While we do hear people complaining about having head-ache or sore throat, but seldom we find someone saying that he or she has not pooped in four days. This is something which people feel embarrassed to talk about. However, they don’t need to be. Actually a large number of Americans – about 4 million by some estimates – suffer from constipation on regular basis. Women usually suffer more because of the slower movement of foods through women’s longer intestines and due to the effects of female hormones on the GI tract.
What Is Constipation?
To explain it in simple words it’s like this. If your body is sending you the signals that it’s time to move your bowels, but when you try – OMG! Nothing moves and you feel bloated and uneasy. And luckily, if at all it moves a little bit – it hurts!
Constipation in itself is a problem and not an illness. It’s a condition in which bowel movements are delayed, hardened and difficult to pass. The constipation can be different for different individuals. Some naturally have a bowel movement once a day and some only a few times a week.
Causes Of Constipation
The normal reasons for constipation can be a diet lacking in fiber or fluids, stress, lack of exercise, artificial sweeteners and certain medications. In some cases constipation can happen due to some medical conditions, such as an underactive thyroid, diabetes, cancer or irritable bowel syndrome. Even age is a reason for constipation. Old people tend to suffer more from constipation.
It’s a myth that you must have a certain number of bowel movements per day or per week or else you are constipated. It varies from individual to individual. It can be two bowel movements in a day for one individual to three in a week for another. Some people live under the delusion that one bowel movement a day is required to be regular and this can lead to their dependency on laxatives, which will not do any good at all.
The normal constipation symptoms are that if you are straining a lot in passing the stool, it’s hard – you feel gassy and bloated – it’s more likely a case of constipation.
Natural Constipation Remedies And Treatments
It’s not advisable to use laxatives as an opening attack to relieve constipation. They can become a habit and frequent use of them can damage your colon. There are some types of laxatives that can cause inflammation to the lining of intestine also. And if you must take a laxative then go for any natural fiber-based laxatives, as they are much gentler on the system than the many other types of laxatives available on the market.
Now that you understand basics of constipation, you can try following effective natural remedies for constipation:
1. Constipation Diet – Fiber For Constipation: It’s a natural remedy. Fiber is an ingredient that cannot be digested, and it acts like a sponge. Fiber adds mass to the stool, makes it soft, and stimulates the colon so that the stool passes through easily. Include enough fiber in your diet. To avoid getting gassy, increase the fiber intake gradually until you start getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber in a day. While increasing fiber, make it sure to drink lots of water so the fiber moves smoothly through your digestive system.
Most people eat only 10-15 grams of fiber a day. Although the fiber supplements also work, but it’s wise to get fiber from natural foods, as you can then get various other essential nutrients as well.
Ditch refined foods in favor of less-refined foods wherever possible; switch from highly processed cereal to a whole grain cereal and move from deeply cooked vegetables to less-cooked vegetables.
Include in your diet following foods to help constipation, which are rich source of fiber:
(i) Bran and other whole grains in the form of cereals, breads and brown rice;
(ii) Vegetables such as Carrots, Broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts;
(iii) Beans; and
(iv) Fresh fruits (like Plums, pears and apples), or dried fruits (like raisins, figs, apricots, and prunes).
Till you get constipation relief, restrict foods that are low in fiber and high in fat, such as dairy products, cheese, meat, chicken and processed foods – the processing can significantly reduce their fiber contents. They can aggravate your constipation conditions.
2. Guavas: This fruit contains soluble fiber in its pulp and insoluble fiber ingredient in the seeds. They contribute to the mucus production in the anus and help with peristalsis (a sequence of contractions within intestinal lining that ease the movements of food in the stomach).
3. Figs: They work as natural laxatives because of their fiber contents. You can consume them in either form – ripe or dried. To get constipation relief, soak a few figs in warm glass of milk, let them soften up and drink this warm mixture at night before you sleep. Go for whole fruit instead of the commercially available syrup to take full advantage of its fiber.
4. Raisins: This is a good source of fiber and work as a natural laxative. Soak some raisins in water overnight and consume them in the morning on an empty stomach. They also act as better energy booster than energy bars. So they not only relieve you from constipation, but supply you with healthy nutrients as well.
5. Lemon: Don’t you like the scent of a fresh lemon? Did you ever realize your stomach might also welcome it as much as your nose? Lemon contains citric acid that not only works as a stimulant for your digestive system but can flush out toxins and undigested material as well that might have built up along the lines of colon. Mix one teaspoon of lemon juice (one fresh lemon) with warm water and drink it on an empty stomach in the morning. Mixing water with lemon juice dilutes the intensity of the citric acid and helps get you the much needed fluids to keep check on your nasty constipation.
6. Oranges: They help you in getting relief from constipation as they are good source of fiber. Eat two oranges every day, one in the morning and the second in the evening to ease constipation.
7. Plain Yogurt: Plain yogurt is a rich source of probiotics. Eat a cup of plain yogurt with breakfast and once or twice more during the day. This will provide you with plenty of good and strong bacteria to prevent constipation, and reduce its intensity should it still occur.
8. Exercise: Exercise regularly to keep your bowels moving too. The more sedentary you are, the more slowly your bowels move. That is the probable explanation for why older people, who tend to move less, and those who are bed ridden are more likely to have constipation. So be active to ease your constipation. One does not need to run a marathon, only a simple regular walking can work to cure constipation.
9. Heed the Call: When your body gives you the natural call signal, attend the natural call. Holding the urge can make your constipation worse. The longer you hold it, the more water is soaked up away from the stool, and harder it gets. Moreover your body sends the signal to have bowel movement for a certain amount of time. Delay the duty and you may not get second call!
Whatever remedy for constipation you may be using, allow yourself enough time to sit on the toilet seat when you get a call.
10. Constipation Diet Tips
(i) Try to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. Drink a glass of warm water first thing in the morning. Not only it improves your health, but also helps moisten your intestine to make the bowels move easily.
(ii) Stay away from white flour, white sugar and processed foods.
(iii) Include fresh vegetables and fruits into your daily diet, such as peas, carrots, tomatoes, spinach and cauliflower, sweet potatoes, apples, berries, apricots, peaches, pears, oranges, prunes and corns.
(iv) Opt for a whole produce over juice, as far as possible. For example whereas a glass of orange juice supplies 0.1 grams of fiber, eating an orange provides you 2.9 grams.
(v) Try to eat an apple an hour after a meal to prevent constipation.
(vi) To keep your metabolism on track, eat light regular meals and particularly eat at least two hours before you go to bed.
Conclusion: Avoid taking laxatives on a regular basis to cure constipation. In case of constipation, first add more fiber and water to your diet. In addition try above home remedies to prevent constipation as a long term solution. Laxatives are for a quick short term solution. If you take laxatives on a regular basis, system will start relying on them to relieve you from constipation.
Don’t ignore the problem. Consult your doctor if your constipation still persists, even after applying above natural constipation remedies.
If you know of any constipation remedy or treatment, please share it under comments below for the benefit of other readers.