Constipation sucks. It’s so frustrating, you feel absolutely miserable, and it puts you in a crappy mood (pun intended). When people ask you what’s wrong, it’s very unlikely you’re going to respond, “I’m constipated.” So, instead, you put on a smile and act like everything is okay, when in fact, all you can think about is finding relief.
Well, you’re not alone in your discomfort. 42 million people in the US alone complain of constipation. It’s no wonder we’re a constipated nation with our chronic stress and inflammatory diet. There are also people out there who are constipated and don’t even realize it.
If you have healthy bowels, then you should be eliminating waste 1-3 times per day, and your stool should be a 4 or 5 on the Bristol Stool Chart. If you are eliminating less than once per day, then you are constipated. If you have to strain and spend 30 minutes on the toilet, then you are constipated.
While many people just try to fix it themselves and resort to over-the-counter laxatives and enemas, these remedies are not safe long-term.
Below are a few natural remedies that can help improve your elimination and help you start feeling better.
Magnesium is a fantastic supplement for many reasons. Its calming properties help with stress and anxiety. Additionally, if you take too much magnesium the side effect is lose stools. So, magnesium can help you poop! Magnesium is a safe supplement and most of us are deficient in this wonderful mineral anyway. The forms I like best are Magnesium Citrate and Magnesium Glycinate. See below for dosing.
Magnesium Citrate: 300-800mg
Magnesium Glycinate: 400-1200mg
Constipation has been linked to low stomach acid. Your body needs adequate stomach acid to break down food, particularly protein. It is also needed to absorb many vitamins and minerals. Stomach acid is also necessary to kill bacteria and other bugs that enter the body as well as prevent bacteria in the intestines from migrating into the stomach.
If you also experience bloating after meals, reflux, heartburn, burping, gas, or nausea, then you may have low stomach acid, and supplementing with Betaine HCL can help with this. Read my article here to learn more about Betaine HCL and how to take it. The 2 brands I like the most are Thorne and Now Foods HCL.
Inoculating your gut with good bacteria can be very helpful in reducing constipation. Probiotics are anti-inflammatory and help strengthen the immune system. They help normalize and maintain healthy gastrointestinal flora, which can reduce uncomfortable GI symptoms.
If you’re constipated, there’s a good chance your body is not digesting and absorbing your food properly. Digestive enzymes are necessary to break down all components of your food and assimilate them. Taking digestive enzymes with your meals can greatly improve your digestion.
Typically, I don’t recommend fiber for constipation because it usually makes symptoms worse. However, this is the one fiber that I’ve found to be beneficial. There are 2 types of fiber- soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber, such as psyllium or hemp can make constipation much worse because it adds bulk to the stool. If used long-term, you can develop serious digestive problems.
The fiber in Heather’s Tummy Fiber is a very high-quality acacia senegal fiber, which is a soluble fiber. Soluble fiber works by regulating water content in the bowel to relieve cramping and prevent both diarrhea and constipation. Additionally, Heather’s Tummy Fiber is low-FODMAP, so it ferments very slowly to prevent bloating and gas. It is also a prebiotic, which supports the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
Walking is an enjoyable and very inexpensive way to relieve constipation and other digestive discomforts. I’m not talking about a high-intensity power walk. I’m referring to a nice, relaxing, leisurely walk in which your only objective is the walk itself.
This activity helps support your enteric nervous system (ENS), also known as your “second brain”. Your ENS resides in your gut and is a system of nerves between your esophagus and rectum.
The ENS regulates all facets of digestion, so when your ENS is happy, you are happy. Your digestion works as it should. Walking helps by calming and soothing your ENS, which helps your digestion function better.
While you can try these remedies now, it is so important that you find out what is causing your constipation. Constipation is highly linked to gut infections such as SIBO. Also, there could be an imbalance in your hormones that could be contributing to your constipation.
Chronic constipation is related to skin issues, depression, anxiety, and low energy. If you let it go on long enough, it can also lead to more serious conditions, such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and megacolon.
Finding the root cause of your digestive problems, tweaking your diet, and supplementing correctly can put you on the path to healing.