This article was previously published on January 23, 2019 and has been updated with new information.
It is estimated that up to 20% of the general population suffers from chronic constipation,1 Characterized by hard, dry, difficult bowel movements, and/or fewer than 3 bowel movements per week.Chronic constipation also accounts for at least 8 million doctor visits each year in the U.S.2
While temporary constipation can be the result of not eating well for a day or two, chronic constipation is associated with many other more serious health problems, including diverticulitis, kidney disease,3 colorectal and gastric cancer,4 ulcerative colitis5 and Parkinson’s disease.6
Therefore, regular bowel movements are not just a matter of comfort, it also has important health implications. Here are a few of my top tips for getting and staying regular.
1. Stay properly hydrated
Perhaps the most basic of all advice is to make sure you drink enough water every day. While using thirst as a guide for how much water you need is an obvious way to ensure your daily needs are met, it’s important to realize that when your thirst mechanism kicks in, you’re actually already in the early stages of dehydration.
So, don’t ignore the initial feeling of thirst. Hunger, especially sugar cravings, may also indicate that your body is craving water. Other common signs of dehydration include:7
fatigue and/or dizziness
Blurred thinking, difficulty concentrating
back or joint pain
Dull, dry skin and/or visible wrinkles
Infrequent urination; dark, concentrated urine
Using the color of your urine is one of the best ways to track your hydration status on a daily basis.8 Concentrated dark urine shows that your kidneys are retaining fluid to keep your body functioning and is a good indicator that you need more water.
Ideally, drink enough water to turn your urine a light yellow color. Be aware that vitamin B2-containing supplements can turn your urine a bright, almost fluorescent yellow, which makes it harder to tell your water needs by the color of your urine.
The frequency of urination can also be used to determine how much water you drink. A healthy person urinates seven to eight times a day on average. If you have very little urine, or if you haven’t urinated for several hours, it’s also a sign that you’re not drinking enough.
2. Eat more fiber
Eating a diet high in fiber is classic advice for maintaining regularity and reducing your risk of hemorrhoids. There are two main types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Ideally, you need to do both on a regular basis.
Digestive resistant starch – found in frozen, cooked potatoes,9 Seeds, tapioca starch and unripe tropical fruits such as bananas, papayas and mangoes – can be considered a third type of fiber, which differs from insoluble fibers in that many of their benefits come from the fermentation that occurs as they move through the large intestine Process. intestinal.10
Like insoluble fiber, digestible starch is not broken down as it passes through the digestive tract, thus adding bulk to the stool. They are also powerful prebiotics. By slowly fermenting in your large intestine, they provide nutrients for gut bacteria that support optimal health.
For example, the soluble fiber found in cucumbers, blueberries, beans, and nuts dissolves into a gel-like texture that slows digestion and helps nourish good bacteria. Insoluble fiber, found in dark green leafy vegetables, green beans, celery, and carrots, does not dissolve and remains largely intact as it passes through the colon.
By adding bulk to the stool, insoluble fiber helps move food through the digestive tract faster for healthy excretion. Sometimes called whole grains, insoluble fiber also helps cleanse the colon and remove food particles that can cause bloating, pain, and constipation if they stick to the colon wall.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends daily goals of 25 grams and 38 grams of fiber for women and men, respectively,11 The USDA recommends 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. I believe neither is sufficient for optimal health.
My recommendation for daily fiber intake is 25 to 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed. When adding more fiber to your diet, do it gradually, and be sure to drink plenty of water at the same time. Without enough water, fiber won’t be able to move smoothly through your system and may actually worsen constipation.
3. Eat these four foods regularly
While whole foods can help optimize your gut health overall, many different kinds of leafy greens, root vegetables, fruits, berries, seeds12 and mushrooms13 Provides healthy fiber, and some foods prevent and treat constipation better than others. The four main contenders that have shown a beneficial effect on chronic constipation are:
• Fermented vegetables – I highly recommend adding fermented foods to help your gut “repopulate” with good bacteria, helping you restore and maintain bowel regularity. The video above includes a short demo showing how to make your own fermented foods at home.
• Organic non-pasteurized kefir — In a 2014 study,14 Patients with functional constipation who took 500 ml of probiotic kefir daily for 4 weeks experienced significant improvement in symptoms, increased stool frequency and consistency, and reduced exertion and the need for laxatives. According to the authors, the results “suggest that kefir improves gut satisfaction and accelerates colonic transit.”
• artichoke – Ultra-long-chain inulin derived from artichokes has been shown to improve the gut microbiome by having prebiotic effects.15 In another study,16 Supplementation with 15 grams of chicory inulin per day improves constipation and quality of life in older adults with constipation.
• Kiwi – According to a 2013 study,17 “Clinical studies in a range of adult populations have consistently shown that kiwifruit is a very effective laxative-promoting dietary option. This, coupled with new evidence for a putative role of kiwifruit in promoting gastric emptying…suggests that kiwifruit is a Physiologically active throughout the gastrointestinal tract.”
4. If you’re constipated, try these five supplements
Certain supplements can also help improve your regularity, whether you have constipation or diarrhea. Among them:
• organic psyllium18 — Taking organic psyllium 3 times a day can add up to 18 grams of fiber (soluble and insoluble) to your diet. Ideally, you’ll need about 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed, so you’ll want to use plantain in addition to a vegetable-rich diet.
a report19 A study funded by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Foundation found that daily intake of psyllium dietary fiber in U.S. adults over the age of 55 with heart disease could reduce coronary heart disease by reducing coronary heart disease by nearly $4.4 billion in annual healthcare-related reductions Medical events decreased by 11.5%.
Keep in mind that psyllium is a heavily sprayed crop, which means many sources are contaminated with pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. For this reason, only use organic unsweetened psyllium husks.
• magnesium– One of the most popular short-term natural supplements that are effective for constipation is magnesium.20 It both softens stool (by drawing water into your intestines) and relaxes your muscles, making it easier to eliminate stool and reduce stress.
Start with 200 mg of oral magnesium citrate daily and gradually increase the amount until stool consistency improves. (Magnesium comes in a variety of forms, including chelate, threonate, citrate, and sulfate. Citrate is the form that has the greatest impact on the gut and helps produce loose stools.)
• Pancreatin — In a small pilot study,twenty one The pancreatic enzyme lipase was found to improve stool consistency and reduce bloating, cramping, and urgency in people with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
• Probiotics– Systematic reviews and meta-analysestwenty two Published in 2014, it concluded that probiotics help improve “total intestinal transit time, stool frequency, and stool consistency” in patients with functional constipation. B. lactis was found to be particularly helpful in this regard.
• Spores — Spore-based probiotics are part of a group of derivatives of microorganisms called Bacillus. Sporebiotics don’t contain any live strains of Bacillus, just its spores – the protective shell around the DNA and how that DNA works – which makes them especially beneficial when you have to take antibiotics because the spores are not affected by these drugs.
In a recent study,twenty three Healthy people who otherwise struggled with loose stools experienced significant improvement after taking Bacillus subtilis C-3102 daily for 8 weeks. Stool consistency is “near normal” after the first 4 weeks.
5. Squat Enhancement Elimination
Sitting on the toilet may be comfortable, but placing your knees and thighs at 90 degrees to your belly can actually pinch the anal canal, making it more difficult to have a bowel movement.
On the other hand, when you squat, your knees move closer to your belly, which changes the relationship of your rectum to your sphincter, allowing your organs and muscles to orient in a way that relaxes your rectum. This maximizes your evacuation efficiency.
When you are in a squat position, the muscles around the rectum and pubis can relax, which promotes complete emptying of the rectum and cecum without straining. It also reduces the likelihood of stool stagnation in the lower gut and subsequent accumulation of toxins that affect the growth of the gut microbiome.
Squatting without support can be challenging if you’re not used to it, but using an inexpensive footrest can help you achieve proper body position while maintaining stability.
In one study,twenty four,25 As discussed in the short video above, 71% of patients who use a toilet foot stool report that they have a faster bowel movement and 90% less strain. After the study was completed, two-thirds of the participants said they would continue to use the footrest.
6. Consider installing a bidet
Last but not least, consider installing a bidet in your bathroom. While many Americans are skeptical of bidets at first, once you’ve tried it, you’ll probably never want to go without it. For those unfamiliar with how it works, a bidet looks similar to a toilet, but it’s designed to help you freshen up after using the toilet.
Most modern bidets have one or more nozzles that spray water, allowing you to straddle the device for cleaning, far superior to toilet paper. Today, there are also easy-to-use bidets that you can put over a regular toilet, as well as bidets that are a combination toilet and bidet (with a wand under the toilet that sprays water).
Buy a simple bidet attachment for just $50.26 Aside from improving your health and hygiene, which is invaluable, this attachment pays for itself in a year or less on toilet paper.
As bidet.org points out,27 “If you’re constipated, the water in the bidet can relax and stimulate your sphincter muscles, making it easier to have a bowel movement without straining and straining. This can prevent hemorrhoids, anal fissures and even rectal prolapse.”
Many of these problems are quite painful. You can minimize the risk of infection and avoid the pain of wiping with toilet paper by thoroughly cleaning the area with warm water, then patting dry with a clean towel. A bidet can also reduce pain and discomfort associated with anal fistula, anal itching, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and IBS.