Do you sometimes feel like you’re carrying around a load of bricks in your belly? When I get backed up, everything suffers—my overall energy, mental clarity, and attitude… So although I covered the basics of healthy poop in an earlier blog, today I want to tackle constipation head-on and talk about how we can all be more regular.
Constipation is obviously uncomfortable, but did you know that it could lead to health issues like fecal impaction, colon cancer, and other digestive problems? That’s why digestive health and avoiding chronic constipation are high on my prevention checklist.
So let’s get proactive about poopin’. You’ll be amazed by how much better you feel when your bowel habits are back on track. Without further a doo-doo, let’s dive into some home remedies for constipation.
13 Tips to Relieve Constipation
Even if constipation runs in your family or you have a highly sensitive or stubborn system, you don’t have to give in to feeling backed up and bummed out all the time. Use my home remedies for constipation below to help loosen things up.
#1: DRINK MORE WATER
Drinking water is the best way to hydrate your bowel movements. Without enough H2O, your stool becomes dehydrated and hard, making it difficult to pass. Your daily fluid intake should aim for half your body weight (lbs) in ounces daily.
#2: GET ENOUGH DIETARY FIBER IN YOUR DIET
You need to include fiber-rich foods in almost every meal, which include a mix of both insoluble fiber (ex. whole grains, non-GMO corn and foods containing non-GMO corn bran, nuts, seeds and fruit and vegetable skins), and soluble fiber (ex. chia seeds, flax seeds, oats, beans, lentils and strawberries).
Women need to aim for at least 25 grams of total fiber daily. Rye bread, beans, lentils, flax seeds, chia seeds and celery are real constipation-busting superstars. Adding fiber by eating some of these nutritious foods every day will help relieve constipation and stimulate a bowel movement.
If absolutely necessary—and you can’t get enough fiber in your diet—you can consider using a fiber supplement. Aside from fiber supplements, consider taking digestive enzyme supplements (like this one from Pure Encapsulations).
#3: ADD IN DAILY MODERATE EXERCISE
At least 20 minutes a day of low-impact aerobic activity like walking, jogging, dancing or jumping jacks will encourage motion through your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Try a walking or standing workstation to help you incorporate more activity into your work day, or go for a daily morning, lunchtime or evening walk for regular bowel movements.
#4: BALANCE YOUR SUPPLEMENTS
An excess of calcium and iron—both of which are essential minerals—may actually be causing some of your constipation symptoms. If you think these supplements could be your constipation culprit, check out my guides to getting calcium and iron through your meals.
Food sources of these minerals are more gentle on your system because they aren’t as concentrated. Plus, plant sources of calcium and iron also contain fiber and other nutrients that support a healthy digestive system and prevent constipation.
On the other hand, a magnesium citrate supplement can be an easy way to find constipation relief. Magnesium acts as an osmotic laxative. Osmotic laxatives work by pulling water into your digestive tract, which can soften stool, making it easier to pass. Start with 300 mg once a day (you can take up to 300 mg three times a day if needed) until you’re able to have a normal bowel movement.
#5: LIMIT YOUR CONSUMPTION OF MEAT AND DAIRY
One of the many reasons I adhere to a vegan diet is because meat and dairy mess with digestion. These low-fiber foods contain a lot of constipating calcium and iron. If meat and dairy are part of your daily diet and you’re not having a regular bowel movement, limit them or eat them in a small serving along with lots of high-fiber foods.
#6: TAKE PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTS TO AID YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Your digestive system contains beneficial bacteria. When the ratio of good-to-bad bacteria is out of whack, it can mess with the healthy gastrointestinal system necessary for fermentation and healthy poop formation. Taking a daily probiotic supplement will not only ease constipation, but also reduce bloating, gas, and even help reduce anxiety and depression.
You can also find constipation relief by eating more fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and tempeh in your weekly meal lineup. They contain natural probiotics to keep your gut bacteria in a healthy balance for regular, easy stools. Adding in healthy food to your diet is one of the best natural remedies.
#7: BE MINDFUL OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS AND ANTACIDS
Certain medications (prescription and over-the-counter) can be dehydrating and slow down your digestion in a way that increases constipation effects. To help address this pesky side effect, check with your doctor about switching to a medication that isn’t constipating and always make sure to stay hydrated. When it comes to antacids, limit fatty foods to help promote better digestion overall and reduce your need to pop these babies on a regular basis.