Constipation - it’s literally a pain point. It’s there, it’s uncomfortable, and only you know what’s going on - or not going on - with your bowels.
Turns out you are in good company. An estimated 4 million Americans have frequent constipation. Keep reading for the best natural ways to beat constipation once and for all.
What is Constipation?
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Constipation is a condition where your stools are hard, dry, or lumpy. (All things you don't want.) There can be 1) waste that is difficult or painful to pass, 2) a feeling that not all stool has passed, and/or 3) weeks where you have less than three bowel movements. In terms of pooping frequency, some people go three times every day while others go three times a week, both of these can be considered normal. Constipation, however, is that feeling where you know you want to go for number two, but you can’t seem to make it happen.
Aside from the signs we mentioned, other symptoms include strained bowel movements and blockage feeling around the rectum area. Constipation may be considered chronic if you've experienced two or more of these symptoms for the last three months.
How to Treat Constipation?
The good news is that constipation is treatable and there are a number of ways we can do so:
- Hydrate. Water is important for preventing constipation and dehydration is one of the common causes of constipation. Water helps keep things moving in the digestive tract. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise helps stop constipation by reducing the time it takes for food to move through the large intestine. This means your body will absorb less water from the stool so you don't have to strain to pass dry waste. Bonus - physical activity keeps your bowels moving too.
- Suppositories. Suppositories are constipation medications that are meant to be inserted directly into the rectum. They are available for over-the-counter purchases and work faster than the laxatives taken by mouth.
- Add more fiber to your diet. Fiber makes stool bulkier and softer so it's easier to pass. (You know we love fiber!) The USDA recommends a daily fiber intake of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
- Watch what you eat.Certain carbohydrates cause digestive problems, including constipation. When not broken down effectively, carbs can end up undigested in the stomach or colon leading to fermentation by the gut bacteria. This leads to gas and bloating.
More About FODMAPs
The names of the carbohydrates are fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols or commonly referred to as “FODMAPs.” Common FODMAPs are fructose, a simple sugar found in many fruits and vegetables; lactose, a carbohydrate found in dairy products like milk; fructans, found in grains like wheat and barley; galactans: found in legumes; and polyols, sugar alcohols like xylitol, and are found in some fruits and vegetables often used as sweeteners. If the cause of your constipation is due to bacteria imbalance of the intestines, taking prebiotics and probiotics may help.
How Fiber Can Help with Constipation?
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One of the easiest ways to stop constipation today is with your diet. As we mentioned earlier, increasing your fiber intake can help prevent constipation. Fiber helps both in softening and bulking up the stool so it’s easier for our body to release it. Soluble fiber absorbs water, turns it into a gel, and slows digestion. Insoluble fiber bulks up the stool making it easier to pass when experiencing constipation.
You can moderately increase your fiber intake until you meet the recommended daily fiber intake. Good sources of fiber include whole grains, nuts, brown rice, beans, vegetables, and fresh or dried fruits.
Other Strategies to Deal With Constipation
Allow yourself enough time to sit on the toilet when you need to go. Adjusting your toilet posture might also help by squatting or leaning back as it may be easier to poop. Do not hold the urge to poop as it can make constipation worse.
Don't ignore constipation, for when it is left untreated, it can lead to problems like hemorrhoids. Seek medical help immediately if you are experiencing constipation with stomach pains, blood and inability to poop, and even unexplained weight loss.
What About Laxatives for Constipation?
You have brought read of or thought about taking laxatives to treat constipation, but they should not be your go-to fix to relieve constipation. If taken at all, laxatives are best taken for the short-term only because they can interfere with the absorption of medications and nutrients of the body. Prolonged use can result in electrolyte imbalance and a dependency on usage for bowel movements. Always consult your doctor before taking any laxative so they can prescribe the best fit and duration in taking them.
Natural Fiber to the Rescue!
As discussed, we recommend lifestyle and diet changes to address constipation. We also know it's hard to hit the recommended daily fiber intake via diet alone. Do you know that 95% of the population in America is not properly getting the recommended dietary fiber? That’s right! But don’t worry, Bonny can help you get your fiber needs.
Bonny is a prebiotic, custom blend, fiber powder supplement that helps you achieve your fiber goals. It is a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber, with psyllium husk and inulin as its most prominent ingredients.
As an added bonus, unlike ordinary fiber supplement powders, Bonny has adaptogens (known stress relievers) and tastes great too! It comes in four flavors: Strawberry Serenity, Matcha Magic, Berry Beauty, and Amplified Apple Pie.
As always, we wish you smooth and painless poops!