Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint in the United States, resulting in 2.5 million doctor visits a year. 😯
Chances are, you or someone you know have experienced it at one time or another.
Constipation can be painful, uncomfortable, and downright miserable. The stress and frustration from not being able to go makes the whole thing even worse.
But from now on, you’ll have a few tools to rely on when “the going” gets rough. Here are nine simple solutions you can easily use to relieve occasional bouts of constipation. 🏡
Not only are they easy to do, but they’re also easy to incorporate into your daily wellness routine so everything down there keeps moving and grooving and you can get on with living your best life.
Cuz when your gut is happy, so are you!
What are the common causes of constipation?
When you get out of balance in any area of your life, it affects all the other areas because everything is connected. Stress causes shallow breathing, and shallow breathing reduces oxygen to your brain, and your brain is connected to your gut, and your gut responds to stress, etc. On and on it goes.
But before we dive into the solutions, let’s take a look at the top causes of constipation. Make a note of any of these that sound familiar!
Here are the common causes of constipation:
- Low fiber intake
- Not enough fruits and veggies
- Increased stress
- Ignoring the urge to go
- Lack of exercise
- Dysbiosis or other gastrointestinal issues
- Poor sleep
- Not enough water intake
- Excess dairy products (especially if your body is sensitive to them)
- Prescription medications
Most of these are fairly obvious but sometimes we get too busy to pay attention to the little things that can make a huge difference such as staying hydrated, eating plenty of veggies, and taking a daily walk. Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference.
Now that I’ve shared the causes, let’s talk about the solutions! 🩺
Try These Home Remedies to Relieve Constipation
Constipation doesn’t stand a chance with these home remedies!
Seriously, you have way more power than you think to heal yourself and feel better.
By adding these healthy habits to your daily wellness routine, you’ll be able to not only relieve constipation, but keep every part of your body thriving, happy, and high-functioning.
1. Eat a fiber-rich diet
Okay, this sounds easy enough but what exactly is a fiber-rich diet anyway?
I’m glad you asked. 😁
There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material that can help soften stools. Soluble fiber can be found in foods like beans, Brussels sprouts, avocados, apples, nuts, citrus fruits, berries, and oats which are easy to eat and they taste great! 🫐
Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water but it draws water into your intestines, which keeps the stool soft and increases the bulk which is important for peristalsis, aka keeping things moving down the tube. Insoluble fiber can be found in foods like green beans, cauliflower, beans, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and seeds. 🥒
Moral of the story: eat more real food, especially those high in soluble and insoluble fiber!
2. Drink plenty of fluids — especially water
Did you know your body is made up of 70% water? Yep, that’s A LOT OF WATER! We sweat it out, pee it out, and use it up during digestion and other bodily functions which is why we need to replace some of it every day.
But evidently, many people don’t. It’s estimated that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Are you one of them?
A good rule of thumb for water intake is to drink half your body weight in ounces per day. If you weigh 180 pounds, drinking 90 ounces of water a day will help your body stay nice and hydrated. And even better, add a little Celtic Sea Salt to your water to ensure your cells get hydrated too!
If you’re not replenishing your body’s water supply, every major organ is affected and falls out of balance, including your elimination.
3. Exercise regularly
The modern lifestyle includes waaaaay more sitting than our ancestors ever did. Whether it’s driving in the car, sitting in front of a computer screen, gaming, or watching nighttime TV, we spend more time sitting and less time moving. It’s time to break out of your work cubicle and get your body – and your organs, moving.
When you move, your organs have to move too. Any kind of exercise, whether cardiovascular or just taking a walk, provides a gentle massage for your internal organs including your digestive tract.
Exercise lowers the time it takes for food to move through your large intestine. The longer food stays in your large intestine, the more water it loses as it gets absorbed back into the body. This means your stool dries out and is harder to get out.
Exercise also helps stimulate peristalsis which is the gentle contractions or squeezing in the intestines that keep your food moving along. Regular exercise or movement promotes healthy intestinal contractions and equally healthy bowel movements.
Even gentle stretching before bed can work wonders for a stagnant digestive system.
4. Go when you have the urge
I cannot stress this enough — when you ignore your body’s urge to eliminate, you put stress on the intestines, colon, and rectum.
If you hold it in too often, you could eventually lose the urge to go altogether, leading to a condition called fecal incontinence. That sounds horrible! 😨
Listen, I get it. Sometimes we get the urge at the most inconvenient time or when there’s no bathroom in sight. It happens. But if you’re ignoring the urge regularly when there is a bathroom in sight, it’s time to reverse this habit!
Your body is trying to communicate what it needs and it’s our job to listen.
5. Manage your stress levels with self-care
When you are under stress, everything slows down or stops, including your digestion.
If your body thinks it’s running from a bear (metaphorically speaking), it will stop or slow down any non-essential activities like growing hair, digesting food, or having a healthy libido, in exchange for activities that will help you stay safe.
When you enter a stress cycle, your physiology changes instantly.
Even functions like problem-solving, emotional connection, and logic are stunted so you can focus on the threat in front of you. Your breathing and heart rate increase, sending blood to your arms and legs so you can run away. Your eyes dilate and your ears become highly attuned to sound so you can see and hear potential threats more clearly.
This stress response triggers your ‘fight or flight’ response which is part of the sympathetic nervous system. But your digestion is part of the parasympathetic nervous system which slows waaaaay down so all remaining energy can be used to keep you safe and alive.
My point? If you’re constipated or have other digestive issues, stress is most likely part of the problem. The faster you can reduce your stress, the sooner you can let your body know that all is well and you’re safe again. 🙂
Here are a few easy ways to reduce stress:
- 4-Square breathing – breath in for 4, hold for 4, out for 4, and hold for 4
- Have some good quality kava or holy basil on hand to help you calm down quickly
- Take a walk to collect your thoughts and settle down
- Journal or write to help get it out
- Get active – dance, run, laugh, sing, cry, do jumping jacks – anything that lets your body know you’re gonna be okay
6. Be aware of prescription medicine side effects
Constipation is a common side effect of certain prescription drugs.
Although we would rather you didn’t have to take them at all, sometimes a little medical intervention is needed. So if you do have a few medications on board, check the side effects to see if they may be causing you to be less than regular.
Here’s a quick reference list of medications known to cause constipation (from Sutter Health):
- Narcotic pain meds, like Vicodin
- Iron supplements
- Antacids that contain calcium or aluminum
- Overuse of over-the-counter laxatives, like Metamusil
- Some anti-depressants, like Zoloft
- High blood pressure and heart disease medications
- Certain diuretic medications
- Parkinson’s disease treatment medications
- Some over-the-counter pain meds, like ibuprofen
Note: Do not discontinue any prescribed medication without checking with your doctor or prescribing physician first.
7. Use an herbal supplement to help
There are many over-the-counter products aimed at relieving constipation but sadly, many of them don’t work OR they simply aren’t good for you.
Using an herbal supplement to get things going can provide incredible relief, especially if you haven’t gone for a few days. 😭
One of my favorite herbal supplements is Colax from MediHerb. This supplement can be taken at night before bed – start with 2 tabs – to (fingers crossed) bring about a bowel movement in the morning. If you aren’t feeling the urge, increase the dose by 1 tablet (total of 3) the following night, and by morning you should be feeling much better! 💩
The herbs in this particular product work by drawing water into the bowl and stimulating peristalsis so you have the urge to go! It works like a charm!
Relieving constipation doesn’t have to be difficult
Even if you don’t suffer from constipation regularly, it’s important to build good habits to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future. Having a bottle of Colax on hand when you travel or for an occasional bout of constipation can be a lifesaver!
Nurturing your digestive system and optimizing your bowel health is one of the most important things you can do to improve your overall health. And that’s what we’re here to do – help you be as healthy as you possibly can!
Does Fiber Make You Poop? | K Health | April 27, 2022:
Exercise to Relieve Constipation | WebMD | August 11, 2022:
What Common Medications Cause Constipation? | Sutter Health:
The Placebo Effect by Dr. Joe Dispenza
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza
The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton