There is nothing fun about constipation.
Being constipated on a regular basis, not only impacts your physical body's ability to function efficiently, it also causes irritability and can greatly impact your emotional wellbeing.
Whether it's chronic or the occasional bout of constipation, there are some common-sense, natural ways to help you overcome this uncomfortable and abnormal phenomenon.
Realise up front, that the root cause of constipation comes down to dietary and lifestyle choices. For this reason, anything you do to "symptomatically" treat constipation, will do little to address the underlying causes that will otherwise lead you to being frequently constipated in the future.
Natural Remedies to Overcome Constipation
Here we give you 5 simple remedies that you should look to as a starting point if you find yourself being regularly constipated.
1. Hydrate Your Body With Enough Water
Your body is predominantly comprised of water, and when constipation occurs, it's usually a reflection of not enough water running through your body, to help flush out unwanted waste from your digestive system.
Dehydration is one of the main culprits of constipation and an easy one to fix. If you want to prevent sluggish bowels and to help your body function at its peak, drink plenty of clean water.
Start with at least 2 litres per day. And if you engage in rigorous exercise or physical work, you should move towards 1 litre per 22 kilograms of body weight which is optimum if you're losing a lot of fluid regularly through activity and perspiration.
Learn more in Water: Nature’s Best & Why It’s Critical To Life.
2. Drink An Organic Morning Coffee
Ever wonder why that early morning coffee seems to help things along?
It's because coffee is actually supposed to be a morning drink, which ties in perfectly with your body's digestive/elimination cycle.
Coffee actually stimulates your digestive tract's muscles known as the "peristaltic action" of the intestines to get to work in eliminating waste.
Another perk to moderate coffee consumption, is that the polyphenols (or antioxidants) do wonders for maintaining good gut flora and fighting off bad bacteria.
Be sure that you always select organic coffee beans, as commercial grade coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops on earth. To deal with and avoid constipation, you want to do everything you can to ensure that you're avoiding chemical additives and only putting clean fuel into your body.
Also, minimise what you add to your morning coffee in terms of processed milks and sweeteners which detract from the qualities of coffee and the digestive benefits coffee provides. If you can't enjoy straight black coffee, try adding a dash of coconut butter or MCT oil. Alternatively, choose an organic plant based milk, such as coconut, almond or oat milk.
Learn more in Coffee: The Healthy Way To Enjoy Your Daily Cup.
3. Add Prebiotics & Probiotics Into Your Diet
Establishing and maintaining a healthy gut ecology, is perhaps THE most important thing you can do to protect your digestive system and overall health.
The main key to supporting a health gut terrain is to ensure that you're consuming both PRE-biotics and PRO-biotics.
Probiotics are the live strains of beneficial bacteria usually found in fermented foods. Whilst prebiotics are the fibrous, plant nutrients that "feed" the healthy bacteria that probiotics help cultivate.
Your gut is like your "second brain" and when healthy bacteria aren't allowed to form or aren't nourished, it greatly impacts the efficiency of your digestive system and the entire ecosystem of your body.
In fact, it's no coincidence that there is a clear correlation between chronic constipation and an imbalance in the gut microbiome.
To keep your digestive system functioning optimally and to help overcome constipation, it's very important to nurture your gut microbiota with both PRO and PRE biotic foods such as:
- Probiotics: kimchi, yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, miso, kombucha and pickles.
- Prebiotics: asparagus, onions, leeks, garlic, bananas, berries, peas, broccoli and beans.
Learn more in Probiotics: Health Benefits & 7 Powerful Food Sources.
4. Drink Herbal Teas
Historically, herbal teas have been embraced as a natural diuretic and as a remedy for a host of health complaints, including poor digestion and constipation.
The effectiveness of herbal teas as a natural laxative should not be overlooked!
Not only are herbs good for your body in terms of antioxidants, but there is something very calming about holding a warm cup of tea–that is also relaxing and therapeutic in its own right.
The combination of natural laxative herbs and warm water, promote faster transit time inside the digestive tract, whilst helping to alleviate signs of stress (another cause of constipation).
Herbal teas that can help you avoid constipation include:
- Senna: The most commonly used herb that's found in most over-the-counter laxatives.
- Ginger: For sluggish digestion, adding a few thin slices of fresh ginger into a mug of warm water and sipping after a meal, will help soothe the stomach and promote comfortable digestion.
- Peppermint: The menthol in peppermint is beneficial for soothing digestive upset and if consumed after a meal will help calm digestive issues.
- Dandelion: Curb digestive complaints like bloating as well as being a diuretic.
- Black or Green Tea: Encourage your bowels with natural caffeine, similar to coffee.
- Liquorice Root: It's anti-inflammatory and a popular choice for digestion.
- Aloe: Aloe is anti-inflammatory and useful for supporting bowel movements.
- Slippery Elm: Helps flush out the bowels for better digestion.
Hot Tip: Boil the water first, then allow to cool to just above warm before adding the essential oils.
5. Eat More Fibre Rich Foods
Probably the most recognised solution to overcome constipation naturally: eat more fibre.
However, there is more to the story than just 'eat more fibre.' There are actually two types of fibre soluble and insoluble, and if you're out to conquer constipation, you'll need to increase your fibre intake of both.
- Soluble Fibre: Dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance that improves consistency for more relaxed bowel movements. This type of fibre is found in foods such as: psyllium, oats, beans, citrus, apples, carrots, barley and rice bran.
- Insoluble Fibre: Draws in water to help soften stools for better regularity and smoother bowel movements. Insoluble fibre rich foods are foods such as: whole wheat, nuts, beans, potatoes, cauliflower and green beans.
On days when you're constipated and need extra support, try our fibre booster blend, Get Things Moving, which contains a mix of psyllium husk, ground flax and chia, to help to mop up and push waste out of the gut.
Good gut health is dependent on the regular production of large and soft bowel movements (they require less energy to pass) for less strain on your body.
The odd thing about fibre is you don't actually digest it, but your body needs fibre to help form stools. Remember also, some types of fibre contain the PREbiotics, which feed the beneficial gut bacteria.
Periodically, as an insurance policy for your digestive system, you should also consider doing a natural colon cleanse such as our Cleanse Me protocol.
This will help to completely clear out and reset your digestive system, paving the way for your body to better absorb nutrients, whilst supporting your immune system and keeping you healthier.
6. Foods For Constipation
You are what you eat.
If you want to support healthy digestion and stay regular without the discomfort of constipation, there are a variety of different foods you can incorporate into your diet to help prevent and/or manage problem.
- Fruits: Fruits are packed with dietary fibre and immunity boosting vitamins and minerals. Fruit can be consumed fresh raw, dried or even cold pressed into freshly squeezed juices. Some of the most helpful fruits for preventing constipation include; grapes, prunes, apples, pears, berries, kiwis, figs, citrus and rhubarb.
- Vegetables: If you don't already know, vegetables are very beneficial to your health and the natural fibres in vegetables are among the most powerful for helping you to stay regular. Try to source your vegetables locally and seasonally whenever you can. Some of the best vegetables to include in your diet to help avoid constipation include: dark leafy greens, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cucumbers, celery, artichokes and sweet potatoes.
- Other Foods: Additional healthy foods that will help to alleviate and avoid constipation include, beans, lentils, peas, chia seeds, rye bread, oat bran, kefir, walnuts and almonds.
Learn more in Foods That Support Healthy Digestive Function.
High fibre foods are vital for a healthy functioning digestive system, so be sure to include a wide variety of whole plant foods in your diet.
A footnote to consider, dairy intolerances have been known to cause constipation so if you are or suspect you may be sensitive to dairy, try to limit your intake, particularly of factory-farmed and heavily processed milk products.
7. Move Your Body Daily
Inactivity is one of the biggest culprits of health problems, including constipation.
Regular exercise can help boost transit time by boosting your metabolism and speeding up digestion.
Brisk walking for at least 45 minutes per day will help support a healthy digestive system.
Additionally, light cardio workouts such as jogging, cycling and swimming, get your heart rate up, which urges intestinal muscles to contract, thus stimulating regular bowel movements.
Light activities such as yoga and stretching can also be very effective for avoiding constipation, because it helps to stretch the intestinal muscles out. Breathing deeply as you stretch will also help to calm and oxygenate your body, which is very important for helping you to relax and supporting healthy digestion.
Learn more in our blog Top Low-Impact Exercises For Health & Wellness.
The Main Take Away
If you find yourself frequently constipated, there's a good chance it's effecting you both physically and emotionally, maybe without you even realising it.
Your digestive system is meant to work efficiently and it is one of the most vital system in your body for keeping you healthy and happy.
For this reason, it is important to not ignore the signs, if constipation is an ongoing problem, and to begin getting to the cause of it by embracing some of the tips and suggestions offered to you here.
Tolman Self Care.