Constipation can be an occasional, annoying problem for some people; or, it can be a chronic health concern requiring the advice of a physician. If your type is the former, then your body will likely respond well to a few, simple changes in diet and exercise, to help you become more regular.
It is worth pointing out, though, that constipation is one of those slippery-slope situations. The less regular you become, the worse it gets, and can actually develop into a chronic condition. Thus, being proactive about treating constipation is essential if you wish to, err, put an end to the problem. The goal of this article is to help nature do its job without the use of laxatives, which can be habit-forming.
Some constipation home remedies that actually work:
Drink lots of liquids. Most people who have trouble moving their bowels do not consume enough liquid. An adult should be getting at least 6 to 8 glasses per day. Water, juice, and herbal tea are the best choices. If you have trouble meeting this requirement, then try filling up a water bottle or other container and bringing it along wherever you go. On a day when you find yourself constipated, you can help move things along by chugging lots of water or other, good-for-you drinks, all in one sitting.
Get your full servings of fruits and veggies. The current RDA is 9 servings per day, but a minimum of 6 should help alleviate your problem. While all types of produce are helpful in keeping your bowels in top form, some are especially useful if you’re in stuck mode. Broccoli, corn, spinach, peaches, pears and plums offer plenty of fiber and liquid, making them the top choices for when you’ve reached that “emergency situation.”
Eat yogurt, or take a probiotic, every day. Yogurt contains active cultures which help break down the foods we eat. A probiotic has the same effect, only it’s in pill form which is helpful if you don’t enjoy the taste of yogurt or if you’re getting tired of eating it. The best time to ingest a probiotic is in the morning on an empty stomach – but if that doesn’t work with your schedule, any time you can manage to fortify your gut flora is good enough.
Eat more whole grains. In addition to the most commonly known whole grains such as brown rice, cornmeal, whole wheat and raw oats, there are many other exciting and good-for-you grains to try out. Quinoa, millet, barley, spelt, buckwheat, and bulgar wheat offer some different options. These types of grains can be cooked hot and eaten as a cereal, mixed into muffins, or served as a side dish just as you would rice.
Try prunes. Prunes are not as bad as many people think! For the best results, add four or five prunes to a cup of water and microwave for about 25 seconds. Let the prunes soak until they bloat with the water, and then eat. You can add them to your morning cereal, blend them up into a yogurt smoothie, or just take them straight. Chase your prunes with a big glass of water and something should start happening within the half-hour.
Drink cloudy juices. The “constipation crowd” is always debating about which types of juices are the best for this purpose. The first thing to remember is that ANY liquid will help. However, cloudy juices that contain more of the fruit’s fiber will act as the catalyst. Try prune, pear, or apple cider. You don’t need a lot – a small glass, followed by a big chug of water (or diluted with water), will work wonders. Even better, if you own a home juicer now is a great time to break it out and make some interesting combos of fresh juice and vegetables. Blend up carrot, ginger, cabbage, pear, apple, peach, berries, kale, parsley, etc.
Eat fish twice per week. The best types of fish to keep you regular are salmon and tuna because they are high in healthy fats. When constipation strikes, make salmon, broccoli and sweet potato your go-to dinner selection for the evening.
Cook recipes that contain pumpkin, sweet potato, or orange squash. Pumpkin is an ideal food for keeping the bowel healthy and producing a movement. Sneaking it into baked goods is probably the tastiest way – make sure to use whole grains and nuts in your recipes, too. Butternut squash soup, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, etc… all delicious, and will definitely help you overcome your problem.
Add healthy oils to your recipes. A green salad with olive oil. Broccoli cooked in safflower oil and garlic. A chicken stir fry with a drizzle of sesame oil. These are just some fun and delicious ideas for including more heart-friendly oils that will also get things moving along for you.
Snack on some raw apples and/or carrots. When cooked, neither of these items are especially helpful for relieving constipation, and in fact they may worsen the problem. Raw, however, they are a great and easy way to add fiber and bulk to your diet. Also, kids typically enjoy these foods, so if you’re dealing with a backed-up little one try it out.
Ingest a caffeinated beverage. Many people claim that coffee and tea are diuretics and therefore should not be considered as a constipation remedy. However, many more people swear by their morning cup to bring on the floodgates, so if it works for them, why not?
Add beans to your diet. Beans are a wonderful source of fiber and adding them to soups, stews, dips and salads can be key in de-constipating oneself. Even baked beans are high on the list of foods to help keep you regular. In addition to beans, they contain molasses, which is another helpful cure for what ails ya.
Eat a variety of healthy foods. Eating the same things all the time can result in food sensitivities which hinder the digestive process. Many people are allergic to common foods that are typically consumed every day, such as milk, eggs, wheat. Rotate different types of meats, whole grains and veggies and fruits to keep your body in balance and help digestion along.
Try a spoonful of blackstrap molasses or dark corn syrup. Molasses is high in magnesium which is a common remedy for constipation. Both molasses and Karo syrup contain complex sugar proteins that draw water to the bowel and will loosen things up. Chase your spoonful of syrup with a big drink, preferably something warm like herbal tea.
Enjoy an avocado. Who doesn’t love them some guacamole and chips? Make the chips whole grain and add fresh salsa, and you’ve got a yummy snack that’s also great for moving and shaking things up down below. Avocado contains healthy fats which act as a natural lubricant.
Consume flaxseed. Flaxseed is a known constipation remedy. Blend some into a fruit smoothie or sprinkle over whole grain cereal with fruit. Be sure to grind the flaxseed in a blender, as the whole seeds are not nearly as effective.
Reduce your intake of unealthy fats. Hot dogs, sausage, bacon and other fatty meats that clog arteries also contribute to constipation and should be consumed in limited amounts. Instead, heart-friendly fats found in cold-pressed oils (flaxseed oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, olive oil); salmon, tuna, avocado and some nuts and seeds (also in moderation) are the way to go if you’re hoping to go.
Be active. Any type of exercise counts toward helping to move your bowels. Go for a walk or jog, hula hoop, or hit the gym. Clean the house or dance around with your kids for a while. Typically, upon your return from such activity, you will find things to be flowing in a southbound direction. Additionally: the stronger your core muscles, the easier you will find it is to produce a movement as a daily event. Routine yoga sessions will definitely prove beneficial.
Consume herbs and spices that aid in digestion. Cayenne pepper, ginger root, turmeric, black cardamom and many other Indian spices work particularly effectively when cooked into well-balanced recipes. Senna is an herb that has a laxative effect. Smooth Move Tea contains senna which is counterbalanced by chamomile and other herbs for a gentle, stimulating effect. You can find this tea in the health food section of your grocery store. Take care, though, to read up on senna before using. Some say that it is habit-forming and others say that an overdose of senna can be dangerous. Senna is currently the active ingredient in Ex Lax; however, since this article seeks to avoid the use of OTC laxatives you may wish to overlook this option.
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Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is by no means intended as medical advice. If you are experiencing health problems or physical discomfort of any kind, please consult with your physician.