There are three steps you should take when constipated. The first step is for anyone currently suffering from constipation. Steps two and three help to reduce its occurrence in the future, preventing your discomfort and injury caused by stool sitting in the colon.
Let’s get started.
Step 1. Get Things Moving
If you need to get things moving, you have options that can work fast. It really depends on your preference. Do you want to relieve your constipation naturally or are you looking for an over-the-counter (OTC) laxative?
Constipation isn’t a new problem, so you can find a lot of safe, natural and traditional ways to deal with it. After all, people dealt with constipation long before there were any modern, synthetic medications. Natural and traditional ways to relieve constipation didn’t become popular for any other reason than they worked.
If you prefer to use an OTC laxative, you should probably talk to your doctor first to make sure it’s safe for you to use. In the meantime, you might try one of these traditional, natural remedies.
It may seem simple, but drinking water can help end constipation, especially if it hasn’t been going on too long. Sipping warm water first thing when you wake up in the morning can help get things going. Drinking other warm liquids (like tea or soup) may also help.
Whether you like the taste or not, prunes work. There’s a good reason for this. Prunes contain sorbitol, a natural sugar alcohol with a laxative effect. Research has shown that prunes work better than fiber, making them one of nature’s safest and most effective constipation relievers.[i]
If you like coffee, keep drinking it. Coffee has been shown to stimulate the colon in as little as four minutes after drinking it. Depending on how constipated you are (and the reasons), it may take a little longer before you experience any effects.[ii]
Go for a Walk.
Exercise of any kind is good, but it can be as simple as going out for a walk. Exercise, especially walking, jogging or running, moves the bowels around, increasing blood flow to the area and also stimulating movement in the colon.
Research has shown that taking probiotics when constipated can bring relief. Probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, and others as well as probiotic supplements can encourage the urge to go.[iii]
Consume Prebiotic Fiber.
Prebiotics also appear to bring constipation relief by softening stool and stimulating bowel movements.[iv] Prebiotics are dietary fibers which act as a food source for those beneficial probiotic bacteria, but also appear to help support intestinal health.
Traditional medicines around the world have relied on specific herbal remedies for centuries and longer to relieve constipation. Senna is one such herb known for its laxative effect. Triphala, a popular Ayurvedic therapy, is another. If you do decide to try an herbal remedy, always investigate to see if there are any potential side effects and check for quality stamps on the label like GMP (Good Manufacturing Process).
Try a Magnesium Supplement.
Magnesium is an essential mineral involved with hundreds of processes in the human body. It’s also essential for muscle movement, such as the muscles that keep your bowels moving. Magnesium also attracts water when in the digestive tract, so that can help increase water to soften stool as well. Magnesium citrate is popular. Oxygenated magnesium is also becoming exceptionally popular for its gentle effectiveness.
What Should You Try to Relieve Constipation?
Most people and doctors too prefer to relieve constipation naturally, when possible. Trying any of the above is a good place to start. Even better, many of them are easily available (water and exercise especially) and relatively low-cost like prunes, yogurt, and coffee.
Relieving a bout of constipation, however, is really only the first step. Now that you feel better, it’s important to take steps from preventing it from recurring. After all, that bloated, “off” feeling you get when constipated isn’t really an experience you or anyone else wants to repeat, right?
Step #2. Identify Causes
There are a lot of reasons constipation can occur. To limit your risk of it returning, it’s worth taking a moment to identify what caused it.
- Were you dehydrated?
- Did you maybe overdo the dairy?
- Was it just a case of bad timing, in that you just couldn’t find the time when you first felt the urge?
Things like this happen. Other reasons that could cause you to become constipated could include[i]:
- Not enough fiber in the diet
- A lack of regular exercise
- Taking antacids
- Irritable bowels
Identifying, if it’s possible, what caused it can go a long way to reducing its frequency. For example, if your diet consists of a lot of processed foods, you may not be getting enough dietary fiber. While constipation is going to happen from time to time, there are factors you can control.
Step 3. Take Action to Encourage Good Digestive Health
Diet and exercise are two of the simplest ways to stay regular.
Getting plenty of dietary fiber and limiting dairy and meat consumption can go a long way to preventing constipation from becoming a regular issue. That’s not to say you shouldn’t eat dairy or meat if you like to. Rather, make sure if you do you take steps to ensure the best possible digestion of everything you eat.
Adding probiotics to your diet is another good way to keep your gut healthy. Of course, dietary probiotics can be a challenge as foods like sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and others may not be the most palate pleasing to everyone. Yogurt and kefir are dairy products which may not appeal to everyone, plus you need to make sure your yogurt has a good blend of probiotic strains for the best effect. This is why many people turn to probiotic supplements. There are a lot of good ones out there, although we’re somewhat biased for Flora Infused.
Another way to keep yourself regular is through regular, but gentle cleansing. For this, most people turn to oxygenated magnesium supplements like Cleanse Infused. The oxygen helps to break up waste buildup while magnesium helps to increase water in the intestines and encourage muscle movement. Regular cleansing helps to remove waste build-up in the colon, the ultimate cause of constipation.
Wondering how often you should cleanse? Check out this article where we discuss just that subject.
-  Attaluri A1, et al. Randomised clinical trial: dried plums (prunes) vs. psyllium for constipation. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Apr;33(7):822-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04594.x. Epub 2011 Feb 15.
-  Boekema PJ1, et al. Coffee and gastrointestinal function: facts and fiction. A review. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 1999;230:35-9.
-  Eirini Dimidi, et al. The effect of probiotics on functional constipation in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 100, Issue 4, 1 October 2014, Pages 1075–1084, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.114.089151.
-  Niittynen L, Kajander K, Korpela R. Galacto-oligosaccharides and bowel function. Scand J Food Nutr. 2007;51(2):62–66.
-  https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-constipation#1-3