Millions of individuals experience constipation each year. There are many things that can cause uncomfortable irregularity, including your diet, your lifestyle choices, your hydration level, your stress level, your medications, and any other underlying medical conditions.
Constipation is characterized by:
- Dry, hard, or lumpy bowel movements
- Difficulty passing stools
- Feeling as if all of your stool has not passed
- Having fewer than 3 bowel movements each week
- Pain experienced during defecation
Constipation can negatively impact your life. When you are plagued with this uncomfortable condition, it can affect your physical health, as well as your mental health. Luckily, there are many natural remedies for constipation that you can begin incorporating into your daily life.
1. Dietary changes
One of the most common reasons for constipation is a lack of fiber in the diet. In today’s busy world, it is quite easy to grab food that lacks fiber. Having a meal with little to no fiber occasionally will not hurt you; however, the cumulative effects of fiber deficiency are felt when fecal impaction kicks in.
Once you begin experiencing irregularity, the need for fiber in your diet becomes more important. Eating fiber rich foods can help prevent and relieve this painful digestive woe.
Once you become constipated, you should begin increasing the amount of fiber rich foods in your diet. Some of the best foods to incorporate into your diet include fruits and vegetables like apples, broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and raspberries. You should also add nuts, seeds, and whole grains into your diet to increase your fiber consumption.
Incorporating fiber rich foods into every meal is a great way to reduce the risk of constipation. Getting between 5 and 10 grams of fiber at each meal can help alleviate this problem. Typically, women should consume around 25 grams of fiber each day while men should consume about 30 grams of fiber each day.
2. Lifestyle changes and exercise
Did you know that your lifestyle choices can impact your digestive health and lead to irregularity? This is especially important later in life as digestion naturally slows. Luckily, there are several lifestyle changes that you can make to improve digestion and prevent or relieve constipation.
When the urge to have a bowel movement hits, don’t ignore it. Everyone feels more comfortable having a bowel movement in the privacy and comfort of their own home; however, when the urge hits, you should immediately go to the bathroom. If you make a habit of not going when the urge hits, over time, those signals can weaken. If you suffer from chronic digestive issues, it is especially important to immediately go as soon as the urge hits.
Exercise is another important lifestyle change that can help improve your gut motility. Daily exercise helps strengthen your bowel muscles, speed up how fast your food is digested, and improve blood circulation. For best results, get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days. Walking, jogging, swimming, and any other type of moderate aerobic activity help stimulate the muscles in your intestines to help counteract constipation.
3. Increase in intake of water
Dehydration is one of the leading causes of fecal impaction. When you are dehydrated, your feces can become hard and can become difficult to pass. When you do not drink enough fluids, your bowel muscles can become stiff, which can make passing fecal material harder.
Increasing your intake of water leads to softening of your stool as well as increasing the effectiveness of bowel muscles. For best results, drink most water or other types of clear liquids and get at least 8 glasses of water a day to keep this condition at bay.
Health experts recommend drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake in the morning. Furthermore, experts agree that it is better to sip on water throughout the day rather than downing 8 glasses of water. Staying hydrated throughout the day ensures your intestines function properly and keep your fecal matter soft.
Finally, you should avoid consuming sugary drinks like sodas as they can actually increase your risk of developing constipation. You can enjoy other drinks that can help relieve your digestive woes, including hot coffee, green tea, black tea, or fruit juices.
In addition, avoid alcoholic drinks as well as caffeinated drinks as they dehydrate the body and lead to fluid loss through urination.
4. Live a stress free life
Stress does more than just cause you to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and anxious. It can also impact your health. In fact, many chronic diseases like diabetes and chronic problems like constipation can occur when you are under stress.
Stress causes changes throughout your body. It can impact your hormone levels, it can cause systemic inflammation, and it can dehydrate the body. Each of these can increase your risk of developing digestive problems.
Learning how to decrease your stress levels and embrace a stress free life is the first step towards preventing and relieving this painful condition. There are many things you can do to decrease your stress levels, including practicing stress reduction techniques.
Stress reduction techniques including deep breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi, meditation, and journaling are great ways to effectively reduce your stress levels and reduce the risk of fecal impaction, and reduced gut motility. If you are under chronic stress, employing stress reduction techniques along with talk therapy can help improve your gastrointestinal health.
5. Avoid dairy products and cheese
Dairy products like milk, cheese, and ice cream contain a milk protein called lactose. If you are lactose intolerant, it can affect gut motility and cause gas, bloating, and fecal impaction.
If you are experiencing chronic constipation, remove these dairy products from your diet and see if your condition improves. If your symptoms improve, you are lactose intolerant. The most common reason for lactose intolerance is the body does not make enough lactase, which is the digestive enzyme used to break down lactose.
Being lactose intolerant does not mean that you have to completely avoid dairy. There are specialized dairy products that are lactose free. In addition to this, you can take a dairy digestive enzyme that contains lactase to help relieve your digestive problems caused by lactose intolerance.
6. Get a good night's sleep
Your body requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to function properly. While you sleep, your body makes repairs to damaged tissues and your body makes the hormones that it needs to function properly. Believe it or not, sleep deprivation can cause constipation. Luckily, there are several things you can do to get a good night’s sleep.
Practicing good sleep hygiene is the first step towards getting a good night’s sleep and improving your digestive health. You will need to go to sleep at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. This activity helps reset your circadian rhythm so you can get a full night’s sleep.
Finally, turn off blue emitting electronic devices including the television, your cellphone, your tablet, and your computer at least two hours before bedtime. Lower the temperature of your bedroom a couple of degrees, use room darkening blinds or curtains, and white noise machines to help you stay asleep.
Constipation is a digestive condition that can seriously impede your day to day life. It can cause abdominal cramping, bloating, and gas. Luckily, there are several changes you can do to relieve your discomfort and prevent it from coming back. First, always go as soon as the urge hits. This will help train your body to relax and make it easier to pass your bowel movements. In addition to this, eat a healthy diet filled with fiber, get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, sip on water throughout the day, and get plenty of sleep.