Natural Remedies to Ease Constipation
Moving food through your bowels is a natural process, as normal as eating or sleeping. But when this process gets disrupted, constipation can cause all kinds of misery. It can be hard to eat or even sleep. Fortunately, there are natural remedies that can help move the process along more smoothly.
Uncomfortable symptoms of constipation include bloating; hard stools that are difficult to pass; and having fewer than three bowel movements per week. If you’ve been struggling with these symptoms for three months or more, you may have a medical condition and should contact your doctor. Otherwise, you might just be traveling, thrown off your usual routine or eating unfamiliar food.
Fiber and Water for Welcome Relief
Here are three ways to fix the problem through your diet:
- Drink plain water. Many people are dehydrated even though they drink liquids all day. That’s because they’re gulping down sugary or caffeine-laden drinks, which actually cause the body to lose moisture. You need pure water, around 6 to 8 glasses a day, to stay regular. Sparkling water can sometimes do the trick when tap water doesn’t.
- Fiber bulks up stools so they can pass without strain or pain. Legumes and nuts including oat bran, beans and lentils create a gel-like substance in the bowel that is a natural stool softener. Green leafy vegetables and whole grains contain insoluble fibers that move things along nicely in the digestive tract.
- Coffee is a natural stimulant that helps your brain wake up and does the same thing for the bowels. Just as it gets you going in the morning, it stimulates the bowels to get going, too. Coffee sends an activation signal to the bowels similar to that of eating a meal, studies show.
Supplements for Extra Potency
Beyond food and water, there are natural supplements for when your bowels need that extra kick to move into action. Here are some effective supplements that lack the harshness of drugs and laxatives:
- Probiotics are helpful because many people with constipation lack the “good” kind of gut bacteria. Probiotic supplements are teeming with helpful bacteria and can make you regular. Probiotic foods, including yogurt, kefir, pickles, buttermilk, and tempeh keep the intestines healthy by causing good bacteria in your gut to flourish. A bonus: This will also boost your immunity along the way.
- Psyllium, which is made from seed husks, is a nonfermenting fiber that helps you stay regular. It binds with food in your digestive tract to bulk up stools so they can be more easily eliminated.
- Senna is an herbal laxative with plant compounds called glycosides that stimulate the nerves in your gut to speed up bowel movements.
Of course, if all else fails, there are the homey remedies that your grandparents may have used. Mix up dried fruits including prunes, figs, and raisins for a high-fiber snack. Enjoy bran in cereal or muffins for breakfast. Or, have a glass of hot water with lemon first thing in the morning. All three have a strong laxative effect, are time-honored, and pretty tasty, too.