5 natural tips from a doctor to relieve constipation
This is such a common problem and can mean anything from having your bowels opened less than three times a week, producing very hard, small or large stools, or needing to strain excessively. If you are young and don't have any other medical problems, it is unlikely that there is an underlying serious cause, but it can be a real problem to live with. Hopefully some of these tips may help you manage it:
What You'll Need
- foods rich with fibre
What You'll Do
- Get moving: exercise is proven to stimulate the movement of the bowel to help stool pass through your gut more quickly. Any type of exercise will do, it doesn't have to be anything too strenuous. But remember to leave sufficient time between a meal and exercising, as leaving less than an hour can create the opposite effect by diverting blood away from your gut at the critical time when it is trying to digest your food.
- if your constipation is also accompanied by bloating and stomach pains, it may be that you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Often this is associated with diarrhoea but may people will have a constipation as their main symptom, however the two may alternate. If so, it may be worth thinking about a trial of the FODMAP diet. These are foods containing particular sugars which can make the symptoms of IBS worse. It is important to get the advice of a dietician before embarking on this though, as done incorrectly, it can lead to an excessively restricted diet causing additional problems.
- Think about the gut-mind connection: often symptoms of IBS and therefore constipation, are much worse when we are stressed. If this is the case with you, try some yoga. Not only will this help to relax you, but the twisting poses almost act as a massage for the bowel and so are great for stimulating the gut and getting it moving again.
- Drink more water: I could probably write this about any problem as it is so important to our general well being but for constipation sufferers this is even more true. You should be aiming for 2 litres a day.
- Think about your fibre intake: eating more fibre found in fruit and vegetables, increases the bulk of your stool, therefore making it easier to pass. However, be careful with this. Firstly, fibre acts to draw more water into the stool, but this will only work if you are drinking a sufficient amount of water. If you increase your fibre intake without also increasing your water intake, it could actually make your symptoms worse. Secondly, if you do think you have constipation as part of IBS, then certain fruits and vegetables are FODMAP containing foods, and so whilst you may thing that you are doing everything to improve you symptoms by eating more healthily, you may inadvertently be making the symptoms worse. Confusing I know, but if you think you have got IBS, it is best to seek advice from a FODMAP trained dietician.