If you are having trouble passing a stool, you may have constipation. Constipation often signals a reduction in general intestinal movement. This is often linked to dehydration. But it can also be triggered by underlying health conditions, and some medications. There are several remedies for constipation that you can get from your doctor or at your local chemist. However, here we are going to outline some natural remedies that will work in harmony with your body to alleviate constipation fairly quickly using natural methods and products that are available in practically every corner of the world.
Combating constipation naturally
1. Drink water
Drinking fluids is the most important thing that you can do to prevent constipation, but some fluids are better than others. Water is the best fluid of all. Drinking a cup of warm water first thing in the morning is a natural way of triggering a bowel movement. If you find plain water too unpalatable you can add a dash of lemon juice to it.
Then drink more water throughout the day – at least 10 glasses of warm water every day is ideal. If you cannot tolerate warm then room temperature or cold water is the next best alternative. Water will wash residues and toxins from the body and keep your stools loose so that they are easy to pass. If you really are getting too fed up with water try adding a little orange juice to it. Herbal teas are one alternative to warm water as well. However, steer clear of carbonated drinks as they contain so much sugar they do not help with constipation.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables
Fibre is the single constituent of food that helps us avoid constipation. It remains in the gut because it cannot be digestive by our gut enzymes. It absorbs water and allows our stools to remain soft and easy to pass.
Most constipation is caused by a lack of fibre in the diet. The good news is that it is very easy to get more fibre into your diet and high-fibre foods are often delicious and good for you in other ways as well. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains to really increase your daily fibre intake. You need at least 24 to 38 grams of fibre a day. Constipation is the result of consuming too many fats, refined sugars and dairy products, so remove them from your diet and replace with whole grain fibres, bran, fruits and vegetables. Here are some suggestions for foods that are high in fibre:
- Pears and apples
- Whole grain pasta (cooked)
- Barley (cooked) and bran
- Chickpeas (cooked),
- Black beans (cooked)
- Lentils (cooked)
- Artichokes (cooked)
- Peas (cooked) and broccoli.
If you have packed as many fibre-rich foods into your diet as you can, but are still constipated, you could take a fibre supplement. You can get these from health food shops or via the internet.
3. Coffee may be of help
You may have already discovered that a cup of coffee can be a quick solution to constipation. This is because the caffeine in the coffee stimulates the muscles in your digestive tract, causing a bowel movement. However, in the longer term, coffee is also a diuretic, which means it reduces the moistness of your stool and makes them more difficult to pass. Doctors recommend avoiding diuretics such as coffee, alcohol, cola drinks and tea and replacing them with water.
4. Eat plums
Plums are a natural laxative so you can remedy your constipation by eating four plums and/or drinking two glasses of plum juice. Plums are especially rich in fibre but they also contain sorbitol which naturally softens the stool. Sorbitol is also a mild colon stimulant that helps move food through the gut more rapidly and stops water being re-absorbed which makes the stool softer and easier to pass.
If you don’t like the texture of fresh plums try plum juice. It can work powerfully in just a few hours, so it is important to drink just one glass and see if you get any results before drinking two!
Studies show that plums have 14.7g of sorbitol per 100g of plum, while plum juice contains 6.1g per 100g. You therefore need to drink a lot of plum juice to get the same health benefits as eating one plum!
If possible, avoid sitting for more than 10 minutes and keep your body moving. Moderate physical exercise is better, but even a 30 minute walk will help promote healthy intestinal movement.