Constipation Relief: 7 Simple Ways to Make Your Bowels Move

Tatiana Zanin
About the author: Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
June 2021

There are a few simple lifestyle changes that can help you relieve constipation, such as: eating a fiber-rich diet, drinking more water, eating healthy fats and doing regular exercise.

Although simple, these lifestyle habits will help increase bowel movements and promote the formation of softer stools, making the bowel movement happen more quickly and efficiently.

Here are 7 simple lifestyle chances you can start right now to relieve constipation fast:

1. Drink 2 liters of water a day

Drinking a lot of water helps to hydrate the stools, especially if there is already an adequate amount of fiber in the diet. Dehydrated feces cannot pass through the intestines as easily and can cause other intestinal problems such as hemorrhoids, polyps, and bleeding.

If you don't like drinking plain water, you can add some lemon juice to the water, other fruits or even some fresh herbs, such as mint or thyme.

2. Eat fiber-rich food

Fibers are specially present in fresh unpeeled fruits and pulp, in vegetables and seeds such as chia, flaxseed, sesame, and sunflower. Fibers are very resistant to digestion and, therefore, serve as food for the intestinal flora, making it grow healthier and helping with bowel movement.

It's important to remember that if you do a fiber-rich diet you should drink water throughout the day, as excess fiber without proper hydration can worsen constipation. 

3. Eat healthy fats

Fat functions as a lubricant for the bowels, easing the passage of stools. Thus you should try to increase your consumption of healthy fats, that can be found in avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, chestnuts, peanuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and sesame seeds. 

4. Exercise regularly

Doing physical activity regularly helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles, which puts pressure on the bowels and eases the passage of the stools. In addition, the movement of the body also stimulates bowel movements, which helps prevent constipation. It's recommended to practice physical activity at least 30 minutes, three to five times a week.

5. Pass stool as soon as you feel the need to

It's important to pass stool as soon as you feel the need to do it, as not doing so can lead to more constipation. This happens because the involuntary sphincter, a muscle that controls the passage of the stools in the intestines, can get 'lazy' and close, preventing you from defecating when you need to. 

6. Eat more natural probiotics

Probiotic foods are those rich in good bacteria for the bowels, such as natural yogurt, kombucha, and kefir. The type of bacteria is very important to help process fibers from food and to form the stools, which prevents constipation.

Ideally, you should consume probiotics at least three times a week, and you may also need to take probiotic pills prescribed by your doctor or nutritionist. 

7. Avoid taking laxatives

Frequent use of laxatives can worsen constipation, as the bowels get irritated, inflamed, which in return can hinder intestinal movements. In addition, laxatives can alter the intestinal flora, which also worsens constipation and digestion. 

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About the author:
Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
Graduated in Clinical Nutrition in 2001 and has a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Licensed to practice under the CRN-3 in Brazil and the ON in Portugal