber from your diet, consider powdered psyllium. Available at health food stores, it is a quality source of supplemental fiber, but it must be used with adequate water to make it effective. Start with one rounded tablespoon of the powder stirred into a glass of water or diluted juice. Drink it down and follow it with another full glass of water.
Read more about digestive health.