Though it seems like an everyday thing that people learn to live with, constipation can negatively affect a person’s quality of life. A recent study showed that the reduced quality of life caused by constipation was comparable to that triggered by serious chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis and diabetes. (You can easily reduce the risk of heart disease.)
Your doctor may tell you that if you go once a day, you are not constipated, but the truth is that if you have less than two to three bowel movements per day, you are constipated. What this means is that the toxins from your fecal matter are getting reabsorbed into your body every day. In addition to this autotoxication, constipation can also lead to other complications like anal fissures, hemorrhoids, and even rectal prolapse.
To avoid these painful complications, it makes sense to avoid constipation. It’s not too difficult, provided that you are willing to make a few lifestyle changes.
Get your bowels moving again
Laxatives are often the first choice to resolve constipation, but they only serve as a temporary fix rather than a more permanent solution to whatever is at the root of your constipation. There could be many causes, such as poor diet, stress, lack of sleep, insufficient exercise, or even bad bacteria in the gut.
Dietary solutions: When it comes to good stools, the most important element of your diet is fiber. So make sure you’re consuming a lot of fruits and vegetables and are drinking enough water. While choosing fiber-rich foods, look for the word “whole.” If the product is a good source of whole grains, you’ll get the fiber you need. Common sources of fiber include flaxseeds, prune fiber powder, citrus pectin, split peas, lentils, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
Foods that are rich in magnesium—black beans, halibut, pumpkin seeds, cooked spinach, okra, and peanuts—are also helpful for relieving constipation, as magnesium is known for its ability to stimulate bowel movements.
While the above foods are good at getting those bowels moving, there are also some foods that you should avoid. Topping this list is white bread, followed by nuts, cheese, chocolate, white rice, and bananas.
Exercise: Walking for 15–30 minutes daily can help stimulate intestinal activity. Or you can try any exercise you enjoy like swimming or playing a game of tennis or golf. But remember, exercise can drain you of your fluids, so make sure you rehydrate after your workout. (Get all day energy with no jitters, no crashes, and no stimulants.)
Sleep: Believe it or not, if you are constipated, fixing your sleeping schedule may help. Try going to bed by 11 p.m. to give your body ample time to produce enough of the sleep-promoting hormone that also encourages regularity. Shut off your lights, TV, and other screens as early as possible, and get a good night’s rest. To put it in a nutshell, go to sleep to “go.” (America is experiencing a sleep loss epidemic.)
Stress relief: Most people with constipation find that their symptoms are worse or more frequent during periods of increased stress. But while stress may aggravate symptoms, it doesn’t cause them. Having said that, it’s important to keep stress to a minimum to help manage your constipation.
Probiotics: Probiotic—or good bacteria—help keep the intestinal flora active. This helps the bowels move easily. Probiotics also offer your colon powerful protection against stress‐induced changes in your bowel movements.
Traditional Chinese therapy: Recent research proves that acupuncture combined with moxibustion, a traditional Chinese therapy that uses the mugwort herb, is more effective at curing constipation than ordinary medication. (Why the Chinese don’t get sick like we do.)
There are many other natural ways to get relief from constipation. The trick is to figure out what works best for you and stick to it diligently. Whatever you do, don’t let constipation make you a prisoner to your toilet. For starters, try the advice here to help get things moving again.