Constipation is a common condition which involves infrequent or uncomfortable bowel movements. If the problem persists for an extended period, consulting a physician is recommended. Left untreated, it can produce more consequential conditions including obstipation, fecal impaction, bowel obstruction and rectal bleeding. Generally, though, constipation is not cause for serious concern, especially if not accompanied by an infection or digestive disorder. It can often be relieved by modifications to one's diet and lifestyle, without resorting to medication and treatment. Thus, here is a list of tips for preventing and remedying constipation to achieve healthy bowel movements.

Stay Hydrated

Hardened stool is common during constipation, so it is important to stay hydrated to keep things running smoothly. The more water you drink, the softer your stool will become. Men are recommended to drink around 10-12 glasses of water per day, while women should drink 8-9 glasses of water each day. Avoiding caffeinated beverages, such as sodas and coffees, and alcohol can also help to alleviate symptoms. These beverages are diuretics, and they result in fluid loss by increasing the passage of urine. A person suffering from constipation should drink water and herbal teas until their constipation subsides.


Increase Fiber Intake

As a natural laxative, fiber adds bulk to one's stool and speeds up the bowel movement process. Adding fiber to one's diet can really help to alleviate constipation discomfort. However, care should be taken when eating fiber as a sudden increase in fiber intake can have negative effects such as an increase in bloating and gas. Ideally, one should start consuming small fibrous meals in the morning and gradually increase their intake. A person needs at least 25 grams of dietary fiber per day, so try sprinkling barley flakes on stew to see if there is a marked difference in your digestive process.


Cut Down On Processed Foods

Processed foods can contribute to constipation, so try to eat foods that are made with whole grains. Most processed foods are high in fat and lack the nutrition you need to keep your digestive system running smoothly. Avoid foods that contain refined flour, junk food, processed meats such as bacon and sausage, and anything that comes in a can. Instead, try to stick to whole foods such as brown rice, fresh meat, and fresh fruits and vegetables.


Rely On The Benefits Of Prunes

Prunes are a common remedy used by many to cure constipation. High in fiber content, prunes are known for stimulating the colon. Because they contain sorbitol, a stool-loosening compound, you can expect them to relieve constipation naturally. If eating prunes sounds distasteful, drinking juice made from prunes can have a similar effect although the fiber content is lower. Eating prunes will often produce the desired effect rather quickly. It's best to increase prune consumption gradually to prevent diarrhea, a common side effect of over-indulgence.


Oil Up

When you are constipated, consumable oils such as sunflower, olive, or soy oil can increase lubrication within the intestines and help ease bowel movements through faster. Just add one tablespoon of olive oil to herbs, with a little bit of lemon juice. Add some red wine vinegar to the mixture and use it as a bread The use of olive oil has several known health benefits besides relieving gas and digestive troubles.


Exercise Regularly

Physical activities are not just meant for burning off those extra calories; they can also promote bowel regularity. If possible, a person suffering from constipation should try to walk every hour to increase blood flow and stimulate the bowels. Exercise is well-known to help keep the digestive tract running smoothly and it promotes better health all around. It is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week which can be achieved with just 30 minutes per day, five days per week.


Bulking Agents

There are several bulking agents which are known for their laxative effect and stool softening effects. A few better known bulking agents are flaxseeds and psyllium, which can be found as supplements in capsules and tablets. Other bulking agents can be purchased in powder form or in teas. Fenugreek is another common bulking agent known for its ability to ease digestive troubles. Make sure you use any bulking agents with plenty of water for quicker constipation relief.


Avoid Dairy Products

The lactose contained in dairy products can be a trigger for constipation and worsen existing symptoms. Lactose is also known for causing bloating and gas. If you are having stomach trouble, avoiding dairy foods, such as cheese and milk, could bring relief. Diary that contains probiotics is often an exception. Probiotics are bacteria found inside the colon that help promote digestion. Many studies have suggested that probiotics can be an effective home cure for constipation.


Eat Veggies

Fresh vegetables are another natural way to treat constipation issues. Many have an abundance of fiber and contain natural juices that increase hydration. People who don't like the flavor of vegetables can try adding them to soups and stews to get the benefits without the taste. There are also fruit juices on the market that contain vegetable servings.


Try Beans

Give a fibrous boost to your diet with a cup of beans to relieve constipation effectively. Although many people associate beans with bloating and gas, regular consumption will actually improve digestive health, effectively reducing the likelihood of constipation. Just a half cup serving of beans provides up to 9.5 grams fiber. Beans are quite versatile and can be used in salads, pastas, soups, and casseroles.


Take Magnesium

Magnesium can be quite effective in treating constipation as it helps move water through the bowel to flush feces out of the system. It's important to consult a physician before taking a magnesium supplement due to its interaction with blood pressure and diabetes medications. Broccoli and legumes are good, natural sources of magnesium. Taking over the counter magnesium citrate tablets or magnesium hydroxide will also improve magnesium levels.


Choose Berries For A Sweet Treat

Several types of berry, such as raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries, are natural and sweet remedies for constipation. Each of these berries have a high fiber content which makes them ideal for treating bowel troubles. A cup of strawberries provides around 4 grams of fiber, while raspberries provide 8 grams. Berries are quite low in calories and can be added to probiotic yogurt to pack a double punch.


Take Castor Oil

Castor oil (cascara) is extremely effective in relieving constipation. It is known for stimulating intestines and lubricating the bowels, and the effects happen relatively quickly. Castor oil is safe to consume, however it should be taken only after consulting a doctor. Patients of appendicitis and intestinal blockage can experience adverse effects so it is important to rule these conditions out.


Go Raw With Fruit

Raw fruits are known for their high fiber content, much of which is found in the skin, so eating fruits such as apples, pears, and plums can help ease constipation. A medium sized apple can provide 3.3 grams of fiber. Like vegetables, fruits also contain natural juices that will help with hydration. Fruit juice will have a lower fiber content but the additional water content can be helpful in easing constipation symptoms.


Eat Raisins

Raisins are not just high in fiber content but also tartaric acid. Tartaric acid can have a laxative effect when consumed in higher quantities but too much can result in diarrhea and gastrointestinal inflammation. Eating raisins everyday with, or after, meals can aid in digestion without causing severe side effects.

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