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, and 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, colon cancer, and other digestive problems? That’s why digestive health and avoiding chronic constipation are high on my prevention checklist.
So let’s get proactive about poopin’. You’ll be amazed by how much better you feel when your bowel habits are back on track. Without further a doo-doo, let’s dive into some home remedies for constipation.
13 Tips to Relieve Constipation
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 home remedies for constipation below to help loosen things up.
#1: Drink More Water
Drinking water is the best way to hydrate your bowel movements. Without enough H2O, your stool becomes dehydrated and hard, making it difficult to pass. Your daily fluid intake should aim for half your body weight (lbs) in ounces daily.
Need some help staying hydrated? Check out my top-10 tips to get more water in your day.
#2: Get Enough Dietary Fiber in Your Diet
You need to include fiber-rich foods in 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).
Women need to aim for at least 25 grams of total fiber daily. Rye bread, beans, lentils, flax seeds, chia seeds and celery are real constipation-busting superstars. Adding fiber by eating some of these nutritious foods every day will help relieve constipation and stimulate a bowel movement.
If absolutely necessary—and you can’t get enough fiber in your diet—you can consider using a fiber supplement. Aside from fiber supplements, consider taking digestive enzyme supplements (like this one from Pure Encapsulations).
#3: Add in Daily Moderate 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 regular bowel movements.
#4: Balance Your Supplements
An excess of calcium and iron—both of which are essential minerals—may actually be causing some of your constipation symptoms. 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.
On the other hand, a magnesium citrate supplement can be an easy way to find constipation relief. Magnesium acts as an osmotic laxative. Osmotic laxatives work by pulling water into your digestive tract, which can soften stool, making it easier to pass. Start with 300 mg once a day (you can take up to 300 mg three times a day if needed) until you’re able to have a normal bowel movement.
#5: Limit Your Consumption of Meat and Dairy
One of the many reasons I adhere to a vegan diet is because meat and dairy mess with digestion. These low-fiber foods contain a lot of constipating calcium and iron. If meat and dairy are part of your daily diet and you’re not having a regular bowel movement, limit them or eat them in a small serving along with lots of high-fiber foods.
#6: Take Probiotic Supplements to Aid Your Digestive System
Your digestive system contains beneficial bacteria. When the ratio of good-to-bad bacteria is out of whack, it can mess with the healthy gastrointestinal system necessary for fermentation and healthy poop formation. Taking a daily probiotic supplement will not only ease constipation, but also reduce bloating, gas, and even help reduce anxiety and depression.
You can also find constipation relief by eating more fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and tempeh in your weekly meal lineup. They contain natural probiotics to keep your gut bacteria in a healthy balance for regular, easy stools. Adding in healthy food to your diet is one of the best natural remedies.
#7: Be Mindful of Prescription Drugs and Antacids
Certain medications (prescription and over-the-counter) can be dehydrating and slow down your digestion in a way that increases constipation effects. 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.
#8: Monitor Changes in Routine
Travel, a new job, a new baby, your mother-in-law just moved in—you name it! Any change in your routine can lead to fewer bowel movements. 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 rectal bleeding by increasing fluids, exercising and adding more fiber to your meals—especially soluble fiber from chia seeds, psyllium, beans, lentils and berries.
#9: Don’t Overuse Laxatives to Stimulate Bowel Movements
According to the NHS, there are four main types of laxatives:
1. Bulk-forming laxatives: This is just a fancy term for adding more fiber into your diet, either with food or supplements.
2. Stimulant laxatives: These laxatives are considered a colonic stimulant because they stimulate the lining of your colon to accelerate stool through your digestive tract while simultaneously increasing stools’ water content. Overusing these can lead to the inability to poo on your own so chronic use is not recommended.
3. Osmotic Laxatives: As mentioned earlier, osmotics pull water into your digestive system to make your stool soft.
4. Stool Softener/emollients: This type of laxative acts as a surfactant and “wet” the stool to help improve stool frequency. It’s a slower type of constipation relief.
Even too much senna (a naturally occurring stimulant laxative) can lead to dependence and increase your risk of functional constipation. Senna and over-the-counter stool softeners and stimulant laxatives should be reserved for occasional, last resort use. You should avoid them as a way to treat chronic constipation.
#10: Add Prunes or Prune Juice into Your Diet
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. While prune juice doesn’t provide fiber, it can be an effective remedy to treat constipation.
#11: Consider leveraging Coffee’s laxative effect
I am an advocate for and lover of green tea over coffee. That being said, drinking coffee—whether decaffeinated coffee or caffeinated coffee—can relieve symptoms. It stimulates the muscles in your gut to lead to a BM. But you have to be careful to limit your intake of caffeine, or the downsides will quickly outweigh the benefits of coffee. Secondly, if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), drinking coffee can aggravate your symptoms and lead to an upset stomach.
#12: Drink lemon juice
Lemon is a natural digestive aid. You can drink lemon juice in a glass of cold or hot water or in your tea before bed. Lemon is especially helpful on an empty stomach when you wake up—I start every day with a cup of warm lemon water. It’s not only effective at treating constipation but also helps to flush toxins from your body.
#13: Avoid junk food
Processed foods and carbonated beverages can lead to constipation and wreak havoc on your digestive system, so they should be consumed in moderation. It may not be easy in this fast-paced world but try to follow the 80/20 rule and aim for a healthy fiber-full diet over fast foods 80% of the time.
When to See a Doctor for Your Chronic Constipation
When natural home remedies for constipation don’t bring you relief, it might be time to seek medical attention. While these tips are a great starting place, they can’t replace professional medical advice. When do you need to see a doctor? If you have:
- Rectal bleeding/blood in your stool
- Unintended weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of Appetite
I hope these natural ways to treat constipation 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,
Check out my best selling book, Crazy Sexy Diet, for more tips to keep things movin’ and groovin’. It’s a delicious way to get back on track to vibrant health and happiness! Get Crazy Sexy Diet here. Get Crazy Sexy Diet here.
Kris, thanks so much for these tips. They are very timely for me. I’ve been struggling to get my digestive system back on track for the past four years and after making a commitment last weekend to make my health THE priority in my life, the Universe gave me this.
Thanks, again. You’re a blessing to the world!
I’m so glad these tips align with your needs and that you’re putting your health first! xo, kc
Thanks for the tips, and for all the straight talk about stuff that people need to know! In my experience, an unexpected benefit of going vegan was that it made me very regular, which had never been the case before. I remember once going something like 14 days without pooping while travelling in Indonesia. Now it’s every morning like clockwork!
Right on, Wendy! 🙂
Ayurvedic tradition recommends warm water with lemon every morning. I drink a big glass and it works like a charm!!!!
Great tip, Laura! xo, kc
Thanks Kris. I have another cause for you. I had a minor surgery 6 days ago with a general anaesthetic and I think the anaesthetic shut down all my intestines. Lots of water, smoothies with chia and linseeds, and enemas are my solutions. I don’t know if I could have done anything prior to treatment as it was an unexpected “gift” of the surgery. You live and learn. Starting to come round now, but it’s an unsettling experience.
as a native of Louisiana, I grew up drinking coffee with chicory (CDM; Community; French Market) didn’t realize it’s impressive power to regulate until a friend with chronic constipation visited and was almost immediately “cured”!! so, in addition to making your coffee thicker………..try CHICHORY
Thanks Kris for your crazy, love, and wisdom yesireee!
Amen, to those who shared and reminded of the “bitter principe” – CHICORY, and Matcha Green Tea.
Chicory kills me! 🙁
Eating lots of fruit helps me! Not only does fruit make me feel healthy, but it definetely helps me poo regularly!
My family always had constipation issues so it was all I knew. I thought it was normal to be constipated. October 2013 after being constipated on vacation I developed a fissure. Having no idea what this was and being in severe pain for 7 months I finally went in for surgery to correct it. Now, a spinach smoothie packed with chia seeds, flax seed, celery and other goodies, going poop is now not something I dread. A change in diet can help you feel better all over☺
Happy to hear you’re feeling better, LM. xo!
thank you! i have found matcha tea works too!
Hi Kris. Thanks for these tips! I have been trying to incorporate more fermented veggies to keep me more regular and to make my gut healthier. Every time I eat these foods, though, I feel really bloated. Do you know why this is? Is this normal? Does it get better with time? Love all your recipes! Thanks 🙂
Hi Stacey! We checked in with our Crazy Sexy RD, Jen Reilly, on your questions. Here’s what she had to say; hope it helps!: “Yes, it may get better with time, but have you tried taking a supplemental probiotic? You may want to start there first, and then work the supplement out while you work more fermented veggies in. It’s possible that even with the fermentation, the foods you’re eating are still too gassy, and an isolated probiotic may be your best bet as you build up your ‘tolerance.’”
Hypothyroid causes constipation, all your suggestions are great, thank you! I have found that distiller aloe juice has added moisture to the stool, do,you think it is habit forming? I ran out and went back to constipation. I also had Epstein Barr relapse with mono this year, so I follow Anthony William, as well, he diagnosed me. I follow you Too!
Thank you, love to follow your work, and Bless you for sharing!
Thanks for your question, Maureen. We checked in with our Crazy Sexy RD, Jen Reilly—here’s what she had to say: “From what I understand about aloe vera juice is that you may build up a tolerance to it and so you’ll need more and more to feel relief. Also, it’s possible that prolonged use can actually increase your chances of constipation. So, it’s one that I would recommend as an occasional remedy. Hope that helps!”
I have been taking Mag07 daily for several months. I forgot to pack it on an overnight trip and I couldn’t do anything, even though it is not supposed to be habit forming! Is it safe to take on a daily basis?
Hi Suzanne! We had our Crazy Sexy RD, Jen Reilly, weigh in on this. Here’s what she had to say; hope it helps!: “Mag07 is a cleanser that can be taken daily in the maintenance phase, but I wouldn’t recommend more than the serving size of 3 capsules daily on a regular basis. If your bowel movements are solid, there shouldn’t be any negative side effect. You may try fewer than the 3 capsules daily when you’re NOT traveling to see if a consistent “at home” routine requires less of a booster, and then reserve the full dose for when there’s a changeup or added stress.”
The yoga Kapalbhati breath works well too!
Wonderful tip, patti.
Thanks Kris for all these great suggestions. I’ve been taking daily doses of CALM which is magnesium. My Dr’s tell me it’s not habit forming but I certainly notice when I don’t take it. What are your thoughts on this?
Hi Jennifer! We checked in with our Crazy Sexy RD, Jen Reilly, on your question. Here’s what she had to say: “The research says that magnesium is safe taken daily, but you may want to take half or skip days to see if you need it every single day. Maybe you only need it when you travel or when you are under extra stress?” Hope that helps! xo
I used to go once a day till last year, when I underwent a surgery involving large intestinal tract. I also have difficult in normal walking so i don’t move around much. I’ve been struggling for a normal bowel movement sincemy surgery.
But last week I was given an abdomen strengthening exercise by my physiotherapist and voila, my bowels seem to be normal since then. The exercise is.. Lie down on floor with legs close to buttock, squeeze in the abdomen towards floor while flattening the lower back.
How many times must one repeat this exercise?
Thanks so much Chris, I really needed these tips to get my bowels more regular, love your blog, instagram and Facebook, you are an angel and blessing keep up the good work.
Thanks for the love and support, Christine! xo, kc
Eating a few raw carrots and drinking a bunch of water helps me as needed!
Waking, yoga, and lots of fruits & veggies!
I’ve dealt with constipation all my life. Drinking a giant cup of coffee every morning for decades was the only thing that kept me ‘going’ at all, but when I went on your CSD and gave up the caffeine, I was more clogged than ever (even with all the great fiber foods you recommend.) I had a series of colonics which helped and then started drinking 32 oz. of green juice every morning along with continuing to eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. I also started taking a Magnesium Oxide supplement with citrus. Now I’m back on track and pooping once or twice a day and feeling grateful! Thanks for all your Crazy Sexy Love & Wisdom!!
So happy you’re feeling great these days, Maiya. Thanks for sharing! xo
Thank you for very important information on the importance of regular bowel movements. It is a subject many don’t want to talk about. Getting more fruits, vegetables, water and exercise are all key as you said!
What does the trick for me: coffee (though I’ve given it up to give my adrenals a break), two tablespoons of chia seeds in my morning smoothie (works like clockwork a few hours later), and popcorn before bed. 🙂