A very common gastrointestinal symptom which affects people in all ages – young and old – is constipation. You may not want to talk about it, but this seems to be a very simple and common symptom of constipation could bring about complications and even inconvenience in our day to day life. Something that is not normal could be due to body’s insufficiency of certain nutrients and minerals. Hence, certain discomforts happen like constipation. Statistics say that people experience constipation at some point in their lives and an estimated of 20% of the U.S. population suffers from chronic constipation, which means that over 63 million people are suffering from constipation on a regular basis (1).

What is constipation?

Normally, the frequency of bowel movement of a person varies greatly ranging from three movements a day to three times a week. Being able to have daily bowel movements with no difficulty or any pain is very important for the health of the colon, getting rid of waste and reducing the risk for certain cancers (2). However, if it is more than three days without bowel movement, something is clinically wrong here. This is so because when there is no bowel movement, the intestinal contents may harden, and a person may experience difficulty or even pain during defecation (3). A condition where you have fewer than three bowel movements a week and bowel movements with stools that are hard, dry, and small, making them painful or difficult to pass is called constipation (4). Some causes of constipation may include not enough fiber or water intake, eating a lot of dairy products, not being active, resisting to poop, stress to name a few (5).

Top 5 effective natural remedies for constipation:

1. Fiber

There are soluble and insoluble fiber that can be used to treat and prevent constipation. They are both essential for keeping your intestinal system running smoothly. Soluble fiber allows more water to remain in your stool, making waste softer, larger, and thus, easier to pass through your intestines or speed up the movement through your bowels (6). Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your fecal material, which hastens its passage through your gut and prevents that constipated feeling (7). According to a study, dietary fiber intake can obviously increase stool frequency in patients with constipation (8). Adding fiber to your diet by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, either cooked or raw, and more whole-grain cereals, breads, dried fruits, such as apricots, prunes, and figs can be very useful (9). Adding fiber in your diet, may cause some bloating and gas in the beginning that is why, you must have diet changes slowly to allow your system to adapt.

2. Water

Water is a big part of constipation. Lack of water intake could lead to dehydration. Dehydration is the most common cause of constipation and can make you feel terrible in many other ways. Since constipation is related to dehydration in the colon, you need to make sure you are drinking lots of water because when your body is properly hydrated, less water will be withdrawn from the colon keeping your stool soft and easy to pass (10). Have plenty of fiber, water, and non-caffeinated fluids in a regular basis is very important. Liquids help to pump out fecal material. However, it is important to restrict the intake of diuretic drinks such as tea, coffee and alcohol (11). Increasing the daily intake of fluids, like fruit juices and water, will add moisture to the colon, subsequently making bowel movements easier to pass again (12). Fluid loss and fluid restriction and thus de-or hypohydration increase constipation, thus, it is important to maintain euhydration or normal state of body water content as a prevention of constipation, according to a study (13).

3. Ginger Tea

Drinking warm liquids like certain teas may help with constipation as it becomes a great way to get more water into the body, and staying hydrated is a powerful natural method for easing constipation (14). When constipation stems from poor digestion, ginger root may help. A simple ginger tea made with fresh ginger root can help relieve constipation and when taken regularly, ginger tea benefits include an overall improvement in digestion and a healthier immune system (15). Ginger tea calms irritation in the digestive system and improve digestion (16). Ginger is a preferred remedy for constipation, according to practitioners of herbal medicine. Known as the ‘warming herb’, ginger increases the heat generation in body that can help speed up sluggish digestion (17). The hot water in tea also stimulates digestion and provides constipation relief (18). A mild laxative effects of ginger tea also promote bowel activity (19). According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, additionally, ginger tea acts as a mild appetite stimulant, strengthens the stomach, and promotes digestion (20).

4. Lemon Water

Lemon juice is an easy home remedy to cure constipation. The citric acid, a natural laxative, present in lemon fights the toxins in your digestive track (21). Lemon juice is a stimulant and flushes out the toxins from the body providing quick relief (22). Lemon is also loaded with Vitamin C that treats indigestion by softening the stool to ensure an easy passage for food (23). Lemon juice stimulates digestive enzymes that assist with elimination, which makes it helpful for constipation relief, according to certified clinical nutritionist and personal trainer Autumn Bates (24). The warm temperature helps extract vitamin C and polyphenols from both the lemon and its peel, which can benefit your body beyond constipation relief (25). Lemons are high in vitamin C, which is an antioxidant compound that pulls water into the gut, and doing so help soften stools and stimulate bowel movements (26). Drinking a mixture of lemon and water may help relieve constipation in some people (27).

5. Exercise

Exercise is said to have been a helpful technique in improving the efficiency of the digestive tract for it decreases the amount of time it takes food to move through the large intestine (28). People who exercise regularly generally don’t develop constipation. This is so because the colon responds to activity and good muscle tone in general, is important for regular bowel movements (29). The abdominal wall muscles and the diaphragm all play a crucial role in the process of defecation and if they are weakened, they fail in doing their job (30). Moderate exercise like walking or swimming, stimulates your bowels, helping your intestines do their job, according to American Pregnancy Association (APA). In addition, exercising regularly helps keep your digestion system, including your intestines, healthy and active, says the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (31).

Final Thoughts

While there are many potential causes of constipation, adopting to a few changes in lifestyle and in your diet could be very effective at alleviating constipation. Simple thing such as not putting off the urge to have bowel is very helpful because if you do, the more water gets absorbed from the stool, the harder it becomes to have a bowel movement. The above mentioned and more are natural remedies to relieve constipation. You can try this at home. You may find these to your liking and effective to help with constipation.