Natural Remedies for Constipation
It might not be the most fun thing to talk about, but the truth is, constipation is a totally common and treatable condition that affects people of all ages and backgrounds, so we are going to talk about natural remedies for constipation.
If you have ever had difficulty with bowel movements or have gone days without one, you are probably among the 2.5 million people struggling from constipation (often in silence). Though it can be embarrassing to talk about, it should not be, since constipation is a very treatable issue in most cases.
There are many natural remedies for constipation that do a better job than over the counter laxatives and will truly heal the cause, rather than only temporarily alleviate symptoms.
What Is Constipation?
First off, let’s identify what constipation is. The formal definition is when you have less than three bowel movements per week or when stools are dry and hard. Other possible symptoms include belly bloating, a feeling like you cannot empty your bowels fully, stools that require straining or stressing to pass, or going longer than three days between bowel movements.
In a healthy digestive system, going to the bathroom should be pain-free and easy, so when complications emerge it is a sign that something is off internally.
What Causes Constipation?
In a healthy digestive system, our colon is responsible for turning the food we eat into waste by pulling water from what we put into our bodies. When we become constipated, the colon is unable to do this task and the result is infrequent or hard stools.
The good news is that in most cases, this lack of function is caused by our lifestyle choices (meaning we are in control of making healthy changes that can cure it). The most common causes of constipation are dehydration, eating a diet too low in fiber (which is key to add weight and softness to the stool) or other lifestyle related issues like a lack of exercise, stress, or change in routine due to travel or moving.
In other more severe cases, constipation can also be caused by diseases, such as diabetes or Parkinson’s, or underlying issues affecting the colon like irritable bowel syndrome. Hormones can also be to blame, like in the case of hormonal imbalance or pregnancy.
Ironically, if you are overusing laxatives to treat constipation, this can actually worsen the issue (another reason choosing natural treatments is the healthiest option long-term).
How to Prevent and Treat Constipation With Natural Remedies
As the saying goes, prevention is the best medicine. Many of the best natural remedies for constipation are actually preventative in nature, meaning by taking these simple steps you will be less likely to ever struggle with constipation to begin with. And if you are already suffering from it, these steps are your best bet to curing it and preventing future episodes.
We should all aim to drink at least half of our body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, if you are 160 pounds, shoot for 80 ounces of water. If you need some variety, try adding lemon, frozen berries, or cucumber to water, or drinking herbal tea. Avoid beverages like soda, sugary vitamin waters, or excessive caffeine.
Eat More Fiber
Most of us on a standard, modern diet are woefully lacking in fiber. You should be aiming for at least 25 grams per day which is easy to surpass if you are eating plant based foods like beans, oats, grains, and fruits. Meats, dairy, cheese, and processed options tend to be devoid of fiber, so make sure to reach for plant based foods at each meal. It’s easy to get plenty from your food, but a fiber supplement is the next best option if you need a little help.
Many of us spend most of our day sedentary which believe it or not, can worsen constipation. To get moving with daily walks, making a conscious effort to park farther away, walk on your lunch breaks, or just stand up and get some movement every half hour or so instead of sitting at your desk for hours. Exercising more is a double whammy since it creates endorphins which lower stress, and stress is another common cause of constipation.
Keep a Regular Bathroom Routine
Resisting the urge to go when you do need to can contribute to constipation, making stools harder. So, when you need to go, get to a bathroom as soon as you can.
When to See a Doctor
If you have tried making these lifestyle changes and your constipation is not improving, or if you notice sudden changes to your stool or experience pain of any kind, contact your medical provider immediately.
Our stools and bowel movements contain many clues about our overall health, so listen to what your body is trying to tell you and if natural remedies do not improve, seek out your doctor’s help in getting to the underlying issue.