Constipation could be a big pain in the a**! Being constipated usually means your bowel movements are tougher in nature and happening less frequently. Although constipation is quite normal it can also be quite uncomfortable. Many people who experience constipation are also feeling other symptoms such as, stomach pain, gas, bloating, and potentially a poor appetite.
What causes constipation?
- not enough fibre in the diet
- not enough fluid
- some medications and supplements
- change in routine (can include changes to your diet or activity level)
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- disordered eating
- neurological diseases (like Parkinson's)
- and more!
There are a variety of ways to treat and manage constipation, but today I am going to be sharing my top 5 natural tips to reduce constipation. If you are experiencing prolonged constipation I recommend seeking medical attention from a health care professional (e.g. doctor, dietitian, naturopath etc.). They will be able to provide specific tips and recommendations that meet your individual needs.
1. Increase fibre in your diet
Fibre has many important roles in our body, with one being it's ability to help promote bowel regularity. Having a diet high in fibre should reduce constipation but also promote overall health. Incorporating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes (beans, peas etc.) and nuts and seeds in your daily diet should increase your fibre intake.
Tips to add more fibre into your day:
- choose breads, oats, cereals (aka grain products) with more than 3 grams of fibre per serving
-choose whole grain options (e.g., whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice etc.)
-fill half your plate with fruits and/or vegetables. Think of including a fruit or vegetable at each meal to help increase your fruit/veggie intake and increase your fibre
- add legumes (beans or lentils) to your soups, salads, or meals. I love mixing lentils with my ground meat on taco night.
- add nuts or seeds to your snacks and meals. For example top your salad with seeds, add nuts to your cereal or oatmeal, or have trail mix as a mid afternoon snack.
2. Get moving
Regular exercise can help reduce constipation and other digestive issues. To see changes in your bowel routine, you also need to change your activity routine (for example, if you are currently walking as your main form of activity, change that up). Being active will help get things moving on the inside. I know everyone has different levels of activity, so do more than what you are currently doing to help reduce constipation. That might be an extra walk, another fitness class, or taking the stairs more often.
In general, I recommend being active in some capacity (walking, yard work, yoga, weight training etc.) for 30 minutes each day on most days of the week (5 out of 7 days) to help reduce constipation and promote overall health.
3. Drink more water
Staying hydrated is an important part of maintaining good health and regular bowels. When you increase your fibre intake in your diet you also need to increase the amount of fluid you are consuming to help you digest the foods you are eating. Water works with fibre to help keep things moving along your digestive tract, having too little water or fibre often leads to clogging (aka constipation). The amount of water needed varies from individual to individual, but on average it should be somewhere between 8-12 cups of water each day.
Stress can influence your bowel movements in many different ways, including constipation. Find ways to relax and unwind, whether that be taking up a yoga class, enjoying a coffee or tea with a loved one, or reading a novel wrapped in a cozy blanket. Make time to unwind.
In addition, give yourself time to poop before you leave the house. Feeling rushed (aka stressed) will decrease your chances of going to the washroom and can lead to constipation.
5. Create a routine
Our bodies love routine, having a regular healthy eating and physical activity routine will help reduce your risk of constipation and help keep you regular. Having a morning or afternoon routine can help keep you and your intestines on track.
Tip: give yourself some time between breakfast and leaving your house to help promote regular bowel movements and reduce constipation. If that doesn't work for you, find a routine you are comfortable with. Keep in mind our body has an increased urge to release post meals.
Creating change in your bowel routine will take time, be patient and keep at it. I hope some of these tips will help provide you with ideas to help better your digestive health.
Cheers to happy and healthy digestive health!
Until next time,
Eat Right Feel Right - Angela XO