How to Cure Constipation Without Medicine
An embarrassing subject....
It's not the nicest thing in the world to talk about, but when you feel constipated it really is uncomfortable. You can feel bloated, full of gas and lose your appetite. You have less energy and occasional stomach cramps, making life feel pretty awful.
So what is constipation?
Basically the need to go to the toilet but having difficulty to open your bowels. Stools may be hard or painful and you just can't go.
On the Bristol Stool Chart (used by health care professionals) a type 1 stool is hard, lumpy and shows signs of constipation. Type 7 is the lowest which is the complete opposite - very watery feces.
A healthy person should be type 3 - 5. Below 3 indicates constipation, whilst type 6 and 7 suggests diarrhoea.
How do I know if I am constipated?
You will know your own habits, including your bowel habits. We are all different, but it is normal to go to the toilet once or twice a day.
You would tend to go around the same time each day. Maybe in the morning after breakfast and a cup of coffee, or in the afternoon after lunch.
If you usually go everyday, missing a day or two will be noticeable. If you feel the urge but find it hard to pass, then you are constipated.
What are the causes?
There are many factors to consider when you face constipation. These are the common causes:
- Medication, such as strong painkillers
- Fasting or eating very little
- Lack of exercise
- Poor diet and lack of fiber
- Medical reasons such as spinal injury, MS, cancer of the colon or rectum, or tumors of the bowel
- Age (the very young and the elderly may be prone)
Finding a cure
There are many types of medicines readily available to help ease the problem but this is not necessarily the answer. Simply changing your lifestyle can give you results.
Medicines such as Lactose, Movicol, Syrup of Figs and Senna are usually prescribed if you have chronic constipation. These are not a permanent solution however, as laxatives of these sorts use water from the body to soften the stool. This will lead to dehydration eventually.
Relying on laxatives is not a great solution and overuse of them can cause problems.
These include being unable to go to the toilet without taking them, becoming deficient in vitamins and minerals, low blood pressure or very loose stools and incontinence of feces.
This is due to the bowel relaxing and then being unable to hold the contents - an extreme effect of laxative abuse.
Change what you eat
Addressing your diet is the first step to regulating your bowel habits. You need to eat the right things in order for your body to digest it properly.
Overloading your system with junk food high in fat and little nutritional value will bloat you and make you sluggish. A sluggish bowel means irregular toilet trips.
Fruit and Vegetables
It sounds obvious and medical experts bang on about the importance of having your 5 a day, but they say it for a reason.
In fact there are many, many good reasons for having 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day. But one of those reasons is to keep you regular.
Fruit and veg are high in water content and fiber. Fiber is great for your insides. It moves quickly through the intestines and keeps the stools softened. It also cleans out the colon which lowers the risk of bowel related diseases.
Try eating fruit with edible skins for extra roughage (apples, pears, nectarines), bananas, fruit rich in vitamin C (oranges, strawberries, kiwi) and dried fruit such as dried apricots and prunes.
Eating stewed or cooked fruit is also good for the digestive system.
Eat more veg than fruit during the day as fruit is higher in sugars.
Whole grains are unrefined and far better for us than refined grains found in pasta, white bread and tortillas. The whole grain contains B vitamins and folic acid, as well as that all important fiber.
Whole grains can be found in:
- Whole grain bread
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat pasta /tortillas /crackers
- Wild rice
Making a simple switch from white bread, cream crackers, white pasta and white rice to the whole grain versions will make a significant difference.
Our bodies need water. It's great for hundreds of reasons from reducing headaches and tiredness to dry and unclear skin. It has so many health benefits and keeping our fluids up is another good way to clear out the colon and improve our digestive system.
Flushing out toxins and waste will be done more easily by drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water each day. If you can drink cooled boiled water it will get things moving nicely.
Squeeze some fresh lemon into your warm drink for a cleansing and refreshing beverage.
Having herbal teas are also great for a clear out. Peppermint tea helps the digestive system and settles an irritable bowel. While nettle tea can help awaken the bowel and is great first thing in the morning.
Any fruit or caffeine free tea helps with your fluid intake, so have these if you find plain water a little dull. Also, try switching to these if you drink a lot of caffeine fueled drinks
Tea and coffee with caffeine can also reduce constipation as caffeine acts as a stimulant, and it is a diuretic. Do not overdo it though in case it leads to diarrhoea.
Non- saturated fats found in good oils help as act as a lubricant, helping you to pass stools easily.
Foods to eat include:
- Oily fish, such as mackerel and salmon
- Olive oil
- Unsalted plain nuts
- Flax Seeds
A healthier lifestyle
A little bit of exercise each day gets all the muscles warmed up, including the muscles in the bowel. Doing a little walking or cycling everyday can help get things going.
Sitting or lying for long periods of time can slow down movements.
By massaging your abdomen in a clockwise direction for small periods of time each day, you can help to reduce the fecal build up in the colon. Use massage oil to help.
If you are unsure, try a health clinic where a specialist can do it for you and give you advice.
Otherwise known as colonic irrigation, a trained professional will perform this in a specialized clinic or beauty parlor.
The idea is to cleanse the colon using warm water, positioned in the rectum to flush out the colon. The treatment lasts around 20 to 30 minutes and it is recommended to have this done two or three times a year.
Those who promote colonic hydrotherapy believe it clears out the system, reduces toxins and gases and helps to keep on top of constipation.
The risk however may be a perforated colon due to the water pressure, and full research should be carried out before deciding to go ahead.