Constipation is one of the most common health complaints nutritionists hear when speaking with their clients.
So, if you’re backed up more often than you’d like to admit, don’t worry – you’re not alone!
Constipation is a digestive symptom that prevents you from daily bowel movements (BMs), and may be accompanied with abdominal pain and discomfort.
Constipation is typically linked to dietary factors, such as eating too many processed foods and sugar or not drinking enough water.
But constipation can also be caused by emotional distress.
From a natural health perspective, you’re considered constipated if you’re not having two to three quality bowel movements per day. Yes, that’s per day – not per week!
Unfortunately, rather than first looking to natural remedies, constipation is commonly treated with over-the-counter laxatives to help increase the frequency of BMs.
But using laxatives to promote BMs can actually worsen constipation – and do your colon more harm than good.
Even though laxatives can trigger a series of spasms in the colon to eject the stool, they don’t actually address why constipation is occurring in the first place.
I’m not saying there isn’t a time and place for laxatives, but whenever possible, I recommend avoiding them and trying natural cures for constipation instead.
Using laxatives on a regular basis can create a dependency on them, which only makes pooping naturally more difficult.
Cures for Constipation
First of all, you can be constipated and not even know it.
We’re often told that one bowel movement per day is the goal for being regular – and in some cases, that once every few days is okay as long as there’s no pain.
But from a holistic perspective, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A healthy digestive system should eliminate more than once per day, ideally after every meal. Anything less than that is a sign of sluggish digestion.
Under normal circumstances, the body keeps itself healthy by taking the nutrients from the food you eat and eliminating what it cannot use, in the form of poop.
Your body also rids itself of excess cholesterol, metabolic waste, and hormones through your poop.
Pooping is your body’s primary way of removing the toxic waste from your digestive system that may otherwise contribute to illness and disease. If your body holds on to this waste, you can only imagine what it can do to your health.
What Is Healthy Poop?
When you think of what healthy poop looks like, think of big brown bananas.
Poop that takes form in an “S” shape is also considered healthy, and is a sign that you’re getting enough fiber and water in your diet.
Your stool should also sink, not float. If your stool floats, it’s a sign that your body isn’t absorbing fats properly, or that you may have too much fat in your diet.
The texture of your poop should be smooth, medium-brown color in color and effortless to pass, without any pain.
If your poop is difficult to pass, resembles rabbit pellets, or has a “cracked” texture – and is only making an appearance once every few days – you have signs of constipation that can be fixed with natural remedies.
Besides, how good does it feel to have a glorious poop first thing in the morning? Talk about starting your day off right!
Here are my top three cures for constipation while improving your overall health.
3 Top Tips for Curing Constipation
1. Increase Your Fiber Intake Through Fruits and Vegetables
Fiber is found in all plant foods. It’s the nutrient that “sweeps” your intestinal tract clean and forms the stool in your digestive tract to be eliminated.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
If soluble fiber were placed in a mug of boiling hot water, it would dissolve, but insoluble fiber wouldn’t.
In your digestive system, this translates to insoluble fiber moving right through you (which has a “clean sweep” effect).
Meanwhile, soluble fiber dissolves but binds to toxins and other metabolic waste materials that need to be eliminated in the process.
You can get both types of fiber in fruits and vegetables. Sometimes, an apple on an empty stomach is all it takes to get things moving.
I recommend eating fruits and vegetables over taking fiber supplements because they also contain water, which helps hydrate the colon.
Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
A few other great sources of fiber include ground flaxseed, chia seeds and green smoothies.
Try these recipes:
- Easy Green Smoothie Recipes: 8 Flavors with Only 3 Ingredients Each
- The Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding Recipe That Will Make You Drool
2. Increase Your Water Consumption
The other main cause of constipation is dehydration.
In order for waste to move through your gastrointestinal tract and be eliminated, it needs water – otherwise it gets stuck.
This is why you may still experience constipation even if you have enough fiber in your diet. When you increase the fiber in your diet, be sure to increase your water at the same time. Both nutrients work together to promote healthy and regular bowel movements.
Citrus Cucumber Detox Water
How much water should you be drinking?
On average, you should be drinking half of your body weight of water in pounds, in ounces.
For example, if you’re 130 pounds, you should be drinking 65 ounces of water each day.
How much water you need for healthy digestion will depend on how active you are, and if you’re consuming foods that have dehydrating effects such as caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol, or artificial sweeteners.
Try these recipes:
3. Increase Your Essential Fatty Acids
Healthy fats have the ability to relieve constipation because their natural oils provide lubrication to your digestive tract. This helps the stool pass through your colon much easier.
Essential fatty acids, especially omega 3s, must be regularly added to your diet because the body can’t produce them on its own.
Homemade Granola Cereal
One of the highest food sources of omega 3 essential fatty acids is fish oil, which you can take as a nutritional supplement or eat at meals. If you’re vegan, you can get essential fatty acids from flaxseed, coconut oil and hemp hearts.
Try these recipes:
- This Is the Homemade Granola Cereal You Should Be Eating
- The Best Peanut Butter Protein Shake of All Time
More Natural Ways to Cure Constipation
As you can see, fiber, water and healthy fats are the first places to look to when relieving constipation naturally. But there are a few other ways to help promote regular bowel movements such as:
Sometimes, all it takes is a little movement to get things moving. If you’re in a sedentary position for most of the day, this is especially important.
It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do, although aerobic exercise is the most effective way to shake things up. Even a brisk walk or taking the stairs instead of the elevator counts.
Chew Your Food
It almost sounds too simple, but a contributing factor to constipation is not chewing your food properly! After all, what good is fiber to your body if it hasn’t been chewed?
When you don’t chew your food properly, it makes its way through your digestive tract in large chunks, which creates extra work for your body to break down and eliminate.
Poorly chewed food may prevent you from having healthy bowel movements.
It’s easy to forget to chew your food properly when you’re on the go, and rushing just to get some food into your mouth.
But spending a few extra seconds with each bite goes a long way when it comes to efficient digestion. And yes, even liquids (such as smoothies) need to be chewed.
Drink Lemon Water
Not only does having a glass of lemon water on an empty stomach increase your daily water intake, but it also helps increase the release of hydrochloric acid in your stomach.
Hydrochloric acid (or HCl) is the digestive juice that your body secretes to break down food and prepare it for digestion.
For this reason, adding lemon juice to your water can be helpful for promoting intestinal peristalsis, improving digestion and encouraging regular bowel movements.
Let Go of Emotional Baggage
From a holistic standpoint, each health symptom has an underlying emotional, or psycho-spiritual, component.
It’s suggested that constipation may be a sign of holding on to old resentment, experiences, or negative emotions.
The process of finding out whether emotional pain is a contributing factor to constipation will be different for each person.
It can be helpful to begin by writing in a journal without editing or censoring your thoughts to see what comes up.
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Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.