5 Evidence-Based Constipation Home Remedies by a Registered Dietitian
Constipation is a common issue that affects one in five people following a Western diet. If you have ever suffered with this you will know how unpleasant the feeling is. Maybe you are currently suffering with ongoing constipation and are in need of some guidance, so please read on.
I’m Gillian Killiner, a registered dietitian with 26 years of experience in helping thousands of individuals with their dietary and health needs. In this blog post, I share five evidence-based tips to assist with constipation. But first, let’s define constipation.
What is Constipation?
Constipation occurs when you haven’t had a bowel movement for more than three times in a week. You can assess your bowel movements by using a stool chart to evaluate consistency and type. Typically, constipated stools are hard, small lumps, or pebble-like Type 1 and 2.
What is a normal bowel movement frequency as defined by the NHS?
“It is normal to pass a stool everyday up to every 3 days; stools should be soft and easy to pass. You should not need to strain to pass a stool. Some people pass a stool once a day and some twice these are both normal.”
So what factors in a Western diet contribute to constipation?
1. Hydration for Constipation is Key
One of the first and most crucial tips for relieving constipation is to stay adequately hydrated. Many people underestimate the importance of drinking enough fluids. It’s easy to forget to drink when we switch off our thirst receptors. To combat this, keep a drink, such as a glass or bottle of water, with you throughout the day. Aim for 1.5 litres minimum. You can also include herbal teas and coffee, but limit them to no more than four cups a day, and avoid making them overly strong. Excessive caffeine can contribute to dehydration, which worsens constipation.
2. Load Up on Fruits and Vegetables
Consuming an ample amount of fruits and vegetables is another essential strategy for relieving constipation. Begin your day with a breakfast rich in vegetables or add fruits to your cereal. Incorporate fruits and vegetables into your meals and snacks as much as possible. Variety and color in your diet are key. These foods provide essential antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fibre, all of which promote healthy bowel movements. Don’t forget to consider the fibre content in your diet, which can come from sources like nuts, seeds, beans, pulses, and high-fiber grains. Aim for an average of 30 grams of fiber daily to keep your bowels moving smoothly.
3. Dried Fruits as a Natural Solution
Dried fruits like prunes, dates, and raisins can also be valuable additions to your diet when dealing with constipation. They are rich in fiber and natural sugars, which can help stimulate bowel movements. Including these dried fruits in your diet can be a tasty and effective way to alleviate constipation, just keep to small portions.
4. Embrace Exercise for Constipation
Exercise plays a vital role in maintaining regular bowel movements. It helps reduce transit time, meaning food moves through your digestive system more quickly. This faster gut transit leads to improved bowel regularity. Additionally, exercise promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, strengthening abdominal muscles, and overall gastrointestinal health. Aim for regular physical activity to reap these benefits.
5. Listen to Your Body
Lastly, don’t ignore your body’s signals when it’s time to go to the toilet. Often, the morning after breakfast is the most opportune time to have a bowel movement. However, due to our busy lives and schedules, we sometimes ignore these cues. It’s essential not to hold onto stool if you feel the urge to go. Ignoring these signals can have negative long-term consequences. If you find yourself straining during bowel movements, consider changing your sitting position on the toilet. Squatting, for example, can create a more natural alignment for easier passage of stool.
Constipation is a common issue, but it can be effectively managed with evidence-based strategies. These five tips, including staying hydrated, consuming ample fruits and vegetables, incorporating dried fruits, embracing exercise, and listening to your body, can make a significant difference in your digestive health.
Remember that there are numerous dietary, lifestyle, and supplement options available to alleviate constipation. The tips mentioned here provide a solid starting point. There are many more additional strategies out there so do get in touch if you are struggling.
Often we see patients with alternating constipation and diarrhoea, which is so hard to live with. Not being able to predict how your day will go and fearful of your bowels not working smoothly can really impact on your quality of life. Our GUT Health programme is the best programme which can fix you in 6 weeks or less.
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