Today, constipation is a household name in all parts of the globe. This is because it is a very common occurrence in everyone, both children and adults. Statistically, out of every 100 adults, about 16 adults are found with symptoms of constipation.
This condition can be very discomforting, and embarrassing, and can even affect our plans and schedules. We all must have first-hand knowledge of home remedies for constipation. They will be very helpful in getting rid of this condition as soon as possible, and also in preventing it.
If you’ve experienced constipation, then you know that it isn’t something to wish even your enemy. Let’s stay glued to learn more.
What is constipation?
Constipation is a medical condition that is characterized mainly by the inability to pass stool for three days or more. It is also described as passing very hard stools, having to strain before passing stools, and feeling of unemptied bowels after passing stool.
This health condition can be caused by several factors, ranging from dehydration to eating the wrong kind of food, to some underlying health conditions. For example, it can be a sign of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It can also arise as a side effect of certain medications such as opioid analgesics, blood pressure drugs, iron-containing supplements, etc.
The good news is that this discomforting condition can be tackled right in the comfort of our homes.
Home remedies for constipation
- Caffeinated coffee. Coffee, especially a hot cup of coffee with high caffeine content greatly helps with digestion and overall gastrointestinal motility, by causing muscle contraction. This contraction now leads to the expulsion of the faeces. Although the side effects of caffeine are known and should be avoided because of its negative impact on health, coffee can be taken once in a while, especially in times like this, to ease constipation. Some research on this subject has yielded positive results. But it is important to note that caffeine can also cause dehydration, which can further worsen constipation. Hence, a cup of coffee should be accompanied by cups of water too.
- Fibre-rich foods. Over and over again, we read and hear of the importance of fibre in our diets. Fibres are considered part of a healthy diet. Some of the reasons are that it aids digestion, helps the gut microbiota, and also prevents constipation. When constipation has already set it, however, fibres also come in handy, especially the non-fermentable soluble fibres, like psyllium. Research states that refusal of fibres has helped in 77% of relief from constipation. But not all fibres are completely useful in treating constipation. Insoluble fibres, such as those in vegetables, work by adding bulk to stools and making them move out of the GIT easily. These are best for preventing constipation. The soluble fibres, such as those in fruits, lentils, beans, peas, nuts, and barleys, are very useful for constipation. They help to absorb water and soften stools, making them easily expelled. Some of them are however fermentable by the gut microbiota. When this occurs, they lose their ability to absorb water and may not relieve constipation. The best type of fibre for treating constipation is the non-fermentable soluble fibre, like that in psyllium.
- Enough water. When it comes to both the prevention and treatment of constipation, drinking enough water is always key. Water is very good for digestion. The most common cause of constipation is dehydration. When there’s little or no water in the GIT, it leads to the formation of hard stools. When constipation sets in, drinking plenty of water, especially warm water, can help to soften stool, and lead to easy passage. Although this will not happen immediately. It may take two to three hours for the effect to be experienced. Constipation can also be idiopathic in some people. For this category of people, drinking sufficient water daily is a must. Depending on the weather, age, and body size, such people are not expected to consume less than eight glasses of water a day. It is also important that the consumption of water throughout the day is evenly distributed.
- Exercise. Yes, exercise has also been shown to be useful.in relieving constipation. Although, it is best employed with other tips like drinking water and eating fibre. When you feel constipated, consider taking brisk walks, swimming, or jogging. Some research finds this useful, especially in people with constipation related to IBS. Other sites do not support that exercise is useful in relieving constipation, but is best at preventing constipation, as a sedentary lifestyle is a leading cause of constipation as well.
- Squatting. This is another hack to improve the expulsion of faeces from the GIT. Sitting on the toilet seat exerts no form of abdominal pressure and may lead to straining without results during constipation. This straining can cause both internal and external haemorrhoids. It can also lead to anal tears. All these are painful conditions that should be prevented. Squatting is very useful during constipation, as it helps to exercise pressure on the abdominal region, leading to easy passage of stool from the GIT, without having to strain. This of course also works better when accompanied by other home remedies like drinking sufficient warm water and consuming fibre.
- Tea. Tea, in all its forms, is very useful in aiding digestion. Some teas containing ginger are very helpful for constipation because ginger is a natural purgative. This is the same for peppermint. For black and green tea, they work just like caffeinated coffee. When constipated, drinking ginger or peppermint-containing tea works like magic. However, these teas should always be accompanied by cups of water. There are also other useful remedies, such as eating probiotic-containing foods, like yoghurt and kombucha. These help to restore gut microbiota that can also relieve constipation.
Everyone gets to experience constipation at some point in life. It can occur due to different reasons, but the good news is that we can all experience relief right there in the comfort of our homes.
Drinking sufficient water, taking tea, exercising, eating foods rich in soluble, non-fermentable fibres, taking supplements, practising squatting, and the like, are various ways through which we can experience huge relief.
David Tobin did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.