Constipation is the most common digestive problem that affects millions of people around the globe, irrespective of their ages. It is a rather unpleasant condition characterized by the inability to eliminate wastes from the body regularly. Constipation is usually caused by the absorption of excess water by the colon or by the slow contraction of the colon muscles, which causes the stool to move very slowly and lose more water. Certain drugs, pregnancy, aging, intake of diet containing less fiber content, not drinking enough water and irritable bowel syndrome are few of the factors that can lead to constipation. Chronic constipation may cause discomfort and many other symptoms like headache, loss of appetite, acidity, bad breath and even depression.
How can you treat constipation naturally?
Most people suffering from constipation resort to the use of drugs and laxatives to get relief from the condition. However, there are several easy home remedies that can help improve the functioning of the digestive system and thus help with constipation. Most of these remedies are easily available and may even be found in your kitchen pantry itself. Here are some natural remedies that you can try at home to get rid of constipation as well as to prevent its occurrence:
Eat fiber rich foods
The regular consumption of fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grain bread, nuts and seeds can help get your bowels moving. While soluble fiber helps with digestion and promotes the absorption of nutrients from the food, insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool, helping it to pass more easily and quickly through the intestine. Various studies indicate that people who eat a healthy diet, high in fiber content are less likely to suffer from constipation. Fiber is also available in the form of pills and powder. However, if you choose to take fiber supplements, make sure to drink plenty of water to keep your digestive system running smoothly.
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Drink plenty of water
One of the most common reasons that cause constipation is dehydration. When there is not enough water in the body, the large intestine absorbs water from the food wastes, thus causing the stools to become hard and difficult to pass through the intestine. Drinking adequate amount of water makes the stool soft and easy to pass.
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Olive oil helps proper functioning of digestive system
Olive oil is a healthy oil that can be used not only for cooking but also for alleviating the symptoms of constipation. It provides lubrication and stimulates the proper functioning of the digestive system and eases the discomfort of constipation by helping to get the wastes moving through your colon easily. It stimulates the gallbladder to release more bile, which in turn helps in digesting the fats in your digestive tract. When taken regularly, olive oil can help prevent constipation as well. Moreover, the nutrients in this oil enhance the overall health of your digestive tract. Since olive oil is a natural product, you can use it long term without worrying about any kind of side effects. To get relief from constipation, just take a tablespoon of olive oil on an empty stomach everyday.
Blackstrap molasses as natural laxative
Blackstrap molasses is one of the best natural laxatives that can help regularize your bowel movements. This dark and thick syrup extracted from cane sugar is also helpful in eliminating various other digestive problems like indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome and stomach pain. The various nutrients like manganese, magnesium and calcium found in molasses along with its mild laxative property is highly beneficial in preventing constipation. To get relief from constipation, mix one to two teaspoons of molasses in warm water and drink it. Blackstrap molasses has a strong taste and is also high in calories. Therefore, make sure to use it only occasionally for treating constipation.
Lemon juice as detox agent
Lemon juice is a great source of vitamin C that stimulates the functioning of the digestive system and helps flush out the toxins and wastes from the body. Adding water to the juice and drinking it helps soften the stools and also aids in the easier removal of stool by acting as a natural lubricant. Take the juice of half a lemon in a glass of warm water and add a pinch of salt to it. Mix well and drink this solution in the morning daily. This drink cleanses the intestine and also relieves constipation by ensuring the quick and smooth passage of the stools.
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Raisins as age old remedy for treating constipation
Eating raisins is an age old remedy for treating constipation. Raisins are dried grapes that not only have a mild laxative effect but is also rich in fiber and nutrients. The laxative property of this dry fruit helps loosen up the stool and allows it to move easily through the intestine. The fiber in raisins also adds bulk to the stool and makes them soft. This helps in the easier removal of wastes from the system and thus gives relief from constipation. Raisins also contain antioxidant components like catechins and tannins that cleanse the digestive system and helps remove toxic impurities and wastes from the body. They also help maintain the right balance of good and bad bacteria in the stomach, which in turn helps in improving digestion and absorption of essential nutrients by the body as well as promoting regular bowel movements. You can eat raisins as a snack or soak them overnight and eat them the next morning.
Probiotics for healthy gut
A healthy gut flora plays a key role in ensuring the proper functioning of the digestive system. Therefore increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut may be helpful in preventing constipation. Yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics and so one way to make the healthy bacteria abundant in your stomach is to consume a cup of yogurt every day. According to studies, probiotics were found to inhibit the gut transit time by 12.4 hours, soften stools and increase the number of bowel movements every week.
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Castor oil as natural laxative
Castor oil is another traditional remedy used to get relief from constipation. Castor oil, when ingested is converted into ricinoleic acid in the small intestine. This compound stimulates peristalsis, the movement of the intestines, which help to move the stool through the intestines and hence out of the system, thus preventing constipation. To use castor oil as a remedy for constipation, mix a teaspoon of the oil in a glass of milk and drink it before going to bed.
Aloe vera as effective constipation remedy
Best known for its benefits to the skin, aloe vera is also an effective constipation remedy. Available in the form of capsule, gel and juice, aloe vera can soothe the digestive system and act as a powerful laxative too. The fluid from the leaves improves digestion and makes the stools softer. Drinking a cup of aloe vera juice daily is highly beneficial in getting relief from constipation.
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Flaxseed for digestive tract
Flaxseed is another wonderful remedy that has been used for ages to treat constipation. The seeds are rich in a gum like substance known as mucilage and so when consumed, the mucilage forms a protective coating over the digestive tract and provides a soothing effect. It also provides both softness and bulk to the stool, helping to relieve constipation and other digestive disorders. According to studies, the ingestion of flaxseed increases bowel movements and significantly reduces constipation. Drinking orange juice mixed with flaxseed oil is a very effective remedy for constipation. The fiber in the fruit along with the soothing effects of flaxseed oil produces amazing benefits to your digestive system.
Dandelion for digestive problems
Dandelion has a history of being used as a remedy for various digestive problems including constipation. Dandelion root, with its high nutritional content is a mild laxative and also a diuretic. It also promotes a healthy balance of gut flora in the digestive tract. Dandelion tea can be prepared by boiling dandelion roots in water for about 10 minutes. Drinking 2 or 3 cups of this tea every day is very beneficial in curing as well as preventing constipation.
Prunes as laxative
Yet another proven remedy for constipation are prunes. High in fiber content, prunes act as a natural laxative, helping to relieve constipation. The insoluble fiber bulks up the stool, makes it soft and easy to pass through the intestine. The fruit also contains sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that shows laxative effects by drawing water into the intestines and stimulating bowel movements. Research indicates that eating prunes or drinking prune juice can be more effective when compared to other methods used for relieving constipation. It improves the consistency of stools and helps make your bowel movements regular. Prunes also contain nutrients that activate certain enzymes in the digestive system, which helps make the stool soft and easier to pass through the intestines.
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Having one to three bowel movements a day or at least three times a week is considered to be normal. However, less than three bowel movements a week may indicate constipation. This condition is luckily, something that can be cured effectively with the help of simple and natural home remedies. So instead of going for chemical laxatives that may produce negative effects on your stomach, it is always better to resort to natural solutions that are easy, inexpensive and safe.Image Credits: Flickr - Vanessa Bazzano