Kate is a mother of two and holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from Sonoma State University. She's also a passionate researcher.
Constipation can have a serious impact on your mental health and physical well-being. For some, the effects of constipation can only be seen in their irregular bowel movement schedule and not in their body. For others, however, constipation can cause hard stools, abdominal pain, and rectal bleeding. If constipation becomes severe, it can even become impacted in your intestines and prevent further bowel movements from occurring. No matter which end of the spectrum you are on, here are 10 natural ways to help you relieve your constipation problems:
1. Increase Your Water Intake
Water is necessary if you want to have a healthy digestive system. Without water, your body is not able to carry fiber, increase your muscle function, and process nutrients to make your stool pass easier. How much water should you be drinking daily? Well, a good rule to stick by is 8 to 16 ounces of water every 2 hours. However, you can adjust these numbers if you find that it may be too much or too little. Over-hydration is as much of a concern as dehydration is.
2. Consume Foods High in Fiber
Fiber is a nutrient that promotes regular bowel movements and softens the stool, making it easier to pass when it comes time to go to the bathroom. Luckily, we can find fiber naturally in foods, although there are supplements out there that you can add to your food and water. What are these high fiber foods we should be consuming? Here are a few that you should add to your daily diet:
- Raw fruit such as apples, bananas, and raspberries(Be careful, however. Too much fruit can add too much sugar and cause negative side-effects to your digestion.
- Raw vegetables such as avocados, turnips, and carrots
- All beans
- Most nuts and seeds
- Whole wheat grains
You also need to know that there are two kinds of fibers: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibers: These are typically found in nuts and beans and help to make your stool softer.
Insoluble fibers: These are typically found in whole grains and help to make your stool pass through your system easier.
Try to incorporate both of these fibers into your diet for maximum benefits.
Sometimes, constipation may be a side-effect of a medical condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). While you add these foods to your diet, try to also cut out unhealthy foods that you were previously consuming. This will ensure that you tackle your constipation and improve your overall health.
3. Drink Warm Liquids
Warm liquids are known to be able to improve your digestion. To get the most out of this benefit, drink warm liquids in the morning to kick-start the process. An herbal tea is one of the first liquids that you should look into since it will contain the added benefits of whatever herb you brew. Peppermint tea, dandelion tea, and fennel tea are all great herbal teas to start off with.
4. Consider Adding Coffee to Your Day
Coffee is considered to be both beneficial and harmful to your bowels. On one hand, coffee contains some soluble fiber and the caffeine in the coffee activates the muscles in your digestive system. On the other hand, caffeine can cause dehydration and worsen the symptoms of constipation.
If you plan on drinking coffee or if you already do, make sure to drink plenty of fluids to counteract the effects of the caffeine. You may also want to mix your coffee so that it is half caffeinated and half decaffeinated. This will reduce the risk of consuming too much caffeine and worsening your constipation symptoms.
5. Eat Your Leafy Greens
Besides fiber, green, leafy vegetables also contain magnesium, which is known to alleviate constipation. Along with some of the foods mentioned in the second section, also add vegetables such as kale, lettuce, and spinach. These foods can be consumed raw and cooked.
6. Take Natural Supplements
Along with a proper diet, there are plenty of supplements that can be taken to relieve constipation. Most supplements come in pill form and are natural ground herbs or oils. Here are a few that you can look into:
- Aloe Vera (Juice or Leaf)
- Psyllium Husk
- Cod Liver Oil
Regarding the suggestions mentioned in this section and in the one below, always do your research and consult with your physician before you decide to take any supplement or natural laxative.
7. Use Natural Laxatives Occasionally
Using laxatives regularly to deal with your constipation will only create more problems for your digestive system and your health. However, there are times when you need a laxative in order to go to the bathroom and get your digestive system back on track. If you are in need of a laxative, always try a natural alternative first. Here are some that you may want to take next time you are feeling constipated.
- Vitamin C (This one will only provide the desired effect if taken in large doses. However, do the proper research before attempting to use Vitamin C as a laxative.)
- Aloe Vera gel or juice
- Garlic Extract
- Slipper Elm
- Cascara Segrada
- Flax Seed Oil
8. Create an Exercise Regimen
Exercise is the answer to almost every physical ailment. Beside the positive physical and mental benefits that you will receive from exercising, it also stimulates the intestinal muscles. Exercises that achieve this purpose include walking, jogging, and yoga. If you are unable to engage in these types of exercises, you may want to look into an easier exercise such as swimming.
Video: Additional Home Remedies for Quick Constipation Relief
9. Reduce Stress in Your Life
Stress has the ability to change many processes within our body. When we feel overly stressed, it can affect the way that we digest foods and change our diet by making us crave unhealthy foods.
You can combat stress by engaging in relaxing activities such as spending more time in nature, spending time with your friends, or meditating. While you do these things, you should also attempt to cut extra stress out of your life and replace it with relaxing activities.
10. Look Into Biofeedback Therapy
Biofeedback therapy is not for everyone but it may just help you with your constipation issues. What is biofeedback therapy? It is a type of therapy designed to help you control bodily functions that are considered involuntary, such as your heart rate or your skin temperature. For those suffering from constipation, this type of therapy is said to help you relax your intestinal muscles, which makes it easier to pass stool.
The most important thing to remember is that natural methods can only achieve so much. There will be occasions where you may need to turn to prescription medications or other methods in order to relieve your constipation. If you feel as though your constipation is affecting your health or if you are experiencing bleeding and pain, contact your doctor immediately in order to receive professional medical care.
"5 Simple Supplements That Improve Bowel Movement." October 30, 2017. Sepalika. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
"Constipation Definition and Facts." January 5, 2018. Jay W. Marks, MD. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
"Overview of Biofeedback." (nd). WebMD. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Kate Daily
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 26, 2018:
This is an interesting article that could be very helpful for some people. Thanks for sharing the information, Kate.