I have seen an increasing number of patients lately who have been complaining about sluggish and uncomfortable bowel movement, now I know the subject of bowel movements (or a lack of) is not exactly a very glamorous discussion topic however, it is a necessary one so here it goes…..
Constipation occurs when your bowel movements become infrequent and difficult to pass. It may also involve pain, swelling and cramping through the abdominal region. Everybody’s bowel movements differ although, anything less than 3 bowel movements a week may be an indication that you are suffering from constipation.
Most of us will suffer from this uncomfortable condition at some stage. Some of us will turn to laxatives, some to powders or enemas and for some it is accepted as an ongoing frustration from which there is no escape. Very few people realise that constipation and its symptoms can be relieved through natural avenues.
I have compiled a list of natural constipation remedies. The treatment you choose will depend on the cause of your constipation.
1. Drink water
Are you making sure that you have an adequate daily intake of water? Your stool needs water to “Plump-up” in the bowels making it easier to pass so it is crucial that you stay hydrated. It is recommended that adult males consume 2.6 Litres of water a day and women should consume 2.1 Litres a day.
2. Change your diet
Make sure you are eating foods which are fibre-rich as they stimulate the bowels and also improve digestive health. Make sure you are prioritising fruit and vegetables in your diet. The recommended daily fibre intake for men is 30g/day and for women it’s 25g/day. Constipation can also result from an over consumption of fats, refined sugars and dairy so you may want to limit your intake of foods which fall under these categories. If you would like natural dietary advice consulting with our Naturopath Louise may also assist in your problem.
Go for a walk or participate in another form of exercise to help stimulate your digestive tract.
4. Chill Out
Stress does nothing for the bowels so we might as well work to eliminate that as well. Try taking a yoga class, do some deep breathing exercises or maybe come and get a massage. When the internal movements of the intestines become sluggish it may need a little bit of a helping hand.
5. Cut the caffeine
I know how hard this may be for a lot of you and I’m almost certain that you’re cursing my name while you read this but i am afraid that caffeine is a big “no no” when it comes to constipation. Long term caffeine consumption can cause dehydration which in turn exacerbates the problem. Our caffeine-aholics anonymous group meets on Mondays. Herbal tea provided.
6. I’m afraid Alcohol is out of the question too.
Alcohol also operates in the same way that caffeine does and dehydrates your body. So it’s time to say bye-bye to the bubbly.
Prunes are exceptionally high in fibre and also have a high level of Sorbitol which is a natural stool-loosening sugar which mildly stimulates the colon and decreases the transit time of stool and thus eases constipation. I would suggest eating the prunes as opposed to drinking prune juice. Prune juice has a lower sorbitol count and a lot of prune juices have loads of added sugar.
8. Maintain good toilet posture
Ideally squatting is the best position to be in when you are eliminating your bowel. However, please only practise this in your own home.
I also would like to remind you that pain, swelling and cramping through the abdominal region are not always linked to constipation and may be a group of symptoms belonging to another condition. I always recommend that if the natural remedies I have suggested do not alleviate your symptoms please do not hesitate to see your doctor. I always suggest that you talk to your health professional before you undergo any change in your daily activities where a medical condition is involved.
Soft tissue massage and bowel release techniques are by far the most effective at relieving constipation. Impaction of the bowel can often easily be relieved with the appropriate techniques. Massage is also great for change in blood flow and changes to nerves that function to stimulate bowel movement.
If you have any concerns or questions contact us to discuss.