Causes and Natural Cures for Your Constipation
One question I get all of the time is, “Kelsey, why can’t I poop?!”
Constipation is a pretty common problem. Up to 33% of adults experience constipation, with that number increasing with age. If you have fewer than 3 bowel movements a week, or if you have pain or difficulty when you do have a bowel movement, keep reading.
For most people, constipation rarely causes complications other than being temporarily uncomfortable, but people with long-term constipation can develop:
- Hemorrhoids (piles)
- Anal fissures, or tears in the intestinal lining from pushing too hard
- Fecal impaction (where dry, hard poop collect in the rectum)
- Inflammation in the intestines and gut
Because constipation can be so uncomfortable, many people reach for quick fixes like laxatives or other interventions to help with bowel movements. You should not rely on quick fix solutions to help you poop all the time!
These remedies should only be used occasionally. In some cases, these can cause nerve damage in the intestines, lead to nutrient deficiencies, and totally throw off your gut microbiome.
But more importantly, you should be pooping regularly a majority of the time without any outside help. If you have trouble with chronic constipation then something is going wrong in your body and it needs to be fixed so you can live a healthy life with regular bowel movements, and there are many natural cures for constipation that you can start to incorporate into your daily life.
So what are some of the main causes, and THE natural cures for constipation?
Dehydration is a common problem that contributes not only to constipation but also to lack of energy and sluggish metabolism.
When you don’t take in enough water, your stool becomes hard and dry and it’s harder for your body to move matter through your system and out the back door. Simply drinking more water and making sure your adequately hydrated is one of the natural cures for constipation that most people should start with.
Lack of Fiber
Lack of fiber in the diet is another common cause of constipation. Especially if your diet is heavy in processed and refined foods, or heavy in meat and fats like with the keto diet, you may be guilty of undereating fiber.
Fiber adds bulk to your stools and helps stimulate movement in the intestines that carries matter through your system.
If you’re feeling constipated because of low fiber intake, try adding 1 Tbsp of ground flaxseed or ground chia seed to ¼ cup of water and chug it. The fiber will help move things through your system in about an hour or less.
The trick is, you have to drink more water to hydrate the fiber and keep your stools from over-bulking and causing more constipation.
A good way to get an idea of how much water you need to drink is to find how many pounds you weigh and divide that number by 2. The resulting number is how many ounces of water you should drink a day to stay hydrated. Now this isn’t a hard and fast rule but it’s a good starting place to aim for this much water daily. It’s probably a lot more than you’re currently drinking!
Also add a pinch or two of seal salt to your water – not enough to taste it, but enough to add electrolytes that helps your cells absorb the water more efficiently so you get more hydrated.
Stress and Trauma
Stress, and especially trauma, can also influence the ease and regularity of your bowel movements. During times of stress, your body releases hormones, specifically epinephrine and corticotropin-releasing factor. These hormones alter the function of the intestines and can cause the intestines to slow down and become inflamed, which leads to constipation.
If you think chronic stress is the cause of your constipation, finding ways to reduce your stress throughout the day (like walking, breathing exercises, and meditation) can help get things moving again. Finding a qualified therapist to work with can help to heal trauma and regulate your nervous system, which can help get your digestion back in check.
Lack of Movement
Your body is designed to move, so it’s no surprise that a lack of movement on the outside can lead to a lack of (bowel) movement inside!
Not exercising, sitting too much, or just a general lack of movement, can decrease intestinal blood flow and also reduce muscle tone in the intestines, which slows things down. Moving more is a natural cure for constipation that almost everyone can do!
Make sure to get some movement in everyday, 20-30 minutes, whether it’s walking or yoga or stretching or even physical therapy. Move your body and your muscles, and your bowel movements will follow!
Inflammation in the intestines could be caused by bacterial overgrowth or food sensitivities, and is a very common cause of constipation.
When the intestines become inflamed they can’t produce the contractions they need to move things down the line, through your digestive tract. The result is uncomfortable constipation.
If you think your constipation is caused by food sensitivities, leaky gut, or a gut infection, most likely constipation isn’t your only symptom. You probably also experience bloating, fatigue, and gas among other symptoms.
If you experience these symptoms, it will be necessary to get to the root cause of your inflammation so that it can be resolved and your gut can get back to functioning the way it’s supposed to.
Addressing the root cause and implementing some of these natural cures for constipation should provide you some relief.
And if you want to more guidance on how to reduce the inflammation in your gut, make sure to download my free 101 Gut Healing Foods list. Different foods can affect your health both positively and negatively….but small adjustments can lead to big changes!
With this list of 101 foods, you’ll know exactly what to eat to improve digestion, reduce bloating, and build a healthy gut – without giving up the foods you love!