You are not alone if you too are having trouble pooping. Around 8 million visits to doctors in the US result from constipation. It is an inconvenient issue faced by millions across the globe; not only does it get difficult to pass stools, but constipation is also accompanied by bloating, pain, and discomfort. Although having trouble every now and then is normal, but a poor bathroom performance affecting the quality of life needs a solution.
So, how do you define constipation?
You are said to have constipation if you have less than 3 bowel movements in a 7 day period.
Causes of constipation may vary from person to person. The common ones include sedentary lifestyle, food high in dairy products, low-carb diet, stress, medicines, an imbalance of gut flora, certain multivitamins, pregnancy, and undiagnosed medical conditions.
While consumers spend millions of dollars on prescriptions to relieve their constipation, you don’t have to do the same. There are many home remedies that can help you improve the bowel movements.
23 Simple Home Remedies To Relieve Constipation
Read on to find out about 23 constipation-relieving home remedies that actually work.
1. Keep yourself hydrated
Despite its availability everywhere, we give poor performance when it comes to drinking adequate water. Surprisingly, some people have their intake as low as 500ml.
But how does it relate to constipation?
One of the most common causes of constipation is less intake of water. Drinking fewer water results in its withdrawal from the colon to meet the body’s requirements. Whereas, if you are well hydrated, little water is pulled from the colon, and therefore, stools are soft and comfortable to pass.
2. Fiber helps
Individuals who eat food items made from refined grains lack in their fiber intake. Fiber, being an important component of our daily food intake, increase the bulk of bowel movements and makes stool easier to pass.
According to one study, more than 70 percent of the participants who suffered from chronic constipation benefited from fiber intake.
Fiber is generally divided into two types.
A. Soluble fiber: It improves the consistency of stools. Good sources of soluble fiber include
- Oat Bran
- Fruits (oranges, apples, carrots)
B. Insoluble fiber: It adds bulk to your stools, therefore, helping it pass more quickly and efficiently through the digestive tract. Good sources of insoluble fiber include
- Leafy green
- Fruit skin
Note that insoluble fiber has not shown to be of vital importance regarding constipation. In fact, it can make the problem worse for those with inflammatory bowel disease. It is best to go for a mix of soluble and insoluble forms.
Recommended fiber intake for men: 38 grams/day
Recommended fiber intake for women: 25 grams/day
Try eating more fiber in your diet. You can also add psyllium to your diet; it’s a soluble non-fermentable fiber.
Foods that have high fiber content are given below.
- Kidney beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Chia seeds
3. Exercise helps relieve constipation
Do you remember from the earlier part of this article that a sedentary lifestyle is a contributing factor to constipation?
So, if you have slow bowel moments, some exercise might help speed things up.
Although people mostly think of exercise as a muscle toning activity, it does more than that. Exercise also plays a role in bowel movements. Try these physical activities to improve the natural contraction of your abdominal muscles thus making the stools move out quickly:
- Swing dancing
4. Herbal laxative
Senna is a commonly used herbal laxative. It contains a plant compound, glycoside, that speeds up the bowel movements through nerve stimulation in the gut.
You can easily get Senna from a nearby pharmacy or can even order online. It is safe for use in adults. However, senna is not recommended for pregnant ladies, nursing mothers, and individuals with certain health conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.
Keep in mind that senna is not to be used for long periods of time.
5. Take probiotic food or supplements
Individuals with chronic constipation often have poor gut health and an imbalance of gut bacteria. Probiotics help with reattaining the correct balance. Therefore, it is thought that they may help prevent chronic constipation.
Other than that, probiotics also produce lactic acid and short chain fatty acids that improve the gut movements, therefore, helping with the smooth passage of stools.
Where to find probiotics?
Go for yogurt, kimchi, miso, kombucha, tempeh, and sauerkraut that have live and friendly bacteria.
Most laxatives are available as over-the-counter products. These substances increase bowel movements and loosen the stool.
Laxatives are of the following types:
1. Stimulants: these laxatives increase the bowel movements by stimulating the gut nerves.
2. Bulking agents: they increase the water content of your stool and are composed mainly of fiber.
3. Osmotic laxatives: these laxatives pull water from the surrounding tissue and add it to the stool.
4. Stool softeners: These are oil-based products that help soften the stool and hence the smooth passage of stools through the digestive tract.
Although regular use of laxatives is not a good choice, occasional use is harmless when other methods fail.
It is basically a soluble fiber that helps relieve constipation. Glucomannan is taken as supplements or in the form of shirataki noodles. It improves the bowel movements as well as the balance of gut-friendly bacteria.
8. Prebiotic foods
Most people confuse prebiotics with probiotics. To keep it simple, just remember that PRE-biotics are the type of fiber that feeds healthy bacteria in your gut, whereas PRO-biotics are the beneficial bacteria themselves.
Prebiotics help relieve constipation through their positive effects on the digestive health. They feed the healthy gut bacteria and improve the bacterial balance that is required for proper gut functioning.
Foods high in prebiotic fiber include
- Chicory root
- Dandelion greens
- Earth apple
- Barley and Oat
9. Take magnesium citrate
High does of magnesium citrate are used to clean out the bowel before certain medical procedures. It is an osmotic laxative that is available over-the-counter.
Moderate amounts of this laxative can help against constipation.
The dried plum – prune – is often ignored by many of us. Prunes help with digestion, improve vision, provide antioxidants, and contribute positively to your bone health.
Both prunes and prune juice are used as a natural remedy to relieve constipation. They contain fiber and sorbitol that has a natural laxative effect.
Around 50 grams of prunes are usually recommended two times per day for effective results. However, you should avoid prunes in the case of inflammatory bowel syndrome.
11. Sesame seeds
If you take sesame seeds in hand, you’d realize that they have an oily composition. This oil helps moisturize the intestines and make it easy for dry stools to pass through your intestines.
You can add these seeds to cereals and salads, or sprinkle the crushed form over food to help relieve constipation.
People have experienced that a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses relieves constipation. Take it before bedtime.
13. Mint and ginger tea
Some of you might be interested in mint and ginger teas because of their taste. Others use it to speed up that sluggish bowel movement. Menthol in mint has an antispasmodic effect and ginger stimulates digestion.
Hot water in these teas also plays a role in relieving constipation. You can also try dandelion tea as it also has a laxative effect.
14. Healthy fat
Constipation is eased when intestines are lubricated. Olive oils, avocados, and different nuts contain healthy fats that lubricate the intestines and reduce constipation.
Some good options for consuming healthy fat include:
- olive oil dressing over salad
- a small handful of mixed nuts
- some peanut butter on toast
15. Lemon water
Lemon juice contains citric acid that works as a digestive stimulant and provides relief from constipation. You just need to squeeze a lemon into a glass of warm water and drink it in the morning.
Tartaric acid and fiber in raisins provide constipation relief. Eat a small handful of raisins mixed with nuts. It’ll help you with the bowel movements.
17. Castor oil
This home remedy has been famous for generations. In fact, one of the primary uses of castor oil is to ease constipation.
If you are constipated, take 1-2 teaspoons of castor oil on an empty stomach and you shall see the results in 8-10 hours.
18. Low-FODMAP diet
FODMAP means fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.
The low FODMAP diet is mostly used to treat inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS). It involves the elimination of high-FODMAP foods which are later introduced to see which ones are tolerated better.
If your constipation is related to IBS, low-FODMAP diet along with adequate water and fiber intake can help you.
Here’s a list of high-FODMAP foods and their low-FODMAP alternatives.
Low-FODMAP swaps: Brown rice, maize, oats, and millet
Low-FODMAP swap: Asafoetida
Low-FODMAP swaps: Chives, turmeric, fenugreek, ginger, lemongrass, chili, and saffron.
High-FODMAP legumes and pulses
- Baked beans
- Butter beans
- Kidney beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Broad beans
- Chickpeas and soybeans
- Chicory leaves
- Brussels sprouts
- Bean sprouts
- Dessert wine
- Chai tea
- Chamomile tea
- Coconut water
- Peppermint tea
- Black tea
- White tea
- Green tea
Learn more about FODMAP Diet here.
19. Try this sitting technique
Use a small stool (about 6 inches) to support your feet while sitting on the toilet. This position helps flex your hips and keep the pelvis in squatting position that aids in the bowel movement.
20. Keep your bathroom-breaks scheduled
Following a regular bathroom-break schedule can help prevent bouts of constipation. Keep a routine like going to the bathroom before bedtime and in the morning.
You do not necessarily have to follow this routine, but having a specific time for this purpose can help.
21. Use coconut oil
A tablespoon of coconut oil can help lubricate your intestines. If you don’t feel like swallowing the oil as such, you can use it as a salad dressing or even brew it with your coffee.
22. Shop glycerin
Rectal glycerine suppositories can be used for occasional constipation relief. Follow the directions given on the inside label. Note that this remedy is not to be regularly used.
23. Drink coffee
You might have experienced the urge to use the washroom after drinking a cup of coffee. This isn’t an abnormal reaction. In fact, it’s good news if you frequently experience constipation.
Just grab a cup of coffee, and you are a step closer to receiving your constipation.
Foods that make constipation worse
Along with home remedies for relieving constipation, it is also important to take note of the foods that can make your problem worse.
Just as there are foods that help relieve constipation, there are others that make it difficult to pass stools.
You need to avoid these foods to prevent constipation:
- Unripe bananas
- Processed grains
- Red meat
- Dairy products
- Fried items
- Fast food
- Processed grains
We have all been caught in that awkward condition where bloating and gas is there, but the stool refuses to pass through the track. No matter how much we strain our bodies, nothing passes out, and we are left with the depletion of energy.
It even happens at the most inappropriate times such as school or office. Luckily, there are home remedies to get that much-needed push. You can try one of the 23 home remedies mentioned in this article, and constipation is no longer a problem for you.