Battling Constipation Naturally

The occasional bout of constipation is normal. Perhaps you ate a little bit too much cheese or didn't rehydrate after your walk yesterday. Unless you have a chronic disease or known cause for the constipation, there are a few things you can do at home to find relief. 

Home remedies are not intended for anyone with a chronic medical condition. There are conditions that can impact your bowel motility and cause chronic constipation to include:

Likewise, using any kind of opioid narcotic for pain management can impact your bowel regularity. If you take pain medications and are battling constipation, talk to your doctor. He or she can recommend laxatives if you need relief. 

Bump Up the Fluids

As stool moves through the colon, it presents the final opportunity for your body to remove fluids from the gathering waste. If you are dehydrated, remaining moisture in the stool -- the moisture that would have assisted the stool in moving easily through your five feet of colon and into the rectum -- is withdrawn. You can drink juice or commercial preparations if you choose, but plain water works just as well to rehydrate the healthy adult. Although there is no scientific proof, I've had a number of patients inform that warmer liquids, such as warmed prune juice or tea, can help relieve the bowels faster than cool or room temperature liquids.


Add a Serving of Fruit

Fresh fruit contains soluble fibers and moisture that can help jump start your bowels. Unless you are diabetic and watching your sugar intake, adding a serving of fruit can help get your bowels going naturally. Fresh or dried fruit is best, as the commercially prepared canned fruits usually sit in a syrupy sauce that can tip the scales in the other direction and cause diarrhea.


Avoid Salty Foods

Processed, canned, or cured foods will increase your sodium intake and can further constipate you. You don't have to cut out all salt, it's a valuable mineral that your body needs. However, certain foods contain much more than you need everyday to include:

  • Cured meats such as bacon or ham
  • Canned vegetables and soups
  • Pickles and all pickled foods
  • Commercial vegetable juices
  • Cheese 

Add Some Chia or Flax

Although there is not definitive proof that these seeds can relieve constipation per say, they are an excellent source of fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. The seeds are not super fun to eat stand alone, so you can add the recommended serving size to a smoothie, sprinkle them on a salad, or incorporate them into your diet in some other innocuous way. The insoluble fibers found in these seeds help act as a broom to your colon lining to help push the waste out.

Get Moving

If your stomach is bloated and your belly is hurting from constipation, I understand that the last thing you want to do is get active.

However, your instincts to curl into a fetal position and nurse your sore tummy are counterproductive. The more sedentary you are, the more you risk ongoing constipation. If you are physically capable, try taking a brief walk or other mild physical activity to get your circulation going and your bowels moving. 

Avoid the Laxatives and Enemas

Unless you've spoken to your doctor, the normal, healthy adult should not need to use a laxative or enema to find constipation relief. Actually, chronic laxative and enema use can lead to constipation and an inability to move your bowels without assistance. Although in some circles enemas are actually gaining popularity, they should not be used without first consulting with your doctor to test for an underlying condition causing your constipation. 


Currier, J. (2012). The Real Scoop on Chia Seeds. American Society for Nutrition. Accessed online July 22, 2015.

National Institute on Aging. (n.d.). Concerned About Constipation? Accessed online July 22, 2015.

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