Constipation relief is typically aimed at stimulating bowel movements and helping with the formation of softer stools to allow for easier, more efficient passing of stool.
Some ways to achieve constipation relief and prevent constipation in the future include eating a high-fiber diet, increasing water intake and exercising regularly. All of these can be incorporated into your daily routine and can especially be recommended for those who suffer from chronic constipation (from medication or pregnancy, for example).
If you are unable to have a bowel movement for more than 3 days, or if you notice blood in your stool, very dark or black stools, or if your constipation is accompanied by intense abdominal pain, you should consult your doctor for further assessment.
Ways to relieve constipation naturally include:
1. Drink 2 liters of water a day
Drinking plenty 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 flavoring with lemon juice or other freshly squeezed fruit juices, or you can add fresh herbs, such as mint or thyme. These laxative teas can also help to address constipation while keeping your hydration levels high.
2. Eat high-fiber food
Fiber is commonly found in fresh unpeeled fruits and pulp, in vegetables and in seeds such as chia, flaxseed, sesame, and sunflower. Fibers are very resistant to digestion and, therefore, serve as food for the intestinal flora, making these microorganisms proliferate healthily and contribute to easier bowel movements.
It's important to remember that a fiber-rich diet requires adequate water intake, as excess fiber without proper hydration can worsen constipation.
Learn more about fiber-rich foods that you can incorporate into your diet.
3. Eat healthy fats
Fat functions as a lubricant for the bowels, which eases the passage of stools. You should try to increase your consumption of healthy fats, which can be found in avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, chestnuts, peanuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and sesame seeds.
4. Exercise regularly
Regular physical activity helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles, which puts pressure on the bowels and eases the passage of the stools. In addition, moving 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 when you feel the need to
It's important to poop 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 that are rich in good bacteria for the bowels, such as natural yogurt, kombucha, and kefir. These good bacteria are very important for the breakdown of fibers and for the formation of stools, which prevents constipation.
Ideally, you should consume probiotics at least three times a week. Some people may benefits from supplementing with probiotics as prescribed by a doctor or registered dietitian.
Check out a list of natural probiotic foods that you can incorporate into your daily diet.
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. Instead, opt to for naturally laxative food as a complement to your meals and snacks.