Most of us will suffer from constipation at some time or another in our lives, and brief or infrequent periods of constipation is usually not something to be concerned about. However, this short-term discomfort can become a chronic, more long-term problem, if left untreated.
Chronic constipation can make you feel sluggish, bloated, and cause great amounts of pain; and it is best to get a handle on the problem before it progresses. So, here is our top five effective remedies for constipation.
For immediate constipation relief, over the counter medications can be a godsend. Working on two fronts to soften stools and stimulate the muscles of the bowel.
- Fibre Supplements: Absorb water to help form bulky stool, which in turn stimulates your bowel.
- Stimulants: These cause your intestines to contract and squeeze and get things moving.
- Stool Softeners: Pull in water from your intestines, to soften the stool and make it easier to pass.
Fibre is food that comes from plants that your body cannot easily digest. It passes through the gastrointestinal tract into the colon and forms the bulk of the stool. The two types of fibre that are vital for the health of the colon are:
Soluble Fibre – Soluble fibre dissolves in water within the bowel to form a soft gel-like substance, making the passage of stools easier.
Insoluble Fibre -Insoluble fibre absorbs water within the bowel, but does not dissolve, adding bulk to the stools.
Foods particularly high in fibre include bran cereals, beans, oatmeal, green leafy vegetables, and fresh and dried fruits.
Upping Your Fluids
When increasing the amount of fibre in your diet it is important to drink enough fluid, as the body needs it to help fibre pass through the bowels.
If you only increase your fibre but not your fluids, then your stools will become overly dry and harder to pass. Sipping water regularly throughout the day can help the body absorb it better.
Some of the best options for fluids include hot drinks like green tea, which help stimulate bowel movements, and lemon juice in water, which can help flush toxins from the body. Beverages with artificial sweeteners however are best avoided.
Ingesting two to three tablespoons of oils per day, such as castor oil, soybean oil or olive oil can help lubricate the intestines and aid in the passing of hard stools, relieving short-term constipation.
Instead of taking it straight, try combing oil with herbs and lemon juice for a delicious salad dressing. On days that you take oil you may want to reduce other intakes of fat such as butter and margarine.
Simple life changes like increasing the amount of exercise you do has been shown to reduce periods of constipation. While a sedentary lifestyle can slow your metabolism and hinder digestion, getting up and moving vigorously for just 30 minutes can quickly get your bowels moving as well.
Even a 15-minute walk can help move food through the bowel more quickly, by increasing muscle activity in the intestines. So, instead of sitting or lying down after a heavy meal, or during periods of bloating or discomfort, try to get up and moving instead.