If you’ve been having a little trouble with your, uh-hum, business these days, you’re not alone. Disrupted routines, dietary changes, age, and stress can all lead to roadblocks in your gut.
Constipation is uncomfortable. It’s confusing and more common than you’d think. It affects more than a quarter of women and 14% of men 65 and older. That goes up to 34% of women and 26% of men 84 and up.
Now, you’ve probably heard that increasing fiber intake and staying hydrated plays a huge role in relieving constipation. Soluble and insoluble fiber help speed up digestion so you can unload as quickly and painlessly as possible. Exercise and activity also help.
But if you’re already doing those things, how can you relieve the symptoms of constipation? Do you know what the symptoms even are? Constipation can certainly cause confusion.
It can take on a few different looks. It doesn’t necessarily mean a complete stoppage of bowel movements (BM). Other forms it can take include:
- Straining to pass stool
- Hard, pellet-like bowel movements
- Having a bowel movement 3x or less per week
- Feeling like you didn’t empty your bowel after a bowel movement
- Feeling a blockage
- Feeling bloated
If your diet and daily routine has shifted due to the pandemic, it could be throwing off your bathroom routine. So can stress. If you’re getting fiber and exercise, here are a few other things you can try to stimulate your bowels.
Start your day with a cup of coffee: A cup of coffee in the morning can stimulate a bowel movement in a couple of ways. The first is caffeine. Caffeine is a known laxative that causes stomach and colon contractions to promote motility. That could be all you need.
Aside from caffeine, coffee also features compounds that may boost hormones linked with colon activity.
Stress relief: Your mental state can also play a role in relieving constipation. If you are being bogged down by stress, look into various forms of meditation, mindfulness, and other relaxing activities.
Boost magnesium intake: Magnesium can act as a laxative too. Talk to your doctor about supplementation, or try eating more magnesium-rich foods. Some good options include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Cooked spinach
Flax seeds: Sprinkling flax seeds on salads, cereal, oats, or yogurt may also help improve poop quality and frequency.
Along with trying to get back to a regular schedule, these measures may help relieve constipation. Remember to boost fiber intake and be patient: sometimes it can take a little while to get back on track.
Contact your doctor if your efforts are unsuccessful. Your constipation could be caused by a more severe issue.