Few things are as frustrating as when you can’t “go” when you need to “go.” I’m talking about constipation. When you feel bloated and cramped and need to eliminate your bowels, you can’t before you reach for that harsh laxative, pause. Take a deep breath and read on to learn about natural ways to relieve constipation. Don’t worry. I’m not talking gallons of prune juice, either. You can try plenty of other, more pleasant foods and remedies.
Note: none of this is meant to be taken as direct medical advice, please consult with your doctor before taking any new supplements or trying any new health protocols.
The Root Cause of Constipation
We know what constipation is, but what actually causes it? Well, diet, mostly. When you don’t get enough fiber in your diet or hydrate properly, your digestive tract can get backed up. It builds without fiber and fluids to help waste pass through your intestines and colon. Let’s say you get plenty of fiber and water in your daily diet. What else could cause constipation?
If you have an underactive thyroid or diabetes, you may experience constipation. Certain medications like antidepressants, iron supplements, blood pressure medications, and narcotic pain relievers can cause constipation as a side effect. A lack of movement and exercise may also contribute to constipation. Exercise is not just good for mental health! Regular exercise offers total body benefits.
Oh, and for my crunchy mamas who are expecting? Constipation can occur during pregnancy as well. Pregnancy slows down digestion.
Constipation is inconvenient and uncomfortable and can cause serious health problems if left untreated. I have treated many many patients in the ER who came in with severe impactions as a result of constipation, so make sure you are going regularly.
There are a lot of great constipation supplements to help you, you can find a bunch of high-quality remedies HERE (just search “constipation”). If you do not have a Fullscript account, you can sign up for a free account HERE and also get a 10% discount.
Yes, prunes are on that list, but let’s take a look at some lesser-known fibrous foods you can add to your diet.
Artichokes can be enjoyed hot or cold. They promote excellent gut health. Artichokes also have a prebiotic effect, meaning the prebiotics are indigestible carbs. These can increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Sweet Potatoes are a delightful source of fiber and other nutrients. The fiber in these orange foods is mostly insoluble cellulose and lignin. Insoluble fiber aids bowel movements, adding bulk to stools for easy passage. You can enjoy sweet potatoes roasted, steamed, boiled, or mashed. I like substituting sweet potatoes for any recipe for regular potatoes.
Jerusalem Artichoke and Chicory are also natural home remedies for constipation. As part of the sunflower family, these foods provide insoluble fiber like lignin. If you haven’t tried them, Jerusalem artichokes have a nutty flavor. And chicory makes for a great alternative to coffee when you grind it up. You can even grow your own Jerusalem Artickohes by buying the tubers.
Spinach and greens are frequently touted as healthy and essential foods for your diet, and with good reason! Spinach, brussels sprouts, and broccoli are rich in fiber and other nutrients. You can enjoy steamed, raw, or use an air fryer. You can also add spinach to smoothies for an extra fiber kick. The greens add bulk weight to stools.
Coconut water. Along with plenty of electrolytes and nourishing properties, coconut water can also help ease constipation. You can thank the magnesium and fiber present in coconut water. Coconut water is excellent for pregnancy constipation and a solid choice for a post-workout hydration drink. You can sip it, add it to smoothies or fruity mocktails, or even find ways to add coconut water to your salad dressings.
Chia seeds may be tiny, but they are mighty. Just one ounce of chia seeds contains 9.8 grams of fiber. These little seeds can absorb up to 12 times their weight in water, making them another food staple to add bulk weight to stools. You can sprinkle them on top of yogurt (yay, probiotics), add them to smoothies, or sprinkle them on oats or cereal.
Fruits that are rich in fiber include but are not limited to raspberries, apples (with the skin on), and dried figs.
Processed foods and any food high in sodium can eventually cause upset in your gut. It may be time for a diet overhaul if you’re looking for a way to “eat clean” and prevent constipation. Remember, diets aren’t supposed to address temporary issues. Instead, diets are lifestyle changes (hopefully for the better).
One of my favorites is the GAPS diet. This diet reduces or eliminates the foods we know we shouldn’t be eating anyway while inspiring us to eat food as close as possible to its natural state. GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. It is a progressive diet set up in six stages, which makes it more manageable to adjust to, in my opinion. This diet removes complex carbohydrates that feed the pathogenic bacteria in the body while focusing on fermented foods and probiotic supplements to nourish our gut and flora balance. You gradually reintroduce foods back into your diet to determine which ones your body doesn’t quite like.
You’ll probably eliminate processed foods, processed sugar, artificial chemicals, and conventional meat and dairy. Oh, and all grains. You don’t need to rely on grains for fiber when there are so many delicious fruits and vegetables to choose from!
Healthy Life for a Healthy Gut
Beyond eating more fiber and ensuring you stay hydrated, additional natural ways exist to relieve constipation. Have you ever enjoyed a cup of coffee and then had to go to the bathroom after? That is because the caffeine in coffee can stimulate your bowels. Make sure you are drinking health coffee though, we love Purity Liver Blend (a coffee that is specially roasted to help the health of your liver!). Use coupon code REALFOODRN20 for a discount.
Set a schedule. Those who stick to a daily schedule are more likely to develop a regulation elimination schedule that can prevent constipation. Of course, if you try these remedies and nothing seems to get things moving, you may want to speak with your doctor.
Thanks to our microbiome, a collection of bacteria, fungi, and even viruses that live in our bodies, even the slightest bout of constipation can put our whole body out of whack. It is amazing how closely our gut health is linked to our skin health, mental health, energy levels, and more. That is why taking the best care of your gut and nourishing your body with healthy fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins is very important.
If you are really brave and want to try something amazing for your health and detoxification, and also to help clear things out, give coffee enemas a try. Of course consult with your doctor before trying any new health protocols.