In the movie ‘Piku’, the main topic of contention between the lead characters was constipation. In case you’re wondering if constipation can provide enough content for a full length feature film, you obviously a) haven’t watched the movie, and b) haven’t had to endure constipation! Anyway, here we are with home remedies for constipation
What is constipation?
For many people, constipation is simply the opposite of diarrhea; i.e. diarrhea refers to frequent loose stools while constipation means hard stools that are difficult to eliminate. However, this is rather subjective since people’s bowel movements are based on various factors and not everyone has the same schedule for elimination. Some go more than once a day, while others go just a few times a week.
Scientifically speaking, constipation is when you have less than three bowel movements a week. This means that fecal matter gets backed up in the intestines and becomes hard and dry, making it even more difficult to move through the intestinal tract. In some people, some stool can pass, but they are left with the feeling that the elimination is not complete.
Constipation can be short term, which is triggered by a certain event, like traveling or a change in diet. In other cases, constipation is a chronic condition, which can cause untold misery to those suffering from it. But hey, there are home remedies for constipation that can get you sorted!
What causes Constipation?
There are many causes for constipation, including the following:
- Irregular meal times
- Insufficient intake of fluids
- Lack of exercise
- Increased age
- Lack of fiber-rich foods in diet
- Psychological stress
- Side effects of medication
- Metabolic disorders
A survey found that 22% Indians are prone to chronic constipation. Women tend to be more prone to constipation than men, possibly due to the effect of female hormones and the slow movement of food through the digestive tract. People over the age of 60 are also more likely to suffer from constipation. In many people, there is no known cause for constipation.
Backed up? 10 Home Remedies for Constipation
Whatever the reason may be, it needs to be treated, since untreated constipation can lead to hemorrhoids, fissures, diverticulitis, fecal impaction or even damage to the pelvic floor muscles. But there’s no need to worry, you can treat constipation easily at home, and you don’t need to get OTC drugs. You can heal it naturally with some home remedies for constipation that are easy on your pocket and have no side effects.
1. Drink Sparkling Water
Water is one of the most important things to consider when you’re suffering from constipation since lack of adequate fluids is a main cause. Women should aim for at least 8-9 glasses of water a day, while men should go for 12-13 glasses. However, studies have found that sparkling water may offer faster relief compared to plain water. However, avoid sugary soft drinks and stay away from all carbonated beverages if you suffer from IBS.
2. Eat Foods rich in Soluble Fiber
Fiber is what attaches to waste and makes the movement of fecal matter smooth. So adding more fiber encourages better bowel movements. However, it’s important to ensure more soluble fiber rather than insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and gives the stools a better consistency. Soluble fiber can be found in oats, nuts, seeds, lentils and beans.
3. Drink Lemon Ginger Tea
People have long recommended drinking hot lemon water first thing in the morning, and one reason is to ensure regular bowel movements. A lemon ginger tea with honey is a great cure for constipation. Lemon juice stimulates the digestive system and also flushes toxins out of the body. Ginger produces heat which also acts as a stimulant. Along with this, honey in hot water provides laxative action.
4. Eat more Dried Fruits
Dried fruits like prunes are one of the best foods to eat while suffering from constipation. Prunes contain sorbitol, a compound that has a laxative effect. Similarly, dried figs soaked in hot water also have a laxative action, and since they’re high in fiber, they help move things along. Raisins are also rich in fiber and contain tartaric acid which helps cure constipation. You can either have the dried fruits as is or juice them. You can also make your own healthy trail mix!
5. Drink Coffee
Coffee is considered a great mood stimulant but it also has a similar effect on the muscles of the digestive system. Caffeinated coffee has been proven to stimulate the gut by causing the muscles to contract and move hard fecal matter along the intestinal tract. However, coffee is not recommended for people with IBS as it may worsen the condition.
6. Include Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut, and eating foods containing probiotics can improve gut health and heal constipation. Regular consumption of probiotics can regularize bowel movements and improve the texture of the stool Probiotics can be found in fermented foods like yogurt.
Prebiotics are indigestible fiber that add bulk to stool, helping it move along the digestive tract. They also help the gut-friendly bacteria and improves overall digestive health. Prebiotics are found in bananas, chickpeas, onions and garlic. Bananas in particular are helpful to cure constipation since they also contain nutrients like potassium and magnesium.
7. Try Coconut Oil or Castor Oil
Coconut oil and castor oil are known for their health benefits for skin and hair, but they are also great for curing constipation. Consuming these oils can help lubricate the intestines and have a laxative effect when had first thing in the morning. You can have a spoon or two of the oil as it is, but if that’s difficult you can add it to some warm water or milk or even fruit juice.
8. Include Sesame Seeds
Seeds in general are packed with healthy fats and other nutrients, but sesame seeds have the added benefit of healing constipation troubles. The oils in the seeds stimulate the intestines and help soften dry stools, pushing them along easily. Sesame seeds can be added to any dish or they can be pulsed to create sesame paste which can be added to spreads and dressings.
9. Move More
Leading a sedentary lifestyle is one of the reasons for chronic constipation, and this can be fixed easily by moving more. Avoid sitting continuously for more than an hour and add more exercise. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week. Intense exercise like running can stimulate the muscles of the digestive tract. However, for a gentler workout, yoga can help. Specific yoga poses like twists and those which put some pressure on the abdomen can help relieve constipation.
10. Perform an Abdominal Massage
Many people massage their babies’ abdomens when they have digestive issues, but it works just as well for adults as well. You can do it yourself – just lie on your back and gently rub the abdomen in a circular motion for about 10 minutes. Start from the lower right corner of the abdomen and move up. Drinking some warm water or lemon ginger tea prior to the massage also improves its effectiveness.
Besides these tips, it’s better to prevent constipation in the first place, by drinking enough water, eating right and exercising regularly. It also helps to have a regular routine for your bowel movements. Another trick to try is to use the squatting position while passing stools – all you need is a foot stool where you can rest your feet so your intestines are in a better position for elimination.
So that was wrapping up with some effective home remedies for constipation. Avoid reading or using a phone while on the toilet. Also, go when you need to, and don’t hold it in or strain unnecessarily. If you find that constipation occurs when you eat certain foods, keep a food diary to track it. If you notice blood in your stools, rapid weight loss or a complete inability to pass stools, go to the doctor right away.