Constipation is a painful, embarrassing problem for anyone. Luckily, there are ways to circumvent needing to take a trip to the doctor’s office.
First, determine if it’s really constipation. Many people experience three bowel movements a day, but others may only experience two to three bowel movements a week. If you are positive you are constipated, make sure you are drinking enough daily fluids and fiber. Essentially, by consuming lots of fluids and fiber, you ensure your stool remains soft enough for it to pass through the colon. A diet lacking in water and fiber means the stool hardens and cannot clear the colon. That’s when a person becomes constipated.
How much is enough?
You need to consume at least six glasses of liquid a day. The healthiest diets contain eight glasses of water, but the minimum is six. While “fluids” can mean anything from coffee to diet soda, the best fluid for any diet is old, reliable water.
The American Dietetic Association recommends adults consume 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber. If you are suffering from constipation, they recommend you eat at least 30 grams a day.
Where can I get more fiber?
You can boost your fiber intake by eating complex carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. Easily accessible food sources like apples, beans, pears, prunes, raisins, oatmeal, nuts, popcorn, and figs are all jam-packed with fiber. A word of warning: increase your fiber intake slowly or you’ll have wicked bouts of gas.
If you’re eating plenty of fiber and drinking a lot of water, and you’re still constipated, don’t worry! There are still further measures you can take to relieve yourself, and you can still do it in the comfort of your own home.
Regular exercise can ease constipation. There’s no need to run for three hours on a treadmill. Regular walking (for 20 to 30 minutes) is a great way to stay regular.
Cut out the oils
Examine your diet for areas of excess oil usage. Oils such as vegetable, soy, or olive. Oils form a film in the stomach that makes it difficult to digest carbohydrates and proteins in the small intestine. Oils can delay digestion up to twenty minutes and increase gastro indigestion. In short, oils are another way you get backed up.
However, not all oils are bad. Only oils in their “free state,” such as bottled oils are bad for digestion. Oils in their natural state, such as avocados, corn, and whole nuts slowly break down in the small intestine. No oil blocks any passage, and the oils act as fuel for the body rather than slow down its processes.
Beware of milk
Milk causes constipation and diarrhea in many people. Also, foods that cause gas like cabbage and beans should not be eaten by people who suffer from constipation because they can lead to a “spastic colon.” You’ll know if you suffer from spastic colon because you will experience sharp pain on top of your constipation.
Eating smaller portions can help your body digest food more easily.
Examine your toilet habits
Do you go to the bathroom when you need to, or only when it’s convenient? It may be hard to believe, but delaying your toilet breaks can lead to constipation. Always be aware of the signals your body sends you. Wherever you are, when you need to use the bathroom, go use the bathroom. The best time to visit the toilet is after a meal. Even if you don’t feel the need to use the toilet, go to the bathroom after you eat. At first, nothing will happen, but over time, your bowels will learn to release themselves after mealtime.
When you’re stressed and tense, your bowels will not relax enough to allow the release of waste. Listen to soothing music, read a book, or watch your favorite comedy. Laughing massages the intestines, increases digestion, and relieves stress.
When all else fails
When all else fails, consider purchasing laxative tablets. Remember: this should be a last resort because some people develop addictions to laxatives. If you take too many laxatives, your bowels become accustomed to them, so when you stop using them, constipation can actually get worse.
Regular laxatives versus natural laxatives
Laxatives marked “natural” mean their main ingredient is usually psyllium seed, a super form of fiber. Psyllium seed isn’t addictive, but they must be taken with a lot of water or the seeds can block passages in the small intestine.
Make your own Psyllium pills
At any health store, purchase flax, oat bran, and psyllium seeds. At home, grind the ingredients together, mix in water, and eat some of the mash late at night. This concoction is exactly what is sold at pharmacies, but for half the price!
Enemas and Suppositories
Nothing works faster to relieve constipation than an enema or suppository. However, these procedures should be occasional, and not overused. Too many enemas could result in the stretching of the colon, which essentially means you would be left with the opposite problem of constipation.
As always, if your condition worsens, visit your doctor. However, most constipation can be cured in the privacy of your own home. Examine your diet, make measured changes, and witness the amazing results!