Constipation is defined as having less than 3 bowel movements a week. Constipation is also characterized by other unpleasant symptoms such as difficulty in going to the bathroom, abdominal bloating and pain from hard, dry stools that are usually difficult to pass. However, if you are not having at least 2 soft, easy to pass bowel movements daily then you are constipated.
Constipation is an incredibly common yet serious problem and is estimated to affect around 20% of Americans, leading to 8 million doctor visits per year. It can be caused by foods you eat and/or avoid, lifestyle choices, medication or disease.
Reasons for constipation include:
- A sedentary job and lifestyle with no exercise.
- Chronic stress.
- Short-term high amounts of emotional or physical stress.
- Unknown food sensitivities and allergies.
- Eating a bad diet that increases inflammation.
- Certain medications that interfere with digestive health.
- Other sources of stress like traveling, illness, and lack of sleep.
- Changes in a sleep routine.
- Hormonal imbalances.
Unfortunately, constipation can have a serious adverse effect on your quality of life, as well as your physical and mental health. Effects of constipation can include symptoms of bad breath all the way to skin issues.
There are many natural ways to help relieve constipation. Often preventable by including many natural remedies that can help improve bowel function. Natural remedies such as drinking warm liquids, taking probiotics, drinking aloe vera and so much more. Here are a few beneficial constipation remedies to lessen the symptoms and get back to a regular stool schedule.
1. Try Magnesium Citrate
Taking moderate amounts of one form called mag citrate, can help relieve two different symptoms. It helps to prevent muscle spasms by calming smooth muscle tissue as well as lubricates stools so they are easier to eliminate. Taking mag citrate is an easy home remedy against constipation available both over-the-counter or online.
2. Eat prebiotic foods to improve the balance of your gut bacteria
We all know that dietary fiber increases stool consistency and bulk, both of which can improve bowel movement frequency. However, prebiotic fibers improve digestive health by feeding the friendly bacteria in your gut improving your digestive health. Often relieving constipation.
Prebiotics like galacto-oligosaccharides, or foods that are high in prebiotic fiber like garlic, onions, and bananas have been shown to help increase the frequency of bowel movements, as well as make stools softer.
3. Eat probiotic foods or take probiotic supplements
Probiotic foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi that contain live, friendly bacteria may help prevent chronic constipation. People with chronic constipation have been shown to have an imbalance of gut bacteria. Probiotic foods can help improve this balance and prevent constipation. They can also help by generating lactic acid and short-chain fatty acids. These may improve gut movements, making it easier to pass a stool. A recent study found that probiotics seem to treat constipation by increasing the frequency of bowel movements and improving stool consistency.
4. Eliminate dairy short short-term
Gone undetected in some circumstances, a dairy intolerance can cause constipation. Even children can be intolerant to cow’s milk protein along with adults lactose intolerant may experience the same constipation symptoms. If you think that you may be sensitive to dairy, try removing it from your diet for a short term to see if your symptoms improve.
5. Drink caffeinated coffee
Coffee has been a go-to laxative for many people since it can increase the urge to go to the bathroom; especially when drinking caffeinated coffee. Because coffee stimulates the muscles in your digestive system it gets things moving. Caffeinated coffee was found in one study to stimulate your gut equal to that of a meal. Which is 60% stronger than drinking water and 23% stronger than drinking decaffeinated coffee.
As a side note, coffee may also contain small amounts of soluble fibers that assist in alleviating constipation by once again, improving your gut bacteria.
Constipation is a serious and uncomfortable problem for many people that goes untreated. If this is a difficulty for you, then you should definitely speak to a doctor. Many underlying causes can be identified as the potential cause leading you and your doctor to find an effective treatment protocol.