Being constipated means your bowel movements are either not as frequent as they should be or they are difficult. It is one of the most common health issues, as everyone gets constipated every now and then. Though the frequency of bowel movements may vary from person to person, going longer than three days can lead one to experience various symptoms. While it is quite normal for anyone not to poop once in a while but chronic constipation can imply a serious health issue.
This article will talk about constipation and its symptoms. It will also guide you through what to do when constipated. You will get some simple tips and remedies to ease the passing of dry, hard stools and thereby help bring relief from constipation.
Bear in mind that none of the information in this article is meant to diagnose or treat any type of medical condition. The information given is strictly for informational purposes and should never be used as an alternative to your doctor’s professional medical advice. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting with any supplement or any other remedy.
1. Drinking Enough Water Every Day, Keeps Constipation at Bay
Drinking enough fluids can work wonders for the constipated. People who suffer from constipation often experience:
- Few bowel movements
- Hard or small stools
- Difficulty in passing stool
- A feeling that everything did not come out
- Swollen abdomen
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
Dehydration tends to make things worse for the constipated. Your stool is largely composed of water. In fact, feces contain as much as 75 percent water. So when you are dehydrated, your colon absorbs more water which removes water from the stool leaving it hard. This makes it difficult to pass the stools and enhances the symptoms of constipation.
To avoid dehydration, make sure you drink at least eight to ten glasses of water every day. Also, you must avoid caffeinated beverages as they cause dehydration.
Here are some tips on how you can increase your daily water consumption:
- Always keep a bottle with you.
- Take small sips instead of bigger ones. This way, you will end up drinking more water.
- Take a detour to your kitchen to drink a glass of water on your way to the washroom.
- Eat fruits rich in water. Such fruits include:
- Avoid drinking carbonated beverages. These beverages exacerbate dehydration.
2. What to Do When Constipated: Include More Fiber in Your Diet
If you want to know what to eat when constipated, here is a tip. Fiber is an important food constituent that can help to improve your digestion.
There are two types of fiber that can help treat constipation:
- Soluble Fiber: It is most abundant in foods like legumes, grains, fruits and flax seeds.
- Insoluble Fiber: It is rich in skins of fruits, brown rice and green vegetables.
Both are essential in maintaining a healthy digestive system. Soluble fiber helps your stool retain more water, which makes the stool softer and easier to pass. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, adds bulk to the stool which prevents the feeling of incomplete bowel movement.
Dietary fibers also help you to lose weight. Since they take longer to digest, they can help keep hunger pangs at bay and keep you from binging on junk food. To include fiber to your diet eat foods that are rich in fiber. Also, you may want to pay attention to the labels when you buy food. The nutrition chart on the label often indicates the amount of fiber content in the food that you are buying.
Here is the list of foods with the highest fiber content:
- Black beans
- Lima beans
3. Maintain a Good Go-to-Bathroom Routine
Have you ever wondered why you tend to visit the bathroom same time every day? It is not a coincidence, but just the way your body works. You get a feeling to pass stool when your intestines start to contract. The contractions of your gut are called peristalsis. The peristaltic movements of your gut are strongest during one particular time of the day, mostly mornings.
The good thing is that you can tune the movements of your gut. Establishing and maintaining a schedule for bowel movements can help ease and prevent constipation. Set aside some time every day to visit the bathroom and take your time while you are in there even though nothing happens. Relax and let your body catch on. You will eventually be able to relieve yourself.
4. Use Baking Soda as a Natural Solution to Constipation
Baking soda works incredibly well when it comes to relieving constipation. Those who have suffered from constipation will know that this is no laughing matter. Constipation can be quite uncomfortable and can make one quite sick. Baking soda helps to relieve pain by releasing the air from the stomach, through one way or another. It also encourages things to pass through your gut.
For this remedy to work, you would need:
- A teaspoon of baking soda. It is the same baking soda you use in making cakes and pastries.
- A quarter-cup of lukewarm water.
Here is what you need to do:
- Mix the teaspoon of baking soda into the lukewarm water.
- Drink the mixture quickly and let it work.
- This remedy would work best if you drink this mixture early in the mornings.
Warning: Here is a word of caution for you. Avoid this remedy if you have high blood pressure or a heart or kidney condition. Baking soda is high in sodium, something not suitable for you if you have any of these conditions.
5. Do Not Hold Your Poop Back
Ignoring the nature’s call can encourage constipation. The longer you hold it, the more water gets absorbed from the stool, which makes the stool hard and later makes it difficult for you to relieve yourself. Your body has a way of signaling that you need to let it go. It only signals about the bowel movement for only a certain amount of time.
This is the reason why if you do not go to the bathroom when you badly need to go, you do not feel like you have to go after some time. Delaying to go to the bathroom will make your guts more clogged and as the stool loses water to become hard, you will feel more and more constipated.
6. Let the Good Bacteria Help Your Digestion
Not all bacteria are bad. Some bacteria in your gut are good for you as they promote digestion. Probiotics or the beneficial bacteria found in yogurt can help ease constipation. Research shows that probiotics help increase the number of weekly bowel movements. In this regard, the probiotics that contain Bifidobacterium are the most effective in treating constipation.
You can include the following foods to your diet that contain probiotics which help improve digestion and keep digestive problems like constipation at bay:
- Yogurt: It is one of the best sources of lactic acid bacteria or Bifidobacterium.
- Kefir: It is a fermented probiotic milk drink which is made by adding Kefir grains to milk. Kefir grains are not whole grains but a culture of lactic acid bacteria which promotes digestion.
- Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is a finely shredded cabbage that is fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It also contains antioxidants and is rich in fiber.
- Buttermilk: Traditional buttermilk, which is the leftover liquid after butter is made, contains probiotics. The cultured buttermilk found in the supermarkets generally does not contain probiotics.
- Cheese: These include cheeses like Gouda, Mozzarella, Cheddar and Cottage cheese. Though all cheese is fermented, not all of them are rich in probiotics. The good bacteria reside only in the mentioned cheeses. These are also highly nutritious and a good source of protein.
You can also take probiotic supplements to have the same effects on your health as these foods. These super healthy probiotic foods not only bring relief from constipation but are also rich in other nutrition that benefits your body in more than one way.
7. How a Natural Squatting Position Can Benefit You
What to do when constipated on the toilet? Squatting position for relieving oneself has many benefits for the digestive system:
- Squatting makes the elimination of the stool faster and easier.
- It prevents fecal stagnation which can give rise to diseases like colon cancer, appendicitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
- It protects the nerves that lead to the prostate, bladder and uterus from getting damaged.
- Helps to relax the muscle which chokes the rectum to promote bowel movement.
- It prevents straining of the colon as your thighs work to support.
More and more people suffering from constipation in the West are moving towards the original position of relieving oneself, which is squatting. Many contraptions are available in the market to help people to squat on the Western toilet.
8. Detoxify From Inside to Help your Bowels Moving
Your gut loves lemon juice. Freshly squeezed lemon helps to stimulate your digestive system and promotes the flushing of toxins and undigested food out of the colon. Also, drinking lemon juice with water helps you to consume the adequate amount of fluids which again keeps constipation at bay. To help everything move normally again, squeeze the juice from one lemon into a cup of warm water. Sip it slowly.
To maximize its benefits, drink this in the morning on an empty stomach and attempt a bowel movement. You can also drink it before going to bed which will help loosen fecal matter while you sleep. Take this drink twice a day until your bowel movements get regular. Lemon juice also contains vitamin C which can give you good skin and help to boost your immunity.
9. Exercise Helps Prevent Constipation
Experts suggest that exercise is essential for a good bowel movement. Exercise helps to decrease the time food takes to move through your large intestine. Also, exercise stimulates your heart rate which in turn affects the contraction of the large intestine. This helps the stool to move out without much effort.
However, you must not exercise immediately after a heavy meal. Exercise makes the blood flow towards your heart while a heavy meal requires the blood to flow towards your digestive system for digestion. Therefore, exercising right after a heavy meal leads to poor digestion. It can eventually cause bloating and indigestion.
To relieve yourself of constipation, regularly walk for 10 to 15 minutes. You may also opt for aerobic exercises like jogging, swimming or dancing. These exercises keep the digestive tract healthy and thereby prevent constipation.
10. Cut Back on Unhealthy Foods With High Amounts of Fat and Salt
Highly processed foods are unhealthy. They negatively impact your health as well as inhibit smooth functioning of your digestive system. Highly processed cereals and over-cooked grains can cause constipation just as deep fried and high salt or sugar content foods.
The previous sections have already discussed how you can prevent constipation by increasing your intake of fiber. However, another way you can prevent constipation is by decreasing your intake of processed, refined and junk food.
Here are some foods that you must avoid in order to prevent constipation:
- Potato Chips: Since potato chips can easily replace a healthy snack alternative that has more fiber content, they are one of the reasons why many people suffer from constipation. High-fat content in potato chips delays the process of digestion which also leads to constipation.
- Frozen Dinners: Though frozen dinners are convenient, they do not contain half the nutrients that their freshly cooked alternatives contain. They are also often low in fiber and high in fat and salt which promote dehydration and make you constipated.
- Cookies: A form of refined carbohydrates, cookies are low in fiber and fluid. They cause constipation for the same reason as frozen dinners and potato chips. Choose fresh fruits for dessert over cookies to consume fiber that prevents constipation.
- Fried Food: Fried foods like donuts, onion rings, French fries, breaded fish and chicken dishes can cause constipation as they contain a high amount of fat and salt which dehydrate the body. Your body also takes a long time to digest which also leads to constipation.
- Fizzy Soda, Alcohol and Caffeinated Beverages: As already mentioned, these drinks promote constipation. The reason why these drinks slow your bowel movements is because these extract a lot of water from your gut, making your stool hard and difficult to pass.
You must replace these food options with healthy alternatives like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. They contain a high amount of fiber which helps to clear your gut. Also, as fiber helps retain water in your body, these healthy foods help to keep constipation at bay.
11. Blackstrap Molasses Makes a Good Home Remedy for Constipation
Blackstrap molasses is high in calories. Therefore, you must limit its use. However, when used occasionally, they work as an excellent laxative. You can take two tablespoons of Blackstrap molasses before going to bed.
Blackstrap molasses is available as thick, dark syrup that is derived from pure cane sugar.
Blackstrap molasses is also rich in:
- Vitamin B6
Blackstrap molasses also helps to restore the pH balance of the stomach as it is alkaline in nature. It improves digestion, prevents irritable bowel movements and soothes stomach aches.
12. Coffee: A Drink with Added Benefits Besides Waking You Up
You may remember from previous sections that caffeinated beverages cause constipation. Isn’t coffee a caffeinated beverage, too? This is a valid question. The answer to this question lies in how frequently you drink coffee. If you are a coffee addict; this will promote dehydration and constipation. However, drinking one or two cups of coffee a day actually promotes bowel movements.
Like all bitter tasting foods, coffee can help to bring relief from constipation. Also, since it is a warm drink, it also helps to relax your gut and thus promotes the smooth passing of stool.
If you do not like coffee, you can try Oregon grape, an herb which has the similar effect on your digestive system as coffee does. The root of this plant has been used since old times to help people with constipation. You can mix half teaspoon of Oregon grape tincture in water and drink it before a meal.
13. Use Epsom Salt for Relief
Epsom salt may look like table salt but its constituents are entirely different. It helps retain water in your intestines. This makes stool soft and therefore easier to pass. You may dissolve two to four teaspoons of epsom salt in eight ounces of water and drink immediately. If you find the taste of epsom salt unbearable, you can add few drops of lemon juice to enhance the taste.
Warning: Talk to your doctor before giving your child any home remedy. In this case, the dosage of epsom salt for children may vary. Also, you must consult your doctor before taking epsom salt if you have:
- Kidney disease
- Magnesium restricted diet
- Stomach ache
Since epsom salt is a laxative, it may have side effects like:
Make sure you do not overuse epsom salt as overuse can cause electrolyte imbalance in your body. It induces bowel movement within 30 minutes to about six hours after its consumption; however, it only brings temporary relief. If you want to cure constipation completely, you must change your diet to include fibrous foods and increase your water intake.
14. Choose an Effective IBS Relief System
You may choose medication or a laxative like epsom salt to bring relief from constipation, but you can also choose one of the IBS relief systems available in the market to naturally cure constipation. IBS relief system by Digestive Science is capable of bringing long lasting relief from IBS. If you suffer from constipation often, it is quite likely that you may have IBS. In that case, this system will work wonders.
Scientifically designed to restore the harmony of your digestive system, IBS relief system by Digestive Science introduces good bacteria and enzymes into your system and naturally eliminates constipation and other digestive problems.
You may also try Intensive colon cleanse by Digestive Science. It is designed to flush harmful toxins out of your colon and thereby promote better digestion and better health.
15. Eat a Piece of Dark Chocolate as a Constipation Remedy
Dark chocolate has endless health benefits. It is effective in the treatment of constipation. It is a rich source of magnesium. Magnesium helps relax the muscles of your digestive tract and helps to ease the passing of stool. You can also take magnesium gluconate supplements in place of dark chocolate. But to naturally eliminate constipation, it is better to eat chocolate that contains 72 percent cocoa.
This article had talked about what to do when constipated. You can learn more about constipation by visiting managebowelmovements.com. This website contains information about irritable bowel syndrome and constipation remedies that you can safely implement to find relief. If you want to find out what to do when constipated for a week, talk to your doctor. The longer you delay addressing constipation, more you will let constipation negatively affect your health.
You can get constipated after surgery. You must talk to your surgeon to know what to do when constipated after surgery. Your surgeon might be able to change certain medications in order to prevent constipation.
Also, if you are pregnant and want to know what to do when constipated and pregnant, you can refer to the tips on what to do when constipated home remedies in this article; however, if you wish to use any artificial laxative, you must talk to your doctor before doing so.
In addition, consult your doctor to know what to do when constipated and laxatives don’t work. There might be a different problem your digestive system is dealing with, that needs the attention of a healthcare expert.