Constipated? 9 Tips to Get Things Moving

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Hiya Gorgeous!

Do you sometimes feel like you’re carrying around a load of bricks in your belly? When I get backed up, everything suffers—my overall energy, mental clarity, attitude… So although I covered the basics of healthy poop in an earlier blog, today I want to tackle constipation head-on and talk about how we can all be more regular.

Constipation is obviously uncomfortable, but did you know that it could lead to health issues like fecal impaction (study), colon cancer (study and study) and other digestive problems? That’s why avoiding chronic constipation is high on my prevention checklist.

So let’s get proactive about poopin’. You’ll be amazed by how much better you feel when this train is on track. Choo, choo!

What does it mean to be “regular”?

Everyone has their own unique “regular.” Technically speaking, constipation is any disruption in your typical rhythm that feels uncomfortable. But if you’re the type who goes only a couple times a week and still feels okay, I’d say it’s still worth a shot to try some of my tips below and see if you can increase the number of times you’re going to the loo. You may find that you feel better than you ever knew you could! I’m a firm believer that having a bowel movement (BM) once or twice a day is best for your beautiful bod.

How to identify healthy poo

Your poop should not only be frequent, but also easy to pass, soft, smooth, in the shape of a “C” or “S” (the shape of your intestinal tract) or in clear-cut soft blobs. Although most healthy poop is stinky, it’s not gas mask foul-smelling. And lastly, it should be brown, or dark brownish-greenish color if you eat lots of leafy greens (gold star for you!).

9 constipation causes & tips for relief

Even if constipation runs in your family or you have a highly sensitive or stubborn system, you don’t have to give in to feeling backed up and bummed out all the time. Use my tips below to help loosen things up. Constipation is usually caused by two or more of the following:

  • Not enough fiber. You need fibrous foods at almost every meal, which include a mix of both insoluble fiber (ex. whole grains, non-GMO corn and foods containing non-GMO corn bran, nuts, seeds and fruit and vegetable skins), and soluble fiber (ex. chia seeds, flax seeds, oats, beans, lentils and strawberries). Get more examples of insoluble and soluble fiber sources here and shoot for at least 25 grams of total fiber daily. Rye bread, beans, lentils, flax seeds, chia seeds and celery are real constipation-busting superstars. Enjoy some of these nutritious foods every day for healthy poop.
  • Not enough fluid. You need water to hydrate your high-fiber bowel movements. Without enough H2O, your stool becomes dehydrated and hard, making it difficult to pass. Aim for half your bodyweight (lbs) in ounces daily.
  • Not enough exercise. At least 20 minutes a day of low impact aerobic activity like walking, jogging, dancing or jumping jacks will encourage motion through your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Try a walking or standing workstation to help you incorporate more activity into your work day, or go for a daily morning, lunchtime or evening walk for healthy GI stimulation.
  • Too much supplemental calcium or iron. An excess of these essential minerals may actually be stopping you up. If you think these supplements could be your constipation culprit, check out my guides to getting calcium and iron through your meals. Food sources of these minerals are more gentle on your system because they aren’t as concentrated. Plus, plant sources of calcium and iron also contain fiber and other nutrients that support a healthy digestive system and prevent constipation.
  • Too much meat or dairy. These low-fiber foods contain a lot of constipating calcium and iron, plus they tend to mess with your digestion. If meat and dairy are part of your daily diet and you’re not having regular BMs, limit them or eat them in a small serving along with lots of high-fiber foods.
  • Out-of-balance bacteria. Having too little good bacteria can mess with the healthy GI ecosystem necessary for fermentation and healthy poop formation. Daily probiotics not only ease up constipation, but also reduce bloating, gas and even help reduce anxiety and depression (study and study and study). Make fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and tempeh part of your weekly meal plan. They have natural probiotics to keep your gut bacteria in a healthy balance for regular, easy stools.
  • Prescription drugs and antacids. These medicines can be dehydrating and slow down your digestion in a way that increases your chances of becoming constipated. To help address this pesky side effect, check with your doctor about switching to a medication that isn’t constipating and always make sure to stay hydrated. When it comes to antacids, limit fatty foods to help promote better digestion overall and reduce your need to pop these babies on a regular basis.
  • Change in routine or holding it. Travel, a new job, a new baby, your mother-in-law just moved in—you name it! Any change in routine can upset your bathroom habits, so when you know a change is on the horizon, include plenty of water and high-fiber foods in your diet to help get you through. Also, resisting the urge to go because of hemorrhoids or other reasons can cause or make constipation worse. Soften your bowel movements and remedy hemorrhoid pain by increasing fluids, exercising and adding more fiber to your meals—especially soluble fiber from chia seeds, psyllium, beans, lentils and berries.
  • Overusing laxatives. Even too much natural senna can lead to dependence and constipation. If you’re already upping your fiber, drinking more fluids and exercising without seeing improvement, try eating 3-8 prunes daily. Prunes contain insoluble fiber and the natural laxative sorbitol, which makes your stool softer and easier to pass. One study even found prunes to be more effective than psyllium in relieving constipation. If prunes don’t agree with you or you’d just like another option, try a magnesium citrate supplement. It’s a gentle, non-addictive “osmotic laxative” that pulls water into the intestines and relaxes bowel spasms. Start with 300 mg once a day (you can take up to 300 mg three times a day if needed) until normal bowel movements resume. Senna and over-the-counter laxatives should be reserved for occasional, last resort use.

I hope these tips will help you avoid constipating, party-pooper foods and habits so that you can show your badass BMs some love. I don’t know about you, but I feel lighter already!

Your turn: Do certain foods or practices help you stay regular? Share your tips in the comments!

Peace & poo progress,

Kris Carr

P.S. Want more tips to keep things movin'?

Check out my best selling book, Crazy Sexy Diet, for more tips oto keep things movin’ and groovin’ & getting back on track to vibrant health and happiness! Get Crazy Sexy Diet here.