When things get hard on you, the first thing you might be looking for would be a laxative. But, on most occasions, you do not really need it. Constipation is an indication that your body is running short on either fiber or fluids or both. So you need to make sure you are taking at least 25 to 35 grams of fiber in your diet every day. However, the fibre itself will not solve your problem, you need sufficient amount of fluids to go along with it. Fibre helps to loosen up your stools and make it larger by absorbing more water into it. This will make sure the stools move freely through your large intestines and get easily flushed out of the system. Though fiber and right amount water intake do help a lot to ease the condition, you will also need regular exercise to keep things moving. When all the three factors are perfectly balanced, you will certainly get that feeling of satisfaction back on your face.
Why do you get constipated?
- You have the urge to pass the stools, but your stools don’t just want to come out. This happens because your stools have become hard, dry and too thin to be passed on easily. You can try to put more pressure and succeed to a certain extent but whatever comes out is too painful and too little to feel satisfied. One of the major and biggest reasons for constipation is lack of fibers in your diet. If you take the right amount of fiber every day and still get stuck in your toilet then you could be running short on water in your body.
- But not every instance of constipation can be attributed to fiber and dehydration. You could become constipated due to other reasons as well. This includes lack of regular exercise, over usage of laxatives, getting enemas way too often than needed, diabetes, depression, stress, irritable bowel syndrome, usage of certain drugs, hypothyroidism, cancer in intestines, and depression.
Bring in the Fibre
- Make sure your breakfast is rich in fiber content. Wheat bran cereals is a great option to load up your meals with much-needed fiber content. Wheat bran cereals have insoluble fiber type which is needed to add bulk to the stools so that it can easily make its ways out of the colon. Fibre-rich foods can taste boring so most people opt to stay away from it for the same reason. If you belong to this category then you can start by having small portions and work your way up. Increasing your fiber intake overnight may lead to gastric problems, cramps, and bloating so take it slowly.
- In addition to the insoluble fiber intake, you also need to include soluble fiber in your daily diet. You can include it in your regular meals or snack it up. Soluble fibers react to your body fluids and get converted to a gel that helps to loosen and soften up your stools. Prunes, figs, dried beans, oatmeal, pears, etc… are some common sources of soluble fiber.
- Psyllium is a very vital ingredient in most over the counter laxatives that are used to treat constipation. It is needed to add bulk to the stools. Instead of opting for OTC laxatives you can let one or two teaspoons of psyllium seeds to soak in a cup of hot water for 100 to 120 minutes and drink it. You can add some honey or lemon extract to make it taste better.
- Just like psyllium seeds, flaxseeds are also very rich in fiber content so it helps to ease you up when you feel constipated. Just munch on one or two teaspoons of flaxseeds two to three times a day. Flax seeds taste good by itself, it kind of taste like walnuts. However, if you do not like its taste, then make the dried flaxseeds into a fine powder and add it to your cereals, juices, and salads and hide its taste. Ground flaxseeds are easily available in most health-food stores.
- Increasing your water intake is as vital as increasing your fiber intake to get that much-needed relief. Remember that fibers demand a lot of water and when you do not complement fiber intake with enough water your stools will become hard, thin, and won’t pass down the intestines easily.
Start your Day with a Hot Beverage
- If you love to drink coffee the first thing in the morning on an empty stomach then you are doing pretty good. Caffeine present in most coffees stimulates bowel movements and help to loosen up the stools so that they get easily passed out. It is not a coincidence that many people feel the urge to poop after drinking a cup of coffee in the morning. Though coffee helps with normal bowel movements, too much of it can drain your body of fluids. It is a natural diuretic so drink it with moderation.
- If you do not feel comfortable with drinking coffee on an empty stomach, you can try drinking a cup of herbal tea or decaffeinated tea. You can also drink a glass of hot water mixed with some lemon extract. Lemon juice is a natural laxative so it will help to loosen up the stools.
- Dandelion tea: Many research has revealed that dandelion has a mild to moderate laxative effect. Add 1 teaspoon of dried dandelion roots to a glass of hot boiling water and let it boil for 5 to 7 minutes. Drink a cup of this tea for two to three times a day. You can add some honey to taste or drink it as it is. You can easily find dried dandelion roots in most health food stores or drug stores.
Castor oil for constipation
Castor oil is still used in many of parts of India to clean and detox the colon. It is also one of the oldest and easy home remedies for constipation. Scientifically castor oil has a component that naturally stimulates the large and small intestines and loosen up the stools. Just drink one or two tablespoons of chemical-free castor oil on an empty stomach during one of your holidays. Remember that it takes around 8 hours for the effects of castor oil to kick in so do not expect instant reactions.
Dried fruits are rich in fiber
Prunes are well known for its rich fiber content. It is also traditionally used to treat constipation. A single prune approximately contains around one gram of fiber. Additionally, prunes have a chemical compound called dihydroxphenyl isatin. This compound stimulates intestinal contractions and makes you want to reach the toilet.
Not everyone likes dry prunes. If you are one, then you can take raisins. Raisins are also rich in fiber and it is a natural laxative due to the presence of tartaric acid. Additionally, there are studies that reveal rains increases the speed at which digested foods reach the digestive tract. So it is a great snack for people who feel constipated.
Are you really constipated?
With numerous TV commercials that keep brainwashing us with the idea that you need to pass on the stools every morning, else you should assume yourself to be constipated. But this is a wrong idea. Different people have different body patterns and body rhythm it is quite natural for certain people to pass stools once for every two to three days time like its normal for certain people to pass stools two to three times every single time. You need to be worried only when you have the urge to go but the stools fail to respond. So do not keep taking over the counter laxatives to make yourself pass stools every single morning and get addicted to the drug.
When to seek Doctor’s help?
Constipation by itself is not a serious condition, most constipation should go away within a week’s time after you normalize your fiber and fluid intake. But sometimes it can be a sign of a serious problem such as colorectal cancer or bowel obstruction. If your constipation continues to last for over two weeks time frame then you must bring it to the attention of a Doctor and get it treated professionally. Additionally, you might a Doctor’s attention when your stools have stains of blood, severe abdominal or stomach pain, and fever accompanied by constipation. If you think any of the drugs you started using recently is making you feel constipated then you should discuss it with your Doctor and possibly ask him to provide an alternative drug.
Some common constipation drugs include antihistamines, calcium supplements, drugs used to control blood pressure, sedatives, antidepressants, antacids, diuretics, and drugs that contain calcium and aluminum.
When you exercise every day, it will make the foods to move through your bowels which is speed up the digestion and helps with the normal functioning of the bowels. You need not have to carry out extreme workouts, just 30 minutes of brisk walk every morning should do the trick. Make sure you exercise is a regular routine in your everyday life.
- Cascara Sagrada: This herb is a common ingredient in many over the counter laxatives. It is a very powerful traditional laxative used to cure constipation. It is very effective in stimulating your intestines and make you pass out those hard stools. There are numerous products available in drug stores that use this herb. No matter whatever product you choose to free yourself up, always follow the instructions provided on the label. Do not use it for more than two weeks time period. This herb can use up too much body fluids and salt so it can make you feel tired. Additionally, it can become addictive on regular use. The last thing you want is become dependent on a drug to pass out the stools every single time. So use it with caution.
- Senna: This herb is known as the mother of all natural laxatives. It is a very powerful laxative agent so it should only be used when all other remedies fail to produce any results. Senna takes about 8 hours to work. Take about 20 to 40 drops of the tincture before going to sleep. Do not make it habitual and extend its use for long term. Additionally, senna can lead to cramps and diarrhea on regular use. So only use it as a last resort and also stop its use once your condition is eased.
Do not try to force your stools by putting more pressure on your colon. This can sometimes lead to hemorrhoids or anal fissures. Additionally, excessive pressure on colon will narrow down the passage which can make your constipation worse than before.
Go when your body wants to go. Do not try to control your poop for way too long. When the stools stay in the colon for a long duration it will dry out rapidly. Dry stools will make you feel constipated.