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Constipation is an extremely common problem.
This can be caused by foods you consume or avoid, changes in lifestyle, medicine, or disease.
But the origin of its persistent constipation is still unclear to many people. The term chronic idiopathic constipation is used here.
Constipation is characterized by under three movements of the intestine per week.
It may also include other unpleasant effects, however, such as discomfort when going to the toilet, abdominal bloating and pain due to hard, dry and hard to move stools.
There are also natural methods to help in alleviating constipation. You can do so in the comfort of your own home and science also supports the majority of them.
Here’s 13 natural home remedies for constipation relief.
Drink more water
You might try to find relief when you’re constipated by drinking some carbonated (sparkling) water to help you rehydrate and get things going again.
Some studies have shown that sparkling water is more effective at relieving constipation than tap water. It involves people with chronic idiopathic constipation or bowel irritable syndrome (IBS) (11, 12, 13, 14).
Bottom line: You can get constipated by dehydration so make sure you drink enough water. Perhaps more powerful can be the sparkling water.
Eat more fiber, especially soluble, non-fermentable fiber
It is because it is assumed that the fiber intake would improve the bulk and strength of bowel movements, making them easier to pass through (19)..
Indeed, one recent study found that 77 per cent of people with chronic constipation have benefited from fiber supplementation (20).
However, some studies have found that increased fiber intake could actually worsen the problem (21).
Other studies have found that while dietary fiber can improve bowel movement frequency, other constipation symptoms don’t help. Which include the consistency of the stools, discomfort, bloating and gas (19).
- Insoluble fibers: Found in wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains. They add bulk to your stools and are thought to help them pass more quickly and easily through your digestive system.
- Soluble fibers: Found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and peas, as well as some fruits and vegetables. They absorb water and form a gel-like paste, which softens your stools and improves the consistency.
Studies into the efficacy of insoluble fiber as a constipation remedy is inconclusive (22).
Some fermentable soluble fibers may also be ineffective in the treatment of constipation, because they are fermented by bacteria in the gut and lose their capacity to retain water (25).
Bottom line: Try to eat more food. You may also add a soluble non-fermentable fibre such as psyllium to your diet.
Studies have shown mixed findings on the effect of exercise on constipation.
Indeed, several studies have shown that exercise doesn’t affect bowel movement frequency (32).
Nonetheless, some interesting findings were found in a recent randomized controlled trial on constipated persons with IBS. It found that exercise decreased symptoms dramatically (33).
Other research showed similar results for this group of people as well (34).
While several studies have shown that exercise doesn’t affect the amount of times people go to the toilet, some constipation symptoms tend to be reduced (35).
If you are constipated, then try going for regular walks. It’s definitely worth a try.
Bottom line: Exercise may reduce the symptoms of constipation in some people, although the evidence is mixed.
Drink coffee, especially caffeinated coffee
In fact, one study found caffeinated coffee can stimulate your gut the same way a meal can. This effect is 60% stronger than drinking tea, and 23% stronger than drinking coffee decaffeinated (38).
Bottom line: Coffee can help to relieve constipation by relaxing the intestinal muscles. It may also contain small amounts of soluble fiber.
Take Senna, an herbal laxative
Use Senna for brief periods of time is generally considered safe for adults, but if the symptoms don’t go away after a few days, you should check with your doctor.
Senna is not usually recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or with other conditions of health, such as inflammatory bowel disease.
Bottom line: The herbal laxative Senna is a common remedy for constipation that is available over-the-counter. It can stimulate the nerves in your gut to speed up bowel movements.
Eat probiotic foods or take probiotic supplements
Probiotics can help in preventing chronic constipation.
Individuals with chronic constipation have been found to have a bacterial imbalance in their gut.
By developing lactic acid and short-chain fatty acids, they may also help to relieve constipation. Those can boost the movement of the stomach, facilitating the passage of a stool (47).
A recent analysis found probiotics tend to treat functional constipation by increasing the frequency of bowel movements and enhancing the quality of stools (48).
Bottom line: Probiotics can help relieve constipation in chronic conditions. You can try to eat probiotic foods, or take a supplement. Supplements should be taken at least four weeks a day to see how they function.
Over-the-counter or prescription laxatives
They may recommend one of the following types:
- Bulking agent: These are fiber-based laxatives used to increase the water content of your stool.
- Stool softener: Stool softeners contain oils to soften the stools and ease their passage through the gut.
- Stimulant laxative: These stimulate the nerves in your gut to increase bowel movements.
- Osmotic laxative: Osmotic laxatives soften your stool by pulling water from the surrounding tissues into your digestive system.
Some of these laxatives should not therefore be taken routinely without talking to the doctor first.
Bottom line: Try to think about an appropriate laxative with your doctor or pharmacist. There are several different forms of laxatives which can function.
Try a low-FODMAP diet
Constipation can be a symptom of bowel irritable syndrome (IBS).
FODMAP stands for oligo-saccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols which are fermentable. The diet requires a period of time restricting high-FODMAP foods before re-introducing them to determine the ones you can handle (55).
However, if you have IBS prevailing in constipation, the low-FODMAP diet alone is often not adequate.
Bottom line: If you have IBS, a low-FODMAP diet can help you get constipated. That alone may not be enough to provide relief though.
Eat shirataki noodles or take a glucomannan supplement
One child research showed that 45 percent of those taking glucomannan experienced extreme constipation relief, compared with only 13 percent in the control group (61).
Yet another controlled study did not find any major effects (62).
As well as enhancing bowel movements, it has been shown that glucomannan acts as a prebiotic and increases the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut.
If you are feeling constipated, consider adding more glucomannan to your diet. By taking a glucomannan supplement or consuming shirataki noodles made with glucomannan, you will do this.
Glucomannan supplements differ by brand in their benefits, so before making a purchase, it is necessary to compare these.
Bottom line: In certain people Glucomannan can effectively treat constipation. You will get it by eating glucomannan or shirataki noodles to complement it.
Eat prebiotic foods
Dietary fiber improves the strength of the stool and the bulk which may enhance the frequency of bowel movement.
Another way that such fibers can help relieve chronic constipation is through their effects on your digestive health.
Bottom line: Foods containing prebiotic fibers will enhance your digestive health and balance of healthy bacteria in your intestine. Even this will help in relieving constipation.
Try magnesium citrate
Taking moderate quantities of magnesium supplements can help relieve constipation. Low doses are often used before surgery or other surgical procedures to prepare and cleanse the bowel (70).
Bottom line: Taking a supplement of magnesium citrate will protect against constipation. Over – the-counter is open.
Prunes and prune juice are sometimes believed as a cure for constipation by nature-and with good reason.
However, if you have IBS, you would want to avoid prunes, as sugar alcohols are known as FODMAPs.
Bottom line: Prunes produce the laxative influence of a sugar alcohol sorbitol. The prunes can be a very powerful constipation remedy.
Try avoiding dairy
In certain cases, kids with a cow’s milk protein intolerance and adults with lactose intolerance can experience constipation (79).
If you think you may be intolerant to milk then you may be able to briefly try to remove it from your diet and see whether it will improve your symptoms.
Also make sure that other calcium rich foods replace the dairy in your diet.
Bottom line: Intolerance to milk or lactose can cause constipation in certain individuals. If you think that dairy is a concern, try to avoid it for a short time and see if that would make a difference.
Constipation is an inconvenient problem with multiple underlying causes.
If this is an problem for you, then you can certainly consult with your doctor to determine the possible cause and find an appropriate plan for treatment.
That said, many of the natural home remedies in this article may provide significant relief as well.