Constipation affects many people and may be indicative of an underlying health condition, induced by IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or simply a result of poor nutrition choices. Ideally you should have two to three bowel movements a day, or at the very least one regular bowel movement. Most doctors agree that a person passing hard, small stools, less than 3 times a week is constipated. If you have a sudden change in bowel habits, ruling out any underlying cause with the help of your doctor is the first approach. Thereafter, there are numerous home remedies for constipation such as changes to nutrition & lifestyle that will help ease constipation in most cases. Below are some of the best foods for constipation along with some herbs and supplements to help to get things moving.
Flaxseeds are a soluble form of fiber and very beneficial for people with constipation. They are also a great vegetarian source of omega 3 fatty acids and have hormone balancing properties, so are beneficial for general health as well as relieving constipation naturally and gently. Use them in baking, a tbsp ground and sprinkled onto cereals, fruits and soups, or for stubborn cases of constipation, place a tbsp in a glass of water, soak overnight and drink contents the next morning.
One of nature’s most potent cellular and whole-body detoxifiers and rejuvenators, wheat grass juice simultaneously cleanses and rebuilds. Wheat grass juice is also specifically used for alleviating the symptoms of constipation. Use cold-pressed when possible, to retain the delicate enzymes and nutrients.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is particularly effective at relieving constipation. ACV contains a water soluble fiber called pectin that helps to neutralize acid levels and increase absorption of fiber, which can help relieve constipation. Be sure to take the probiotic variety that contains “The Mother’ just before a meal to improve gut health. It stimulates the release of HCL in the stomach, needed to digest and break down the foods we eat. Probiotics help to rebalance gut flora and should relieve constipation symptoms.
Coconut oil can be taken as a gentle natural laxative to speed up your metabolism and helps cleanse your body of excess waste. Whilst coconut oil is a saturated fat, it contains medium chain triglycerides, which are more easily absorbed and converted to energy by the body. High fat foods, especially deep fried or trans fats, seem to be especially hard on the system for those with IBS and associated constipation, so switching to a more healthy fat like coconut oil may well help to relieve constipation.
One of the first steps in helping to resolve cases of long term constipation or IBS symptoms is to balance your gut bacteria, that is to establish a colony of beneficial, probiotic bacteria in your bowel. Sometimes this is all it takes to alleviate constipation and IBS symptoms for good 🙂 Fermented foods like sauerkraut are a natural source of beneficial bacteria, so including them in your daily diet ensures that beneficial gut bacteria are kept topped up.
Fresh, filtered, well, or mineral water is vital for overall good health, and particularly important for gut health. Dehydration is a very common causes of constipation. When you don’t drink enough water, the large intestine instead starts to soak up water from your food waste. In some cases, constipation immediately resolves once water intake is increased. Water flushes toxins from the body, keeps the cells hydrated and helps maintain intestinal muscle tone. All good reasons to consume at least 8 glasses of water per day (including non-caffeinated herbal teas).
Ginger is well known for its anti-inflammatory and digestive soothing properties. Ginger is also helpful in cases of nausea. Use liberally in cooking, in juices and as a gut soothing tea. A most helpful food to have in your cupboard staples and known to help ease many of the symptoms like constipation associated with IBS.
Triphala is a traditional Ayurvedic bowel cleanser that both strengthens and tones the bowels, encouraging a gentle but restorative detoxification of the entire digestive tract. A mixture of three fruits, it is used to cleanse the whole system by regulating the bowels. Amla is a potent antioxidant and helps to regulate the liver. Haritaki helps to promote bowel movements as well as toning the muscles of the intestines. The third fruit, Bibhitaki, helps to maintain healthy mucus membranes and encourages regularity.
Licorice contains anti-inflammatories and is also soothingly mucilaginous. It soothes an irritated digestion whilst also acting as a demulcent that lubricates a hot and dry digestive tract helping to relieve constipation.
L-Theanine is an amino acid with good calming properties. As stress is known to be an aggravating factor in constipation and IBS, taking a supplement containing L-Theanine may help to reduce stress levels, which in turn may help alleviate constipation associated with IBS symptoms.