Have you ever, at any point, noticed your bowel movements were less than frequent? Have you ever passed stool less than three times or week? Or does your stool come out in hard, dry clumps after long periods of straining and groaning on the toilet seat? If your answer to any of these was yes, then you may be/have been constipated.
Constipation is one of the most common digestive problems plaguing people worldwide. According to research, about 2.5 million Americans suffer from it. Worldwide figures are, however, uncertain. This is partly because most people who suffer from it, especially in the underdeveloped world, fail to recognize its symptoms.
Common causes of constipation are:
- A lack of fibre in your diet,
- Travelling and a sudden change in your routine
- A lack of exercise.
- Delayed impulse to have a bowel movement
- Certain medications, and
Its most common symptoms are:
- Less than three bowel movements in a week
- Difficulty in passing stool
- Straining when passing stool
- Passing less stool (quantity) than usual
- Lumpy, dry, or hard stool
- A feeling that not all stool has been passed
- Constant feeling of heaviness and bloatedness
While constipation may not be deadly outright, it is one hundred percent uncomfortable. In some cases, it could be a sign of a more serious underlying medical condition. This article, therefore, explores some of the best home remedies for constipation.
Drink More Water
This is one of the most effective and common home remedies for constipation. You already understand that dehydration is one of the causes of constipation. When your body lacks water, your stool becomes hard and difficult to pass. This eventually leads to a decrease in the frequency of your bowel movement. Regular intake of water directly counters this as it softens your stool and makes it easier to pass.
However, whatever the case may be, the message is simple. Drinking more water is the easiest and commonest home remedy for constipation. As an adult, you should try to take between 9 – 12 glasses of water daily.
Eat More Fiber
Another effective way to fight constipation at home is by eating more fiber. Why? Fiber increases the bulk and consistency of your stool. This makes bowel movement easier. In 2016, a review found that at least 77% of people suffering from chronic constipation saw improvements after supplementing their diet with fiber.
Foods like oats, wheat, leafy vegetables, fruits, lentils, and peas are rich in fiber. Psyllium is also a great source of fiber that helps fight constipation. You can find a list of fiber-rich foods here.
These are also very effective home remedies for constipation. There are different kinds of laxatives, but they all give the same results. They are:
- Bulk-forming Laxatives
They’re also known as fiber supplements, and they fight constipation just like fiber. As the name implies, they increase the bulk of your stool in your colon by making them retain liquid. As they grow larger, your bowels eventually push them out to create more space. It takes between 12 – 24 hours for the effect of bulk laxatives to kick in.
- Osmotic Laxatives
Osmotic laxatives soften your stool and make them easier for you to pass. They do this by increasing the amount of water secreted into your bowels. Unlike bulk-forming laxatives, they take about 2 – 3 days before they start working.
- Stimulant Laxatives
These stimulate the walls of your digestive tract and speed up bowel movement. They take effect within 6-12 hours.
- Stool Softener Laxatives
These give a similar effect to osmotic laxatives. They decrease the surface tension of stools which makes them absorb more water. The result is that your stool becomes easier to pass out. They work within 12-72 hours.
A Low FODMAP Diet
Sometimes, constipation may be a symptom of another condition like irritable bowel syndrome. In such situations, tackle the root cause itself instead of tackling what may be a mere symptom. “FODMAP” stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, and Polyols. They’re a group of carbohydrates that trigger digestive issues in people susceptible to them.
Examples of high-fodmap foods are beans, garlic, onions, watermelons, and avocados. Gluten-based bread, pasta, and sausages are also high in fodmaps.
For a low-fodmap diet, eat potatoes, brown rice, lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers. Also, eat proteins like chickens and eggs and fruits like pineapples and oranges.
One overlooked remedy for constipation is regular exercise. Countless studies have shown that exercise stimulates your colons which makes you pass stool better. Ab exercises, in particular, strengthen your stomach muscles and help you stool without excessive straining.
The best part of this is that you don’t have to become a pro-bodybuilder before seeing results. Jogging, brisk walks, skipping, swimming, and cycling all help reduce constipation.
This is another effective home remedy for constipation. It’s a type of laxative that works very much like osmotic laxatives that pull water into your colon. In small doses, it helps with constipation. It is so effective that doctors use it as a colon cleanser before major surgeries.
Other home remedies for constipation include but are not limited to:
- Avoiding alcohol as it dehydrates your body over time
- Avoiding dairy if you’re lactose intolerant
- Adding prebiotic foods like bananas to your diet
- Adding probiotic foods like Greek yogurt and kefir to your diet
Constipation is an extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant problem. If you’ve been unlucky to suffer it, we’re one hundred percent sure you don’t want a repeat of the experience. By applying the above remedies, you can fight it effectively if you ever come down with it. And then go ahead to prevent future occurrences.