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.
Hi Kris, Thanks for all the great tips. Constipation is such an issue for so many people, your information is so helpful.
I have had good success for myself and my clients with Slippery Elm Porridge.
This easy slippery elm porridge really soothes your stomach and intestines.
It helps with constipation and is very gentle. It does not cause bloating. It is
allergen free and can be spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg or even cardamom.
2 Tb slippery elm powder
½ tsp cinnamon
4 Tb water
3/4 cup almond or hemp milk
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp raw honey or several drops stevia (optional)
• Whisk together the slippery elm, cinnamon, water and nut milk
• Pour mixture into a small pot, stir over a low flame, gently heating the
mixture and stirring constantly until it thickens 1-2 minutes. It will be
like the consistency of yogurt
• Turn off the heat and add nutmeg and sweetener.
• Eat immediately
Love & Hugs,
I start my day with 2 table spoon of cold press organic olive oil and after i take the warm water with lemon n it works .
In some cases if i need to go more to the toilet i would take Epsom salt before i go to bed
Since going Vegan, I poop the right colour and shape twice a day. I never used to poop like that when I was a vegetarian. Thanks Kris for the tips!
Some people take digestive enzymes everyday especially people who are into raw food. I used to take it because I heard it was a good idea, then I started to worry that it makes my own digesting ability bad, because if the pills just breaks down food, you don’t have to do it by yourself. (and my digestion works just fine by itself) So I stopped taking it. Do you know if my theory is correct? You talked about the dependency on laxatives, and this is sort of similar, so I thought I’d bring it up…
Hi Ayaka! We checked with our Crazy Sexy RD, Jen Reilly, on this. Here’s what she had to say: “Great question. It can be hard to tell if we truly need digestive enzymes — many people take them because they feel less bloated after eating. Our bodies make a great deal of digestive enzymes on their own, and it’s unlikely that taking supplemental enzymes would decrease your own production. You may find this article from US News a couple years ago interesting: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/04/23/digestive-enzymes-help-or-hype”
This has been my issue since my teens. The best things for me are -chewing slowly and savouring my food rather than guzzling it (it takes 30 mins for the gut to register foods coming), drinking warm water with lemon, a big pint glass on an empty tummy at least once a day (revs up the liver), a fresh made veggie juice with ginger and celery (it really is a super green for constipation) and setting aside regular times in the day to go and encourage your system..rather than holding it. If all else fails magnesium citrate or Triphala an Aruveydic herb mix is great!
I find drinking/eating miso soup is also great as it is a fermented food, gentle on the stomach and increases all those good bacteria in the gut.
I just bought your lovely cards for my friend and me, they are so beautiful, we both love them!
Keep up the good work, you lovely lady!
Big hug, Sue. xo!
Thanks for this post! My son (age 19) home from college and having some troubles in this department. He has been taking PB8 probiotics and flaxseed oil but then yesterday after reading your post he had a nice big piece of organic celery and some organic strawberries. Sure enough success! Thanks for your tips. It’s nice to know of specific types of food and fibers that can really help.
So happy it helped! xo, kc
I’ve struggled on and off with constipation and have tried all of the above often with little to no affect (I’m a very healthy eater). For me, I found that my constipation is more tied to emotional/psychological stress. Holding on (not letting go) is often related to the need to be in control, which is often associated with fear. I have found that taking the time to truly relax my body and do deep belly breathing for several minutes (at least 5) really helps. It’s amazing how many of us don’t breathe deeply on a regular basis, so when you start to breathe more deeply you often feel like something is stuck because you can’t breathe all the way down to your belly. When this happens for me, I know I’m holding on to something and not letting go, so I just continue to relax to allow the breathing to go more deeply. Hope this helps!!
Thanks so much for sharing, Annette. Great tip.
I have to put a big PSA warning out there for people who may have IBS or general trouble (gas! pain! loose stools! etc.) with eating more fiber, but haven’t pinpointed the problem. I think Kris has mentioned this here and there, but evaluating your sensitivity to FODMAPs can really help steer you away from the most problematic foods for you – it has helped me so much! (But now I do tend to have more problems in the other direction, if you get my drift, hence my reading this post in the first place! 😉 )
Inulin (chicory root) has become an almost ubiquitous additive and source of fiber in processed foods (including even less-unhealthy bars like Clif, Kind, etc.) and even healthier foods/drinks that have added prebiotics. It is probably fine/good for some people. But it took me years to figure out my inulin and other FODMAP issues, so I hope I can help even 1 person here by sharing!
Plz give me the name of more foods to eat to help Me move my bowels thank you
Beans, beans the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and constipation!
Your “Choo-choo!” made me laugh. I swim a couple times a week. Sometimes there’s a little kid swim class where they hold onto the side of the pool and walk their floaty little bodies to the deep end and back. The person at the front is the engine and of course there’s a caboose. Imagine n your mind a gaggle of little high voices yelling “Tzew-Tzew!” SO cute.
Those of us who’ve had cancer treatments (surgery, chemo, radiation, narcotics etc) can get intenstinal blocks, resulting in an unpleasant trip to the hospital, an NG tube and several days of liquid diet. The first warning sign at home is nausea and feeling full. WATER WATER WATER WATER!!!! No more food for at least three days. Just fluids. After day 1 it’s a good idea to add cayenne pepper or pepper sauce to a gentle laxative like Miralax or Smooth Move tea. I also drink miso broth with seaweed and take a probiotic supplement.
Your site has energized me, made me good and mad and wanting to fight for my health. Stage IV doesn’t mean crap!
Thanks Kris! I suffer from constipation and just recently learned that my iron levels are extremely high. My doctor says I need a shot of Desferal. Is there natural way that you know of to lower Iron levels?
Saly, My mother had hemachromotosis…a genetic disease (prevalent in Irish and Jewish folks…1 in every 64 people). It is a disease in which the body doesn’t rid itself of iron as it should. Can lead to cirrhosis of the liver. The only way to lower iron is to donate blood as often as you can.
I have struggled with constipation my whole life. I went vegan about a year ago, but unlike other vegans I know who go 2-3 time a day, I am lucky if I go once every 3 days! I thought for sure eating a healthy, whole-foods, vegan diet abundant with whole grains, tubers, beans and legumes, leafy greens, veggies, fruits and whole-fats would clear things up, but the problem continues to persist! I have tried so many methods in hopes of curing my constipation, from prunes to probiotics, but I can’t seem to find relief.
Do you have any suggestions? Should I speak with my doctor? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
I had the same problem too… Healthy life style but constipation. Ur gut needs more help. I did the Clean gut program after reading the book. Although I bought All my supplements separately from amazon, so it didn’t cost as much. It worked. I went regularly every morning like a normal person, every since. A miracle when all my life I have been constipated.
Thanks for the tips…. I have a son that has CP and is not very active, movicol has changed our lives considering constipation issues. http://www.cp-parents.com/#!What-Is-Movicol-constipation-treatment/c193z/5714f5c50cf2331db0f841ec
just a little note to say I LOVE YOU! You’re so fun & sweet, you’re my model!
I’m 36 and I have a metastasized colon cancer, I had a massive surgery in January + chemo every 2 weeks since then, I had already all of your books so it really helped me to keep a smile on my face and to believe in my strenght.
I read your blog also so it was time I leave my little love letter to you.
Big big big hugs from South of France (gros gros gros bisous)
Take car and keep going babe!
Thanks for sharing this information. If you want to prevent the problem of constipation you should drink more water. Though this, our digestive system works properly and it reduces the problem of constipation.
Appreciation for really being thoughtful and also for deciding on certain marvelous guides to cure constipation, most people really want to be aware of.
Thumbs up for this information
It should be shared so that someone in need can be helped out.
These home tips can really save you from dangerous constipation because constipation is the cause of piles.
Hi Kris, I have this issues in this area & sometimes when nothing works I consume a cup of something called “3 ballerina tea”. It’s all natural & really cleans you out which brings such relief after a week of not being able to go. I’d love to know if your dr has heard of it & if she thinks it’s safe to take?
Thanks for sharing such informative blog.
Constipation is common problem. It means either going to the toilet less often than usual to empty the bowels or passing hard or painful poo.