Having trouble going to the loo? Being affected by the discomfort and pain of a bloated stomach is something many have experienced before, and when it happens, all we want is a quick fix to relieve that stuffy feeling.
Popping an over-the-counter laxative is usually effective, but reaching for medications too often can also have adverse side effects on the body. All too often, nature has the right solution for your non-serious episodes of constipation.
Everyone has their own ways of dealing with the occasional bout of constipation, but if you haven’t found one that works for you, here are some things you can try:
- Eat more fibre: Most people don’t get enough fibre in their diet, which is a big contributor to constipation. Fibre increases the bulk of stools and makes them easier to pass; hence, adding more whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and oats to your diet could promote easier bowel movement. However, fibre might not work if the cause of constipation is not due to low fibre intake, or may worsen symptoms in people with IBS.
- Get moving: Being too sedentary can cause constipation, which is why getting some exercise can aid in stimulating bowel movements. Try out mild to moderate exercise like brisk walking, swimming, or stretching. For some people, too-vigorous exercises may cause symptoms to worsen instead.
- Drink up: One extremely common cause of acute constipation is dehydration. Drinking more fluids has a lubricating effect on the bowels, and softens stools, making them easier to pass. Some reports find that drinking carbonated water may have a better effect, but sugary drinks should be avoided in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as these may worsen constipation or irritate the bowels instead.
- Eat probiotic foods: Certain cases of constipation are caused by an imbalance of gut bacteria. Probiotic foods recalibrate the balance of bacteria in the gut, facilitating the prevention and relief of chronic constipation. Some healthy and yummy sources of probiotics are yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, pickles, kimchi, and sourdough bread.
- Have a cuppa: Your favourite morning pick-me-up could be the answer to your constipation woes. Caffeine stimulates the gut muscles, which helps in relieving constipation. However, people with IBS or sensitivity to caffeine might want to give this a miss, as this could exacerbate their gut symptoms instead.
As seen, not everyone reacts the same way to these remedies, as some may even make your constipation symptoms worse! The key is to find out what works for your body. If possible, discovering the cause of your constipation can help you chart out the best course of action to relieve constipation.
If you are unsure of what’s causing your constipation, or are suffering from persistent constipation, it is advisable to seek a doctor’s opinion. In some cases, constipation may be a symptom of a more serious underlying issue. A gastroenterologist can perform examinations to diagnose the problem and recommend you suitable treatments.