When it comes to being “regular”, there really is no standard. The definition of normal bowel movement differs from person to person. Whether you go to the bathroom three times a day or three times a week, the symptoms of constipation are generally the same for everyone. If you don’t have a bowel movement as often as usual, or if your stools are hard, dry, or painful, you probably have constipation.
Constipation is quite common, fortunately, this problem is rarely a sign of a serious illness and can usually be solved without drastic measures. In fact, there are several known home remedies for constipation that can ease the discomfort. If your constipation is accompanied by abdominal pain, bloody stools, or unexpected weight loss, see a doctor. But for ordinary episodes of constipation, these non-drug remedies will likely do the trick.
1. Add fiber to your diet
One of the best-known home remedies for constipation is fiber. They bulk up the stool and help it pass through the intestines faster. The recommended dose of fiber per day is approximately 25 grams (g) for women and 38 g for men, or 14 g per 1000 calories. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good sources of fibre. Fiber is a handy remedy for constipation because most people already have these products in their fridge or pantry. Fiber supplements like psyllium (Metamucil) or methylcellulose (Citrucel) can also be used.
When increasing your fiber intake, it’s best to start slowly because too much fiber too quickly can lead to gas and bloating.
Fiber can also make constipation worse if you don’t drink plenty of water at the same time. For fiber to help relieve constipation, it needs fluids to move through the digestive system. Fiber from dietary supplements, in particular, should be taken with water to avoid aggravating constipation.
2. Drink plenty of water
Proper hydration is important for overall health. It keeps your body functioning properly and helps you stay regular. If you are constipated, drink plenty of water, especially lukewarm or hot water, to trigger defecation. As for water intake, try for women to drink 9 cups of water a day, while men should drink 13. One cup equals 30ml. But don’t worry about counting cups: Just drink fluids continuously throughout the day. Even brief dehydration can lead to constipation.
If you haven’t had a bowel movement in a few days and you’re feeling lethargic, avoid the urge to collapse on the couch. The colon responds to activity, and exercise can stimulate the bowels. There’s no need to overwork yourself running a marathon if you don’t feel up to it. A simple walk outside can be enough to get your digestive tract moving again.
4. Try Herbal Medicine
Herbs are one of the oldest treatments for constipation. Many cultures around the world have used plants to cure constipation for thousands of years. These proven remedies are generally divided into two categories: bulking laxatives and stimulant laxatives.
According to one study, psyllium, derived from a very common plant, can be purchased in powder or supplement form and has been shown to increase stool frequency and improve stool consistency. The same review describes constipation-boosting herbs such as senna, cascara segrada, and aloe, all of which have been shown to stimulate the intestines in clinical trials. It should be noted that stimulant laxatives should only be taken in cases of acute constipation, on the advice of a healthcare professional.
One reason to think twice about using herbs for constipation is that stimulant laxatives, especially aloe, can cause cramping. In addition to side effects, herbal constipation treatments may interact with medications and supplements. Always consult a qualified healthcare professional before taking herbal medicines.
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