No-one is in a hurry to talk about constipation – except us if this blog is anything to go by. Nonetheless, it’s a much more common problem than many assume.
A condition which affects people of all ages, constipation is sometimes linked with stomach ache and bloating, making it one of many gastrointestinal symptoms typically associated with dysbiosis or a lack of dietary fibre.
Unlike some illnesses, it is generally accepted that constipation can be treated by making simple changes to your lifestyle and diet.
In this article, we’re going to detail what causes constipation and how to get rid of constipation naturally via diet and supplementation.
Causes of Constipation
Those who live a hectic lifestyle can sometimes fail to recognise signs of constipation.
But if you do not consistently empty your bowels at least three times a week, you’re likely suffering from constipation. If you feel bloated often, you are probably constipated.
Because there are many possible underlying causes (irritable bowel syndrome, dietary deficiencies, etc) it can be difficult to say with certainty how constipation comes about.
Common causes, however, include not eating enough fibre, dehydration, a lack of exercise, medication, hormonal imbalances and disease.
High levels of stress and depression can also contribute.
Sometimes, though, it’s a question of routine or a lack thereof – making an effort to schedule regular bathroom breaks can often solve a bout of constipation.
Thankfully, there are many things you can do to treat constipation and promote healthier bowel movements.
How to Relieve Constipation with Natural Remedies
So, to the $6 million question: how do you get rid of constipation?
Is polyethylene glycol (osmotic laxatives) the answer, since it helps make stools softer and easier to pass? Or is preventing constipation happening in the first place the best option?
We’re assuming if you’ve landed on this blog, that ship has sailed.
Whether you’ve already tried fibre supplements, correctol dulcolax or some other remedy, or are experiencing constipation for the first time, we’ve got you covered.
Probiotics for Constipation
As mentioned, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut is a frequently cited cause of constipation.
As such, the best thing for constipation is to top up the beneficial bugs in your gastrointestinal tract to keep things in good working order.
There are many studies illustrating the positive effects of probiotics on constipation symptoms, and in 2017 a meta analysis of the available data was published in the journal Annals of Gastroenterology.
Looking at stool frequency and intestinal transit time, the researchers pooled data from 21 studies comprising 2,656 test subjects.
The most commonly used probiotics in the study were Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species, which makes sense since they are natively present in large numbers within the human gut.
The meta-analysis showed that probiotic consumption resulted in a mean increase in weekly stool frequency of 0.83. What’s more, probiotics improved intestinal transit time (SMD=0.65, 95%CI 0.33-0.97, P<0.001).
No wonder many a doctor recommends probiotics for better bowel movements!
Make sure to eat plenty of probiotic foods (sauerkraut, Greek yogurt, kombucha, kefir et al) and consider using a high-strength probiotic now and then.
Progurt is the world’s strongest, boasting 1 trillion Colony-Forming Units from human-derived bacterial strains. Most supplements contain 5-10% as much friendly bacteria.
What’s more, the strains include Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Lactobacillus Bifidus – both of which were extensively used in the aforementioned trials.
Fibre for Constipation
Eating fibre-rich foods, including fibre-rich vegetables, is a great way of addressing chronic constipation.
In fact, it’s possibly the first thing you should look to do, before resorting to supplementation.
Dietary fibre is the name for the edible parts of plant foods, the likes of vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes.
While insoluble fibre adds bulk to your stool and helps it transit more swiftly through the intestines, soluble fibre helps the body absorb nutrients.
Both, therefore, perform vital roles as far as constipation is concerned.
Foods you should prioritise for constipation include wheat bran, prunes, kiwi fruit, broccoli, sweet potato, kefir and flaxseeds.
Aiming for 10 portions of fruit and veg per day is a good way of getting all the dietary fibre you need.
When eating a higher fibre diet, it’s vital to maintain your hydration to ensure proper elimination: fibre needs water to carry waste out of your body!
As such, it might be a good idea to combine water and vegetables in a green smoothie.
Too much hassle? Then try Green Vibrance Powder, which has the benefit of added probiotics! Each serving is nutritionally equivalent to 4.5 servings of fruit and vegetables.
Liquid Chlorophyll for Constipation
Chlorophyll – so-called ‘plant blood’ – is typically associated with detox protocols in the form of liquid chlorophyll.
If you’re unfamiliar with the supplement, it’s essentially plant-derived chlorophyll formulated with pure water.
And how does it help with constipation, you might wonder. Well, because chlorophyll is a potent detoxifier, it gets to work on the toxic food products which are backed up in the intestines and likely causing a blockage.
Taking a half teaspoon of liquid chlorophyll every couple of hours is a good idea. Repeat for 3-4 days and monitor the results. We recommend the Juara brand.
Fish Oil for Constipation
Fish oil is a surprisingly effective tool for relieving constipation.
The benefits probably stem from the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3, which serves to reduce inflammation in the intestines and colon: noted causes of constipation.
Fish oil, like most dietary oil, is also an excellent lubricant which has been known to assure smooth elimination.
In a 2012 study, the use of suppositories containing 30% free fatty acid extract from omega-3 fish oil proved to be a powerful laxative.
Thirty volunteers were divided into two groups, one of which was given a fatty acid extract while the other was given a placebo.
Among the former, 93% reported the urge to defecate after administration while only 37% reported the same from the placebo group.
Thereafter, 90% of the study group had a bowel movement compared to just 33% of the control group.
If you want to give fish oil a shot, try UnoCardio 1000. Not only does it provide a therapeutic dose of EPA and DHA, the most well-studied marine omega-3s, but it also contains 1,000 IU of vitamin D.
This is relevant, since 82% of IBS sufferers are said to be vitamin D deficient.
Supplements for Digestion and Constipation
If simply eating more fibre doesn’t do the trick – and normally it does – you may find yourself reaching for a supplement.
One such digestive supplement we recommend is Rhalax Grani.
Combining a number of fibre-rich vegetable-derived ingredients pressed into tablets, it has been created specifically to encourage intestinal transit while reducing bloating.
A primary ingredient in Rhalax Grani is senna leave powder; senna works by stimulating the muscles that line your gut and has been used as a natural constipation remedy for centuries.
The same is true for aloe ferox, a medicinal plant closely associated with colon cleansing.
Hopefully this article demonstrates that constipation need not be suffered in the long-term.
Natural remedies for constipation are plentiful: it’s just a case of eating the right foods and cutting down on those that can cause constipation in the first place – processed grains, fried or fast food, gluten-containing foods to name a few.
Hopefully we’ve demonstrated that a laxative isn’t the only solution when you’re suffering from bloating and constipation; high-fibre foods, probiotics, prune juice, fish oil and chlorophyll can work just as well.
If chronic constipation persists despite your best efforts, it is of course wise to consult your medical practitioner to get to the bottom of the issue.
Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.
Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.
When eating a higher fibre diet, it’s vital to maintain your hydration to ensure proper elimination.