When you feel the urge to pass a bowel movement and yet can't manage to do it, even after straining, you know you have a problem. The discomfort caused by constipation is hard to ignore. You feel the heaviness in your body, your energy levels are lower, and going to the bathroom becomes a very frustrating experience. Constipation is more than just uncomfortable and can cause serious problems like colon cancer, fecal impaction, and other digestive issues.
Many different factors can cause this condition, but some of the common ones are dehydration or not getting enough fiber in your diet. In either case, your stool is too dry to travel through the digestive system smoothly. The good news is that there are several ways to get relief from this common problem. Read on for ten simple remedies for constipation.
1. Drink water regularly
The best thing you can do for yourself when you're constipated is to make sure to hydrate appropriately. Your body's internal environment needs to have plenty of liquid to sufficiently flush the waste out of your system. Drinking plenty of water will not instantly fix your problem since hydration is a gradual process. Having a regular habit of drinking eight glasses of water every day will make a significant difference over the next days and weeks. This lifestyle change will help you solve your constipation in the long term. Avoid sugary drinks like sodas and sports drinks because these can make your constipation get worse.
2. Eat plenty of fiber-rich foods
Your diet is one of the main components of having regular bowel movements because you need enough fiber to get the system moving correctly. If you have constipation, increase your intake of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables like potatoes, broccoli, beans, carrots, and apples. These foods have the right texture and bulk to get things going by improving stool consistency. Fiber-rich foods also have the effect of pulling more water into the colon to make the digestion process more effective. While eating more fiber-rich foods will not instantly cure your constipation, incorporating these foods into your lifestyle can prevent constipation episodes in the future.
3. Drink coffee or other warm liquids
When you're looking for immediate relief from the discomfort of constipation, the morning cup of coffee can be your best friend. Many people find that coffee stimulates bowel movements very soon after drinking it. There are certain compounds in coffee responsible for this, including a small amount of fiber. Coffee also stimulated the muscles in your digestive system. Other warm liquids, like tea or soup, can also have this effect.
4. Eat prunes or drink prune juice
Prunes are famous for being a natural remedy for constipation, whether chewing the dried fruit or drinking the juice. Prunes have plenty of fiber, and they also contain sorbitol, which is a natural laxative. Make use of this natural constipation relief by adding prunes to a fiber-rich bowl of breakfast oatmeal.
5. Regular Physical Activity
Getting active, even if it's just by taking regular brisk walks, will help you reduce the chances of getting constipated. Exercise gets your body's systems to be working more efficiently overall. It will improve a variety of body functions, including digestion. If the food spends less time in the large intestine, it also loses less water and can be passed more easily when the time comes. Dr. Todd Watts of Microbe Formulas explains that a simple deficiency in regular exercise or physical activity can cause an individual to experience frequent episodes of constipation. Regular exercise helps your internal muscles work better, which assists the contraction process when making a bowel movement. Having good muscle tone in your colon is crucial to helping it function like it should during defecation. Exercise will strengthen the entire body, including our internal organs, which makes it an essential tool for preventing constipation. Again, this is not an instant fix, but it's a strategy to avoid having this condition in the future.
6. Incorporate an anti-constipation Supplement
If you're struggling with chronic constipation, incorporating a supplement into your diet that supports proper digestion and promotes regular bowel movements. These products combine different natural ingredients that relieve constipation into a formula that you ingest in capsule form. Anti-constipation supplements are generally taken either before or after you eat and are designed to help keep you regular.
7. Use over-the-counter remedies
If you're looking for immediate relief from severe constipation, head to your local pharmacy for a variety of possible solutions. You can either try laxatives, which stimulate the bowel or stool softeners, which makes your stool pass more easily. You should not consider these tools a long term solution, but they do work fast for an immediate improvement of the discomfort. These products should not be overused, and lifestyle changes are the long-term solutions to constipation.
8. Avoid foods that can aggravate constipation
Just like fiber-rich foods can improve your constipation, so can other foods aggravate it. Dairy is one notable culprit in slowing down your gut movements, especially if you have lactose intolerance. Red meat can also worsen constipation and should get replaced with healthier forms of protein like poultry and seafood. Another diet culprit that causes constipation is junk food, including empty calories like chips and cookies. When you're suffering from constipation, you will want to either avoid these foods or reduce them as much as possible.
9. Add probiotics to your diet
Having an imbalance of gut bacteria can cause the digestive system to malfunction, and this can lead to constipation. Probiotics are a way of introducing good bacteria into your system that can bring your gut into a positive balance. Foods like yogurt, kimchi, or sauerkraut are rich in these friendly bacteria, but you can also take probiotic supplements that provide the bacteria in capsule form.
10. Try to be consistent with meals and trips to the bathroom
Having a regular schedule for meals will help your body get into a healthy rhythm that should include your bowel habits. Going without eating for a long time can be a trigger for constipation, as can having an erratic pattern of eating. Getting yourself into a set schedule for meals and moving your bowels is a sensible form of preventing constipation.
The stress and discomfort of constipation can be a struggle, especially once it becomes a chronic condition. Although lifestyle changes are the best way to solve this problem permanently, several short term solutions can bring relief. Be patient and pay attention to your body as you try to heal from this challenging condition.