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Relieving Constipation: A Few Healthy Tips

Updated on January 25, 2010

Finding Yourself Tied Up In Knots?

Relief from constipation can be a knotty experience!
Relief from constipation can be a knotty experience!

Feeling a bit on the irregular side?

With the recent ending of the holiday season; and all the extreme yummies I heartily consumed, I found myself … can I say … a little on the irregular side of the bowl. It’s tough sometimes. Yet I’m a man. And one who’s not ashamed to say that, yes, I was a wee bit constipated. Bloated. Feeling more than full. And in general, full of it!

This is not the first—or the last—time such an event occurred in my life. In fact, if I don’t watch what I eat on a regular basis, bouts of constipation can rear their ugly head. Not to gross anyone out, but when you’re constipated—sometimes for weeks—life can get more than irritable for both you and those around you. Trust me on that one! Your entire focus during times like these is on relieving constipation and relieving it QUICK!

The good news, though, is that I think I’ve landed a remedy that works for me.

(Insert disclaimer here)

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a medical doctor, or an expert by any means. The following plan for occasional relief of constipation is mine, solely mine, and it works…for me. So take it for what you will. I’m not selling anything. Nor do I want to be considered a sage in the area. All said, it’s time to move on.


So, just what is constipation?

As a general definition, you are constipated if you pass a hard, dry stool less than three times a week. If you pass soft stools less than three times a week, you’re probably OK. The key is the lack of moisture which is one of the reasons people end up constipated in the first place.

Constipation is one of the most common digestive conditions affecting literally millions of people each year. Constipation is often uncomfortable; many times quite painful; and can lead to more serious health conditions if left untreated for long periods of time. In short, relieving constipation should be your main concern; doing so, on the other hand, can be a bit tricky.

My story is not one of: hey, it works for me then it should work for you. No. Rather, my story is one of trial and error that has sifted down to a few principles; none of which require rushing to a doctor, or purchasing some overly-hyped colon cleanse product. Save your money. Everything I use can be purchased at your local grocery store or tapped out of your faucet. And so, without further delay, here’s how I found relief for constipation.

My plan for relieving constipation

No need to beat around the bush here. If you’re constipated, you know it. I knew it. But now I have a plan. Here are the basics:

Water, Water, Water…

Yes. I know it sounds like common sense. And it is. But the truth is, without adequate water intake, your intestines will not lubricate properly, the nutrients from your food will not be absorbed completely, and peristalsis (AKA the muscle contractions that move food through your gut) is slowed--not a good thing.

How much water should you drink?

As a general rule, you should consume at least 50% of your total body weight in water every day! Therefore, if you pound the scale at 180 lbs., you need to drink 90 ozs. of water every day. Personally, I tend to go beyond this number by about 10%. As I said earlier, it works for me.

Moderate stretching exercises, yoga, and simple cardio…

Wow, you might say! I have to move my body to get my bowels to move? Yes. You do. Simply stretching out various parts of your body (e.g. your side, upper, and lower abdominals) will tell your body, in a subtle way, that you mean business. Muscle stimulation has a ripple effect in your body. It may take a couple of days to feel any difference but it does work!

Mild cardiovascular exercise (e.g. walking or jogging in place, or climbing a few stairs) will also send your body the message to wake up. Our bodies are designed to work. When we slow them down, they tend to comply.

So get moving! You will feel better!

A diet rich in fiber, and complex carbohydrates…

This, too, is basic stuff. We humans lack the enzyme that breaks down cellulose in the body. In other words, we can’t digest fiber. Horses can. We can’t. But hey, horses can’t eat a good steak once in a while either! So take that Gus!

OK. OK. No more digressing… If you add at least 30 grams of fiber, preferably insoluble fiber, to your diet every day, eventually your intestines will throw up the white flag and tend to their prescribed duties. You may have some uncomfortable and/or flatulent moments along the way, but hey, we’re looking big picture here. Right?

What types of foods work for me?

I’m glad you asked. Here’s a short list:

  • Whole grain cereals without added sugar: sugar is BAD for constipation so limit it the best you can.
  • Beans and other legumes: high in fiber and protein are never a bad combo.
  • Green leafy vegetables: high in fiber, iron, and loads of other good stuff for you; not to mention your immune system will bag plenty of goodies.
  • Prune juice mixed with other whole juices: Besides having a lot of fiber, prune juice contains many essential probiotics for your digestive tract. If you can’t stomach the taste, mix prune juice with apple juice 60-40%. Works for me.
  • Psyllium powder: Yes, good old power fiber in a spoon. Mix this fluffy stuff with your prune juice concoction and you’re off to the races in a big way. It does take some time to get a taste for it, though.
  • Other complex carbohydrates such as: apples, celery, lemon juice, lime juice, cabbage, broccoli, etc. are always great to toss in a salad here or there.

There are, of course, foods to avoid. This IS the hard stuff…

Limit or eliminate the following until your bowels are flowing, so to speak.

  • Dairy products
  • Red meat and other processed meats
  • Baked goods with high fat contents
  • Salty foods and sodium in general
  • Any type of soda pop, diet or not!

And there you have it. Hope I haven’t spoiled your day :)

The general plan:

Whenever I face the occasional bout of constipation, I employ bits and pieces of the above outline every day. You don't need to go all-out all at once. The effects of that could be .... well they could be messy! My advice (for what it's worth) is to make sure you get moving and do something.

Relief for constipation is really all about preventing constipation. A healthy lifestyle that includes any of the above is better than doing nothing.

This hub is merely a guide. Use it for what you will. Experiment. Don't get too frustrated. And remember, it took you a while to get clogged in the first place. So logic says it will take more than a day to relieve the moon!

Have a great day :)


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    • Rob Jundt profile image

      Rob Jundt 7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Malcolm: Thanks for stopping by! Yes, sugar is not only the enemy of constipation it IS the primary reason why so many people are chronically out of shape and ill. Why? Because excess sugar creates excess insulin production which stimulates the body to store fat... and that is a BAD thing. Fiber, along with a steady diet of lean meat, fruits and veggies, and exercise is the great equalizer.

      Once again, thanks for reading. For an easy dose of healthy fiber eat 1-2 apples every day. Not only do they contain loads of other healthy nutrients, they are great for your digestive system.

      Have a great day!


    • Malcolm_Cox profile image

      Malcolm_Cox 7 years ago from Newcastle, England

      This is a great hub. I eat too much sugar so need to watch out for that. Must eat more FIBRE!