Q: Is there a way to cure constipation without taking laxatives or prescription drugs every day?
This is one of the questions I get asked a lot as a gastroenterologist, and I know why.
Constipation, usually defined as having fewer than 3 bowel movements per week, is the most frequent gastrointestinal disorder. And many people don’t want to take meds every day, or are afraid of becoming addicted to laxatives (even if that’s a problem). common misconception).
Here are some “natural” ways to relieve constipation that are backed by science.
increase fiber intake
Prioritizing fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grain products not only increases fiber intake, but also makes stools bulkier, softer, easier to pass, and constipating. It will also prevent.
Recommended by experts take psylliumtake a soluble dietary fiber supplement daily.
Water and other hydrating foods and liquids keep stools from hardening and drying out and soften them naturally.
To stay hydrated, fill a large reusable water bottle and keep it nearby throughout the day. Alternatively, consume hydrating foods and drinks such as milk, juices, tea, coffee (which can also stimulate the urge to defecate), or fresh fruit such as melons and grapes.
Researchers have found that exercise can improve gut health in a number of ways. Enhance your microbiome It reduces the risk of colorectal cancer and constipation. Even just 15 minutes of light to moderate exercise, such as walking or raking leaves, can trigger blood flow and hormonal changes in your gut. stimulate the intestines To advance content.
Using food as a “natural” laxative
Dr. Michael Camilleri, a bowel movement specialist at the Mayo Clinic, said certain foods such as prunes and kiwis may help with constipation.
of one little study For example, in a paper published in 2011, researchers recommended eating 50 grams of dried prunes (equivalent to about 5-6 prunes) twice a day, rather than taking 11 grams of psyllium twice a day. It was found that taking it once was more effective in improving the frequency and consistency of stools.drink prune juice also proven to be beneficial.
a 2021 clinical trial They also found that eating two kiwis a day was as effective as prunes in increasing stool frequency and reducing strain, with the added benefit of improving bloating.
According to Camilleri, the sugars, fiber and other nutrients in kiwi may produce a laxative effect by increasing the water content and bulk of the stool. “This softens the bowel movement and makes it easier to pass.”
use the squat toilet
Dr. Darren Brenner, a gastroenterologist at Northwestern Medicine, says using the toilet seat with your knees higher than your hips can cause: Low-Cost, Low-Risk Constipation Relief.
“It could be a step stool, an old phone book, or whatever, just raise your knees above your hips,” Dr. Brenner says.
Try pelvic floor physical therapy
more than 20 percent of people People with chronic constipation have pelvic floor muscle insufficiency (called pelvic floor muscle dyskinesis), which causes them to contract and impede the evacuation of stool.
Dr. Brenner said talk to your doctor about this condition if bowel cleansing methods, such as enemas, don’t work, or if you’re having trouble passing even soft stools.
Several small but firm Studies show that a special kind of Physical therapy with biofeedbackWorking with a physical therapist to tone the muscles during bowel movements can help about 80 percent of people with pelvic floor dysfunction.
vibrate the colon
new prescription e-capsules, vibrant, is now available for certain individuals with chronic constipation. Swallowing the capsule stimulates the colon with gentle, timed vibrations to facilitate bowel movements. “It’s like a vibrating device you get at a restaurant,” he said. its website.
in one clinical trials Among more than 300 chronic constipation patients, those who took Vibrant five times a week had more frequent bowel movements, improved quality of life and reduced straining compared to those who took placebo.
Dr. Camilleri said vibrating capsules won’t work for everyone, but given the low risk, it might be an attractive option to try.
The jury is still out on many other “natural” treatments.
“People always ask about things like probiotics and fecal transplants,” Dr. Brenner says. “In the future, these treatments may become more powerful, but at present the data are not robust enough to make recommendations for constipation.”
If you develop sudden new constipation, talk to your doctor as further testing with a colonoscopy may be needed.
And in some cases, ‘natural’ and lifestyle interventions may not help in severe cases. Medication may be required to control chronic constipation, just as other health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes require medication.