When it comes to being “regular”, there really is no standard. The definition of normal bowel movement varies 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 bowel movements as often as usual, or if your stool is hard, dry, or sore, you probably have constipation.
Constipation is quite common, fortunately this problem is rarely a sign of a serious illness and can usually be resolved without drastic measures. In fact, there are several known home remedies for constipation that can ease the discomfort. If constipation is accompanied by abdominal pain, bloody stools, or unexpected weight loss, see a doctor. But for normal constipation bouts, 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 make the stool stronger and help it pass through the intestines faster. The recommended dose of fiber per day is around 25 grams (g) for women and 38 g for men, which is 14 g per 1000 calories. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are good sources of fiber. Fiber is a handy remedy for constipation because most people already have these products in the refrigerator or pantry. Fiber supplements such as 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 cause gas and bloating.
Fiber can also make constipation worse if you don’t drink a lot of water at the same time. In order for fiber to help relieve constipation, it needs fluids to move through the digestive system. The fibers of food supplements, in particular, must be taken with water to avoid aggravation of constipation.
2. Drink lots 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 warm or hot, to trigger defecation. When it comes to water intake, try to make women 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 liquids continuously throughout the day. Even a brief dehydration can lead to constipation.
If you haven’t had a bowel movement for a few days and are feeling lethargic, avoid the urge to collapse on the sofa. The colon responds to activity and exercise can stimulate the intestines. There’s no need to overwork yourself by running a marathon if you don’t feel up to it. A simple walk outdoors may be enough to get your digestive system moving again.
4. Try herbal medicine
Herbs are one of the oldest treatments for constipation. Many cultures around the world have used plants to treat constipation for thousands of years. These proven remedies are generally divided into two categories: bulking laxatives and stimulant laxatives.
According to a 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 herbs that stimulate constipation such as senna, cascara segrada, and aloe, all of which have been shown to stimulate the gut in clinical studies. It should be noted that stimulant laxatives should be taken only in case of acute constipation, on the advice of a doctor.
One reason to think twice about using herbs for constipation is that stimulant laxatives, especially aloe, can cause cramps. In addition to side effects, herbal constipation treatments can interact with medications and supplements. Always consult a qualified health care practitioner before taking herbal medicines.
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