If you’re struggling with constipation, then you’ll no doubt be all too aware of just what an embarrassing and uncomfortable condition this is. Constipation can cause significant stomach pain, not to mention making us feel the constant urge to go to the toilet without any chance of relief.
So, if you find yourself struggling with constipation, what can you do? In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the options that don’t involve consuming laxatives that can sometimes be a little too effective.
The best place to start when it comes to relieving constipation is with water. Water is highly effective at fighting constipation and even more so than the foods that relieve constipation. That’s because water helps to dilute your stool, thereby helping to break it up and encourage it to flow normally. At the same time, water can also help to encourage the production of more digestive enzymes to encourage it to break up further and will help to lubricate the various tubes that stool passes through.
In fact, constipation is more often than not caused by dehydration. This occurs when the colon absorbs water from the stool after it has remained in the intestines for too long and so very often, all it really needs is a little rehydration!
Foods that promote a healthy flora (micro-biome or probiotics)We'll make this one simple, we did a more in depth post here on the best probiotics to take for constipation. These cover more of a longterm way to solve the problem instead of a one-time bandaid.
If you’re looking for foods that relieve constipation, then just look for anything that is naturally high in fiber. Specifically, you’re looking for the type of fiber called ‘insoluble fiber’. Insoluble fiber is fiber that won’t be dissolved by water for absorption and therefore never makes it into the blood. This means that it essentially passes straight through the body completely unchanged and that in turn means that it will pass straight through the bowels. Here, it is able to break up the stool in the colon and encourage it to get moving again, essentially breaking down the ‘damn’ that is causing the problem!
There are plenty of sources of natural fiber in your diet, including various fruits (eat the skin), nuts, grains, oats etc.
Among the very best foods that relieve constipation are prunes. Prunes are a kind of multi-pronged attack on constipation and can effectively combat the symptoms in a number of ways all at once.
For starters, prunes are a great source of the aforementioned soluble fiber. At the same time, they are also a source of a crucially powerful active ingredient called sorbitol. Sorbitol is a substance that actively draws in water and absorbs it. This means that if you consume prunes and they make their way into the colon, they will then encourage the body to absorb more fluid from that point onward, thereby helping to combat issues with lack of hydration and thereby encourage the blockage to break up and continue moving again.
Also, effective in prunes is potassium, which is an electrolyte that also draws in water.
As though this wasn’t enough, prunes are also high in vitamin A. Vitamin A is a digestive enzyme, meaning that it has the effect of working like a ‘catalyst’ for digestive reactions. In other words, it helps to encourage the chemical reactions that break up food and help us to then digest them. At the same time, this process is also what allows us to absorb our foods.
And finally, prunes are also a good source of dihydrophenylisation. This is a substance that stimulates movements throughout the intestines and encourages fluid secretion to further soften stool!
Any source of magnesium is going to be a good food for combating constipation. The reason for this is that magnesium is able to relax the smooth muscle tissue by helping to release calcium. Calcium is – among other things – responsible for muscle contractions and makes us tense our muscles. When the muscles release calcium, they therefore become relaxed and at ease which also relaxes the muscles that can push – or block – the movement of stool through the bowels.
There are plenty more ways to relax the muscles like this too. One is to get yourself into a nice warm bath. Another is to try consuming the sleeping aid valerian root!
Avocado is a great source of healthy saturated fats, as well as the incredibly healthy omega 3 fatty acid. We won’t go into all the ways that omega 3 can help to boost your cellular health and your brain power here, but suffice to say that it is able to encourage healthy bowel movements by adding fats to your stool. These fats can in turn help to make the stool move more easily by lubricating them and thereby encouraging movement in the right direction. From this point, it’s just down to gravity to do the rest!
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has a large range of health benefits (as well as many risks – make sure that you do your research!) and many of these pertain to digestion and yes, healthy bowel movements.
For one, apple cider vinegar can stimulate the release of various digestive enzymes which we’ve already discussed are very useful for breaking up food as well as stool. Consume apple cider vinegar and you should be able to break down blockages and thereby encourage the release that you’re looking for!
At the same time, apple cider vinegar is also a fermented food (it is made by fermenting apple sugars). This means that it is a great environment for healthy cultures of bacteria to breed, which has immense benefit for constipation.
That’s because the healthy bacteria in your gut is responsible for many important processes. Among other things, your gut flora is responsible for producing a lot of the digestive enzymes we need to break up our food and to absorb them into the blood stream. In this way, consuming apple cider vinegar can help to break up your food more effectively and prevent constipation.
If you want to get the most benefit, then you should consume the ‘mother’ which contains the most healthy cultures. Yogurt can also do a similar trick!