Do you pass a stool motion less than once a day? More like once every 2nd, 3rd or more days?
Do you find it difficult and/or uncomfortable to pass a stool motion?
Do you feel like you just can’t get everything out whenever you go?
Do you regularly feel bloated?
Do you regularly suffer from abdominal pain or discomfort?
If you’re saying yes to most of these, then there’s a good chance you may be suffering from constipation. Although constipation can be a direct result or symptom of conditions such as hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, specific spinal injuries, SIBO, Parkinson's disease, or opioid drug use for example. Constipation can also be a symptom of a low fiber diet or not consuming enough liquids. Fortunately, no matter what is causing your constipation, there are many things we can do to support bowel regularity. It is important to empty your bowels regularly because it reduces your risk of bowel disorders and diseases and keeps your gut happier. Which if you didn’t already know, relates to nearly every other organ and system in your body! A great example of this is suffering from skin disorders whilst being constipated and then skin improving when bowel regularity is increased (NOTE: many other factors involved, this is just a basic and simplified example!).
Now before we get into things you can do from home to reduce constipation, let me reiterate - it is important to work with a qualified professional particularly if this is something that:
a) has happened very suddenly,
b) is worsening quickly,
c) is severe or impacting your quality of life significantly or
d) you’ve been suffering for a very long time
As there may be things that need to be ruled out and further investigations may be requested to uncover the why and the how.
But, if you do want to try some things from home because you know you could improve your stool - Here are 6 generalized tips:
1. Utilise herbal teas. Herbal teas can be highly therapeutic and can be used in various ways to support bowel motions. Try having a shot of dandelion root tea 20 mins before a meal to support digestive enzyme secretion or regularly consuming some peppermint or chamomile tea to support bowel motions.
2. Increase dietary fiber. Dietary fiber softens your stool and increases its weight and size of it, making it easier to pass (NOTE: sometimes with specific gut disorders, this can make symptoms worse, thus it is best to work with a qualified professional and ensure your water intake is increased also).
3. Increase dietary bitters. Dietary bitters may increase digestive enzyme secretion and support digestion, which will support bowel movements. This may look like eating rocket, parsley, horseradish, or bitter melon regularly or having Dandelion root or Gentian tea before meals.
4. Reduce stress. Sometimes constipation can result from a hypertonic state where there is significant intestine muscular tone (think of this as stress holding on) and stool is unable to move freely. Try to implement stress management strategies that work for you.
5. Increase liquids. It is important to ensure you are hitting >1.5L of water per day. And remember that herbal teas count as liquid intake as well. Set reminders on your phone to drink water or flavour it with herbal tea or fruits to make it more enticing.
6. Get physical! Engaging in regular physical activity helps to tone the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm which play key roles in supporting the defecation process.
I hope these basic tips help you become more regular! But as always, if you’re unsure why you may be constipated or it’s too complex to tackle yourself, send me a message or book in for a consult here.