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Last Updated on May 14, 2021

8 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Constipation

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8 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Constipation

Being constipated is no fun! And yet it’s a surprisingly common affliction. Around one in five people are thought to suffer from it, with up to 8 million people visiting their doctor each year for a constipation cure.

However, medication isn’t necessarily the answer. Treating the cause is the only way to prevent the problem. In most cases, it’s a simple matter of figuring out what foods might be causing your digestion to malfunction, or whether your lifestyle is to blame. Medication or certain medical conditions can also contribute. It’s usually a combination of different things: constipation is rarely caused by a single factor.

Most doctors will define constipation as having fewer than three bowel movements per week. But because everyone’s bowel movements are different, this can vary from person to person. There may be other nasty symptoms, such as pain and straining when going to the bathroom, gas, bloating, and difficulty passing stools. Stools may be dry, hard and dark.

Luckily, there are plenty of natural constipation cures that can be carried out in the comfort of your own home. Most of these ones are even backed by science!

1. Take a Top-Quality Probiotic Supplement

When you have an imbalance of healthy bacteria in your gut, your digestion can become sluggish and inefficient. This is because the overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria or yeast in your gut can trigger a response from the immune system, leading to inflammation of the GI tract and the subsequent inflammation in other parts of the body.

Imbalances in the gut like Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) or Candida overgrowth often lead to not only constipation but also inflammation, intestinal permeability and other symptoms.[1]

High-quality probiotic supplements are effective for both preventing and treating constipation. They deliver a quantity of live bacteria directly to your intestines, which is where your body breaks down food in a special process called fermentation. Here’re some recommendations: 7 Best Probiotic Supplements (Recommendation & Reviews)

Probiotics are ‘friendly’ bacteria which work with your digestive enzymes in your intestines, helping your body to break down the food matter and absorb the nutrients within it. When your body lacks the right type of bacterial strains, your digestion can be slowed or impaired. This can mean the food you eat sits in your intestines for longer, ultimately leading to constipation.[2]

Two of the most effective probiotic strains for relieving constipation are Bifidobacterium infantis[3] and Lactobacillus plantarum.[4] Look for a probiotic that contains these strains, as well as a high CFU count and lots of other probiotic strains.

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Fermented foods can also be an excellent source of probiotics, but keep in mind that they can cause temporary constipation after you start eating them. This should pass fairly quickly.[5]

2. Drink More Water

One of the most obvious causes of constipation is also the last most people think of: hydration!

When you don’t drink enough water, your body quickly becomes dehydrated. This means any waste in your intestines will become hard and sluggish, simply because your body can’t add enough moisture to your stools. If this is the case, your stools will be small, hard, dry and difficult to pass.

Try to drink at least 2 liters of clean, filtered water daily. The easiest way to do this is by carrying a drink bottle with you everywhere, so you can sip it regularly. This will help to move food and waste through your body and keep everything flowing naturally.

Water can increase your metabolism and help you to lose weight too![6]

3. Eat More Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber is the type that can be dissolved (i.e., it is “soluble”) in water. When soluble fiber comes into contact with liquid, it absorbs the liquid and forms a gel-like substance. It acts like a sponge, absorbing fluid and making your stools softer. This allows your body to move them out of your digestive tract more easily.

Good sources of soluble fiber include oats and oatmeal, legumes (peas, beans, lentils), barley, fruits and vegetables (especially oranges, apples and carrots). Psyllium husk is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. It’s a good remedy for constipation due to the way it stimulates bowel movements. Inulin is another good type of soluble fiber that you can buy from your health food store.

A study involving IBS patients found when they were given supplements containing soluble fiber (mainly psyllium husk), their symptoms improved significantly.[7]

Insoluble fiber may also help to ease constipation by increasing bulk in the stool and improving motility, but it can be too taxing on a sensitive gut.

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Non-fermentable soluble fiber is much easier to tolerate because it increases the water-holding capacity of the stool, softening it and making its movement through the intestines easier.

3. Get Active

Studies have shown that being sedentary is a common lifestyle factor in those with sluggish bowels.

An investigation into the link between constipation and sedentary behavior in adolescents found that constipation was often due to low physical activity and long periods of sedentary behavior. In most cases, when the adolescents were made to be more active, their constipation was far less frequent.[8]

Your colon responds to physical activity. The abdominal wall muscles and the diaphragm all play an important role in the process of moving waste out of the body. Good muscle tone helps to keep your bowel movements regular.

Any form of physical activity that moves your lower body can help. This includes running, walking, swimming and even trampolining!

4. Drink Caffeinated Beverages

Many people swear by coffee for making them need to go to the bathroom. As a stimulant, coffee triggers muscles in your digestive system, encouraging peristalsis (the wave-like movements in your intestines that push waste through to your colon).

One study showed that coffee has much the same effect on your gut as a meal and is 60% more effective than just drinking water. It’s also 23% more effective than decaffeinated coffee.[9]

However, because coffee is also a diuretic, it can cause dehydration – which will only make your constipation worse! Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day as well.

Non-caffeinated drinks like these herbal teas can also help to reduce digestive discomfort and alleviate constipation.

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5. Eat More Green Kiwi

Also known as kiwifruit and Chinese gooseberry, the kiwi is a very helpful constipation cure.

One medium-sized kiwi contains around 2.5 grams of fiber, along with a variety of nutrients. But the most important thing about kiwi is that it contains a protease enzyme called actinidine. Actinidine has been found to stimulate motility in the upper gastrointestinal tract, which helps to push waste along the intestines.

Another valuable nutrient in green kiwi is a peptide called kissiper. Kissiper has been found to work with specific ions to aid good digestion and improve peristalsis. One study showed that when adults with constipation ate just two kiwis a day, their bowel movements increased.

Kiwi is also a rich source of natural phytochemicals that can support the health of the gut. Because it’s technically a berry, you can even eat the hairy outer peel for extra roughage!

6. Try Senna

The herbal laxative Senna is commonly used to relieve constipation. It is available over-the-counter or online, and can be taken as pills or capsules, or drunk as a tea.

Senna contains a variety of plant compounds called glycosides, which stimulate the nerves in your gut and encourage faster bowel movements.[10]

It’s important to drink plenty of fluids or electrolyte replacement solutions while taking senna, as it can cause a rapid emptying of the bowels. Extra hydration will help to prevent you from losing too much fluid or electrolytes.

Although safe to use every now and then, prolonged use is not recommended. Talk to your doctor or a natural health practitioner if your constipation continues. Senna is not recommended for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have inflammatory bowel conditions.

7. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are tiny black and white seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

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The great thing about chia seeds is that they’re rich in soluble fiber, so they form a lubricating gel-like consistency when they absorb water. This gel can help to improve the formation of your stools, making them moist and easier to pass. The omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial for their anti-inflammatory properties, which can help an irritated gut.

The soluble fiber in chia seeds is much gentler on the gut and should be a part of your daily diet. It’s easy to add chia seeds to cereals, baked goods, smoothies and yogurt for a fiber-rich snack or meal.

8. Prune Juice

Prunes have long been known for their ability to keep you regular. They’re absolutely packed with fiber and they are extremely effective in moving waste through your gut.

The other great thing about prunes is that they contain a type of sugar called sorbitol. Because sorbitol can’t be broken down by your body, it passes through your colon undigested and draws water into your gut. This helps to bulk up your stool and stimulate a bowel movement.

Studies show that sorbitol is a safe and effective remedy for constipation,[11] and it’s often a favorite with older adults. Prunes can increase the frequency of your bowel movements and improve consistency. If you really have no idea of what to eat when constipated, a handful of prunes could be the easiest remedy in the book.

Take care not to overdo the dried prunes though – they CAN cause some gas and bloating!

The Bottom Line

Chronic constipation can seriously impact your life. It can also take a toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. Feeling uncomfortable is only the part of the problem; your body will also suffer due to poor nutrition and sluggish digestion.

With the above natural constipation cures, you will feel better and can even prevent constipation.

Featured photo credit: Michael Jasmund via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Lisa Richards

Nutritionist, Creator of The Candida Diet, Owner of TheCandidaDiet.com

How to Improve Digestion: 6 Ways For Stressful People 6 Health Benefits of Turmeric (And How to Take It for Good) How to Take Probiotics for the Best Health Benefits 3 Steps to Get Rid of a Candida Overgrowth When to Take Probiotics for the Best Health Benefits?

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Published on September 17, 2021

How to Take Probiotics for the Best Health Benefits

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How to Take Probiotics for the Best Health Benefits

Probiotics are a popular topic among health enthusiasts and medical professionals, alike, and rightfully so! As individuals seek to improve their health by becoming advocates for themselves, probiotics are often a good choice to become part of their new health-focused regimen.

However, there are some ways that will allow you to maximize the health benefits that you can get from probiotics. Read on to learn more about how to take probiotics for the best health benefits.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics

are living bacteria that provide countless health benefits when ingested. These bacteria are naturally occurring in the gut but can—and should—be replenished through external means. The gut contains beneficial bacteria that make up the microbiota and plays a key role in maintaining health in both the body and mind. A healthy gut keeps the digestive process working smoothly, which prevents free radical and toxin build up in the body known to lead to many acute and chronic illnesses[1]

It is also thought that probiotics secrete substances that trigger the immune system to react more strongly, thereby preventing pathogens from being able to take root and cause illness.[2]

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Can You Take Too Many Probiotics?

Taking too many probiotics is not a common issue. For those who have taken too many probiotics (and each person will need to find their own tolerance level), they will likely experience gut disruptions and gastrointestinal side effects.

Probiotics are generally safe regardless of the amount taken, and any side effects are generally mild. It is impossible to take a toxic level of probiotics. The most common side effects of taking more probiotics than you can tolerate are gas, bloating, and diarrhea. These side effects can be treated individually and are generally corrected after 24 to 48 hours and stopping the probiotics until they are resolved.

It can be tempting to discontinue probiotic use altogether after a negative experience out of fear of another bad reaction, but simply reducing your dose and taking your probiotic as directed should prevent further issues. It is important for those with a weakened immune system or serious illness to discuss probiotic use with their healthcare provider before starting a probiotic regimen.

Can You Take Prebiotics and Probiotics Together?

As probiotics grow in use, prebiotics is beginning to get attention as well. Prebiotics come in supplement form but can also be fiber-rich foods that feed good gut bacteria. Probiotics replenish the good bacteria in the gut while prebiotics maintains the gut microbiome by feeding the good bacteria we have in the gut. Because of this relationship between prebiotics and probiotics, it is perfectly acceptable to take them together. However, if your diet already contains healthy, fiber-rich foods then you will likely not require prebiotic supplements.

Prebiotics contain fibers and natural sugars that encourage the growth of essential gut bacteria. They are easy to digest and keep the gut in balance. Prebiotic foods contain fiber and can include bananas, garlic, and dark leafy greens. Probiotic foods contain live cultures and include miso, some yogurts, kimchi, and sauerkraut.[3]

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You can learn more in my other article: Prebiotic vs Probiotic: What’s the Difference and Why Are They Important?

Can You Take Probiotics While Pregnant?

When carrying a child, a mother wants to create the safest environment possible. This is a time where the mother-to-be will begin integrating new and recommended health practices like exercise, supplements, and new diet habits. One question that is asked by pregnant women is whether or not probiotics are safe to take while pregnant. The benefits of probiotics are well documented, and many pregnant women want to know if probiotics will benefit them as well.

Pregnancy may be a good time to integrate a probiotic into your regimen simply due to the increased potential for an imbalance in gut bacteria that pregnancy naturally produces. Stress, medications, diarrhea, and vomiting as well as certain diet choices can cause bad bacteria to overrun the gut and lead to a dampened immune response, inflammation, fatigue, and more.

The simple answer is yes, probiotics are generally safe to take while pregnant. However, it is always recommended to discuss any introduction or discontinuation of supplements with your healthcare provider.

Many studies have shown that not only are probiotics safe to take while pregnant but also that they can add great benefits for mother and baby. A 2019 study by Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology found that the pregnant women’s gut microbiota improved through probiotic supplementation and that her immune system was enhanced.[4]

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During pregnancy, the pregnant mom’s immune system will go into a dampened state as the body works to protect and grow the fetus. This places her at greater risk for common illnesses she may have been able to fight off naturally before. Therefore, integrating a probiotic into her supplement regimen may help keep her and her baby safe from unwanted and avoidable illness.

One important factor to consider when taking a probiotic during pregnancy is the quality of the product you are purchasing. Not all probiotics are created equal. To maximize benefits while also avoiding unnecessary ingredients, it is crucial to choose a high quality and reputable probiotic.

When Is the Best Time to Take Probiotics?

As with many supplements and medications, there are certain times and factors that can change their efficacy, for good or bad. Research shows that the best time to take a probiotic is 30 minutes before a meal.[5] Consistency is key when it comes to taking a probiotic and experiencing as many of the potential health benefits as possible. This means that it is necessary to take it daily to ensure routine and regular replenishment of the gut’s bacteria.

The stomach is a highly acidic environment, which can make it difficult for many supplements to pass through in their most bioavailable form. The same is true for probiotics. Look for a high-quality probiotic that uses time-release tablets to deliver its bacteria safely to the gut.

The composition of your meal can also help or hinder your probiotic’s efficacy. A large meal will move more slowly through the stomach and trigger more stomach acid production. If your probiotic is taken along or prior to this type of meal, the probiotic will move more slowly and be exposed to a hostile environment for longer.

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The Bottom Line

When taking a probiotic, the most important thing to consider is product quality. Carefully read packaging and websites to ensure you are getting a product that is safe, pure, and effective. Look for a probiotic that will release its bacteria slowly and deliver them safely past your stomach acid.

Probiotics have been shown to support the immune system, prevent gastrointestinal issues, combat side effects from chronic conditions, and give extra support during pregnancy. These are just a few from a long list of scientifically backed benefits. Regardless of your motivation, just about every individual can benefit from adding a probiotic to their supplement and health regimen.

Lastly, here’s my recommendations on probiotics: 7 Best Probiotic Supplements (Recommendation and Reviews)

Featured photo credit: Christopher Campbell via unsplash.com

Reference

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