In the wellness field, we celebrate regular movements and what we consider healthy bowel function, but constipation is one thing some prefer to keep to ourselves. It’s painful and embarrassing, but the bottom line is this issue says a lot about what’s going on with our body.
As I left for a cross country trip this week, I couldn’t help but wonder if a bout of constipation was going to hit me as it notoriously does during times of travel. It’s as if my body knows the schedule is going to be thrown off and becomes a no-go zone. No wonder Americans spend almost a billion dollars a year on laxatives (laxatives, I should add that only contribute to the problem and make it harder for us in the long run).
The good news is that acute and chronic constipation can be greatly reduced or resolved with 11 natural remedies for preventing & treating constipation.
- Prevention is key, if you need to go to the bathroom, go! This is one of the easiest ways to prevent constipation. Listen to your body signals. The longer you fight them off, the more water is absorbed from stools, making it even more difficult to go. If you delay your natural duty, discomfort and pain can ensue, triggering constipation. Your travel partner, date, or family can wait. In the long run, it’s much better to use prevention method to avoiding constipation and suffer embarrassment over physical pain.
- Lemon water is your digestive system’s best friend. I preach drinking at least 3 glasses of water with lemon every day for digestive benefit because the citric acid in lemon juice stimulates your digestive system, flushes out toxins, and undigested material stuck on your colon walls. Adding the lemon to water hydrates the body which helps the colon in eliminating waste. Simply squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a glass of water.
- A little oil is good for your system. Oil is symbolic with smooth runnings. Olive oil and coconut oil are more than healthy fats for the body. They stimulate the digestive system, get things moving, and relieve constipation. Oil works best on an empty stomach, starting the day with a spoonful of olive oil or coconut oil should provide relief rather quickly.
- Increase your intake of fiber rich foods. This tip probably seems like a no-brainer, but we too often turn to over the counter fiber replacers instead of going for more beneficial fiber rich foods. Eating the right kinds of foods in the first place prevent constipation. Making a habit of eating more fiber-rich and water-rich foods on a daily basis can reduce the causes of chronic constipation and improve your overall health: beans, leafy greens, cherries, apricots, berries, broccoli, prunes, apples, pears, nuts, and potaotes (not in french fry form!) are high fiber options. In addition, adding a scoop of flax seed or chia to your smoothie or green juice can do wonders.
- Get moving to get moving. If you want to move junk through your body, you need to get moving too! A long plane ride or our long days sitting at the office don’t help. A sedentary lifestyle wreaks havoc on our system. Movement and exercise stimulate peristalsis, the contraction and relaxation of muscles that encourage bowel movement and reduce constipation. Lymphatic exercises, trampoline workouts, yoga, and even a long walk are good for toning the colon and keeping you moving.
- Take Magnesium. Low micronutrient intake (think Calcium, Sodium, Zinc, Potassium, and Magnesium) is associated with increase in constipation. Many of my clients, like most Americans, are magnesium deficient. Magnesium is easy to supplement and a simple natural remedy for constipation. Magnesium relaxes the nervous system and increases bowel movements. Taking a magnesium tablet before bed or drinking a packet of “Calm” magnesium powder mixed with water will help to improve elimination.
- Sleep it off. Digestion and elimination get backed up when we’re under rested. We’ve become so used to inadequate sleep that we may think the poor digestion and elimination that results from it are normal, but a few nights of restorative sleep can make a world of difference. If you’re suffering from constipation, make a point to go to bed early (before 10pm or an hour to two prior to your normal time). If you can fit it in, taking a 20-30 minute nap is also beneficial. A consistent sleep pattern is key to making chronic constipation disappear.
- Have a green juice. I think you should have a green juice every day regardless of your bathroom issues, but green juice is the ideal “cleansing” drink. Stick to low-sugar blends and vegetal ingredients. Celery, cucumber, leafy greens are hydrating and full of nutrients and minerals. A blend like this will keep you hydrated and keep your bowels moving, If you really want to step up your juice for constipation, add juice aloe vera leaf or add 1-2 Tablespoons George’s Aloe Vera and stir into your green juice to get your bowels going.
- Just RELAX. Easier said than done and probably not what you want to hear, but stress is a very overlooked cause of constipation. Travel can especially induce stress related constipation because you’re out of your comfort zone, dealing with changing plans, long flights, and new surroundings. Shutting down with a 20 minute meditation (Calm.com), taking a few minutes complete breathing exercise, taking a walk, or zoning out with a good book, and giving your body TLC can help you relax and begin to function more regularly.
- Brew a cup of Every Day Detox Dandelion Tea. Dandelion root is used to detoxify, soothe upset stomach, and relieve constipation. This tea is a combination of herbs that blend dandelion with chicory roots and schisandra berries for liver detoxifying properties. Brew a cup to aid relaxation and give your liver some extra love.
- Consume fermented foods and take a daily probiotic –Miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, coconut water kefir and kombucha are fantastic sources of probiotics and can improve gut function, especially constipation, by repopulating your gut with beneficial bacteria – start with small amounts and build up. If you’re not keen on fermented foods, consider a high quality probiotic supplement. I recommend RENEW Life, minimum 50B (if you’re constipated, try the 100B or higher option).
If you’re suffering from chronic constipation and have tried these tips, seeking medical guidance would be the next best step. If you have questions, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org