If there’s one thing that can turn a good day into one that isn’t so pleasant, constipation is it. Many people take their morning bathroom break for granted, not realizing how important it is to stay regular.
The minute you start to feel backed up, you would probably do just about anything to find some relief.
Constipation can occur for a wide variety of different reasons, so pinpointing the cause is often the best place to start to figure out the solution. If you just try and treat your constipation symptoms, you may find relief…for now. But what you really need is to ensure that it doesn’t happen again so you don’t find yourself in similar discomfort.
By investigating to find out the root cause, you can take action to remedy the problem.
Let’s look at 9 different causes of constipation and some of the best natural solutions you can pursue to manage them.
Cause #1: Antacid Medications
If you are someone who tends to pop a Tums after every meal, this could actually be a contributing factor to your issues with constipation. Antacid medications or other medications that are high in calcium can lead to this problem, so they could be your root cause.
Solution #1: Home Remedies
While you shouldn’t just stop medication cold turkey, if you are getting constipation due to antacids, you may want to consider some of the more natural means of combating heartburn instead.
This can include taking in a spoonful of baking soda to help neutralize the stomach acid, drinking aloe juice, chewing peppermint gum, or eating a banana, which can help to provide a buffer against acid reflux.
Try a few different natural home remedies and see which one works for you. It may greatly reduce your need to rely on antacids, thus lowering your incidence of constipation.
If you are just using antacids as a calcium supplement, reconsider this. There are far better ways to get calcium into your day such as ensuring you are eating plenty of fresh green vegetables and adding some probiotic rich yogurt to your menu.
Cause #2: Over Consumption Of Diary Products
Speaking of dairy products, this can also be a leading cause of constipation for some people as well. If you find that your bowel movements go amiss whenever you include too much dairy in your diet plan, this could be the cause.
But, must you sacrifice all dairy in order to find relief?
Solution #2: High Quality Digestive Enzymes
If you are suffering from lactose intolerance (hence why dairy gives you constipation), consider a high quality digestive enzyme such as Masszymes. This product will help provide your body with the natural enzymes that are used to break down dairy sugars, thus avoiding the unwanted symptoms associated with their consumption.
Usually those who experience lactose intolerance also notice they have other symptoms as well including gas, digestive upset, and they may feel very lethargic.
If this is all going on while you also have constipation, Masszymes is very likely to help.
Cause #3: IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome is another of the root causes of constipation that cannot go overlooked. Chances are, if you have this condition, you’ll know it however.
According to Medscape, there is a high prevalence of people in the US currently suffering from IBS. With rates as high as 14.1% in adults with only 3.3% of those cases being actually diagnosed, many people are suffering and aren’t talking about it.
If you feel like you may have IBS, it’s not something to be ashamed of. Getting proper help can give you great relief and help you to go on leading a life that you can enjoy.
It should be noted as well that it appears the prevalence of IBS is much greater in the female population than in the male population, so women should pay particular attention to whether this may be impacting them.
Many of those who suffer from IBS also suffer from other gastrointestinal related conditions with as many as 24% suffering from GERD as well.
Solution #3: High Quality Probiotics
If IBS is a concern for you, you might want to consider using a good probiotic to help manage it. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition noted that when subjects were given probiotics to help their condition, many reported that the pain and flatulence associated with it were significantly improved upon.
Another study also noted that when probiotics were given to those suffering from chronic idiopathic constipation, the total number of stools produced by these patients increased by 1.49 per week.
As probiotics have many other great health benefits, it’s one natural method you don’t want to be overlooking.
A quality product such as P3-OM probiotics will help you quickly replenish your gut flora environment and help you achieve greater success.
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Cause #4: Lack Of Physical Activity
Need yet another reason to get moving? How about the fact that regular physical activity can help you combat constipation? Those who aren’t taking part in regular exercise are far more likely to become backed up as food tends to sit in their digestive tract longer and have less movement to the bowels.
This is one reason why going for a walk after a large dinner always makes you feel better. The light movement will help to enhance digestion and the passage of food through the stomach, which will then eventually get to your bowels as well.
Solution #4: Start Moving….
The best solution for this cause is easy – add more activity into your day. Note that we aren’t talking about doing an ultra-intense exercise session after you’ve just eaten a large meal.
Do that and you’ll be in for serious cramping and pain. Instead, you want to incorporate light physical activity into your day after eating when you are feeling backed up.
And on top of that, make sure that you are getting 20-30 minutes of more intense physical activity in most days of the week.
This is a good level that everyone should be striving for to not only keep their digestive system in top working order, but also ensure that they are staying physically fit as well.
Whether you choose to do sprint cardio training, resistance training, or some other form of exercise, focus on choosing an activity that you enjoy and will do regularly.
Cause #5: Too Little Dietary Fiber
If you’ve been doing any reading at all on what you should be doing to eat healthier and optimize your health, chances are you know eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is a must in your program plan.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals that are necessary for great health and are relatively low in calories. As well as great for keeping your energy intake and body weight in check.
On top of that, they’re also very high in dietary fiber, which is necessary to assist with the formation of bowel movements.
If the only time you see a vegetable is when you stop in for some french fries at your local fast food place, you definitely need to work on bringing your intake up.
Most people are not getting in their 8-10 servings a day of these fresh foods and it’s showing. Not only are they constipated, but this is also a leading cause of weight gain.
If you would replace some of the processed foods you are eating with fresh fruits and vegetables instead, you’d naturally see a calorie decrease that would then lead to a healthier overall body weight.
Solution #5: Eat More Fruits & Vegetables
The best solution here is to get that fresh produce into your day. Find ways to sneak fruits and vegetables into your diet if you have to – it doesn’t have to be all that challenging as long as you have a plan on how to do so.
Start each meal off with a light salad for instance. Add some diced avocado and apples to your salad to liven it up and make it more palatable.
You might also consider topping your morning bowl of oatmeal with some berries as well to help boost your fiber intake.
When it comes time to choose your dinner, opt for a stir-fry rather than another vegetable-free dish. Stir-fry’s make for a fast and easy way to get at least 2-3 servings of fresh vegetables in.
Research published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology noted that when subjects who were suffering from constipation were given dietary fiber as a solution, 85% of patients noticed improvement or became symptom free within 6 weeks. So it won’t take long after improving your diet to notice a difference.
Just one note: avoid juices if you want to relieve constipation. Some people will choose juiced fruits and vegetables thinking this is a great way to get their servings in and while it can be an option for taking in the nutrients you need, it’s going to cause you to miss out on the fiber that these foods provide.
When you juice the fruits or vegetables, the fiber is being removed and as such, you aren’t reaping the benefits you should. Since getting more fiber is the goal here, this is not an effective strategy.
Cause #6: Pregnancy
This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the pregnancy however and unless you haven’t had a bowel movement for days there is no reason to contact your doctor.
This said, that doesn’t change the fact that it can be quite uncomfortable at times. If you are not able to go to the bathroom and you already feel a bit bloated due to the baby being inside you, it’s definitely a remedy for an uncomfortable situation.
Solution #6: Watch What You Eat
Many women who are pregnant tend to ‘eat for two’ and start indulging in all the high calorie foods they normally wouldn’t eat. This sadly leaves the high fiber foods – fruits, vegetables, and whole grains by the wayside.
If you tend to feast more on ice cream, burgers, and pizza now that you’re pregnant rather than fresh salads and fruit, it might be time to change your diet around.
Not only is eating processed and high fat/calorie foods unhealthy for the baby, it’s not going to do anything to help your constipation issue either.
Plus, remember that all the extra weight you gain (over and beyond what you need for the baby) is going to have to eventually be lost by you if you want to maintain your pre-pregnancy weight again, so it’s a wise idea to keep your weight in check.
Focus on eating at least 3-4 servings of fresh fruit each day along with 5-6 servings of vegetables while pregnant. This should be a daily goal for you – not just something you do some days of the week.
Along with that, also make sure that you are drinking enough water. Some women do find their thirst is down when pregnant, especially when they do tend to feel more bloated and water is the last thing they want to put into their system, but make a conscious effort to sip water throughout the day.
This will help you get your hydration needs met and help ease the constipation you may feel.
Pregnant women should not take any medicine or over the counter drugs for constipation unless it has been approved by your treating physician.
Cause #7: Dehydration
Speaking of water, this brings us to the next common cause of constipation: dehydration. Too many people are not getting the fluids they need during the day. They begin their day with coffee, which only has a diuretic effect thanks to the caffeine content found in it and then often proceed to consume regular soda or diet soda during the day. This also may contain caffeine and will only lead to the dehydration effects.
From there, they may finish their day off with some alcohol, further causing water loss from their body and go to bed without a glass of water passing their lips.
This needs to change. The absolute best liquid to put into your body is water and you need to be getting 8-10 glasses a day of the clear stuff.
How do you know if you’re drinking enough? If the color of your urine is a pale yellow color, you’re right on the mark. If it’s bright, you have work to do.
Without sufficient water in the intestines, the stools produced by the body tend to harden up, making it much harder to pass. When you are getting enough water, this softens the stools, which allows it a smooth passage way out of the body. Research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition has noted that fluid restriction of any kind will directly increase the chances of developing constipation.
Solution #7: Drink More Water
Can’t stand the thought of drinking more than a couple glasses of water during the day? Not to worry. There are easy ways to get it in. First, consider adding a slice of lemon or lime to your glass of water. This is a fast and easy way to add flavor without adding any calories.
If that won’t do the trick, remember that herbal teas can also count as water provided you aren’t adding any extra sugar or cream.
If you are going to drink coffee, make it a decaf. Again, if you aren’t adding sugar or cream, this will also count towards your daily fluid intake.
Finally keep in mind that you’ll also get your hydration needs met whenever you are eating foods that contain a high water content such as fruits, vegetables, and broth based soups. Try filling up on these a little more often and it can help make the fluid a bit easier to get down.
Cause #8: Insufficient Probiotic Intake
Probiotics are a must to think about if you are suffering from constipation. Most people do not have an optimal gut flora environment right now, especially if they have done a course of antibiotic at any point in the recent past.
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that reside in the gut and help strengthen your immune system while keeping your digestive system on track.
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You can find probiotics naturally in some food sources such as miso soup, sauerkraut, kombucha, and probiotic rich yogurt, but these are all things that the average person is not consuming daily.
Thus, their probiotic intake goes overlooked.
Without sufficient probiotic intake, your chances of gas, bloating, constipation and also diarrhea goes up, as does your risk for falling ill as probiotics do have such a strong impact on the strength of your immune system.
Solution #8: Get More Good Bacteria
For best results, consider supplementing with a high quality probiotic supplement such as P3-OM. This particular product will help your probiotic numbers multiply very rapidly in the gut, ensuring you get up to optimal levels as quickly as possible.
No other product on the market has this potency of live bacteria cultures present, so if you want to really step up your gut-health game, it’s the one to turn to.
You can also focus on eating more probiotic rich foods as well, but having the supplement there is also a good idea for back-up.
Cause #9: Stress
Finally, the last cause of constipation that impacts almost all of us at some point or another is stress. If you are heavily stressed out, this can cause your digestive system to slow, meaning stools are not produced as readily or properly and as a result, ‘sit’ in your intestines longer than they should.
When you are under a great deal of stress, whether physical stress or psychological stress, all the systems in your body are impacted, including your digestive system. You may also notice that your stomach feels like it’s in knots and may also get an upset stomach any time you try and eat.
These are all unwanted side effects that stress can have on you.
Solution #9: Tune Into Your Body
To help combat this problem, don’t turn to drugs or over the counter medicines. Until you get to the bottom of your stress, you are going to continue to experience this problem over and over again.
Stress needs to be dealt with head on as research published in the Koreascience journal has reported that is a direct correlation between the two. Managing stress involves two steps:
1. Identify the source of your stress and see if there isn’t something you can do to remedy it. If you can remove the stressor from your life entirely, that is the best case scenario.
2. Learn proper stress management techniques such as deep breathing, journaling or meditation to deal with stress when it’s actually occurring.
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If you can take this two-pronged approach, you’ll be better able to tolerate stress in your life and you’ll find it doesn’t have nearly as strong of an impact on your bowel movements.
So there you have some of the main causes of constipation and what you can do to help overcome it. If this is a problem you are facing, know that you are not alone and you are definitely not helpless. Take action and make a few changes to your lifestyle, nutrition, and supplementation and you should be able to get past it.
Madden, J. A. J., and J. O. Hunter. “A review of the role of the gut microflora in irritable bowel syndrome and the effects of probiotics.” British Journal of Nutrition 88.S1 (2002): s67-s72.
Ford, Alexander C., et al. “Efficacy of prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics in irritable bowel syndrome and chronic idiopathic constipation: systematic review and meta-analysis.” The American journal of gastroenterology 109.10 (2014): 1547-1561.
Byeon, Young-Soon, and Jung-In Lee. “Stress and constipation in female high school students.” Journal of Korean Academy of Fundamentals of Nursing 10.1 (2003): 23-29.
Arnaud, M. J. “Mild dehydration: a risk factor of constipation?.” European journal of clinical nutrition 57 (2003): S88-S95.
Voderholzer, Winfried A., et al. “Clinical response to dietary fiber treatment of chronic constipation.” American Journal of Gastroenterology 92.1 (1997).