Constipation is an unfortunate and unpleasant reality from time to time. Everyone has experienced constipation and knows that eventually, your bowel movements will become regular again. However, some people experience constipation more than others and require changes to their diet and lifestyle to encourage regular digestion.
Whether you’re experiencing sudden constipation or you’re dealing with a chronic condition, there are certain foods and home remedies that are good for constipation and increasing the frequency and regularity of bowel movements.
Constipation is defined as infrequent bowel movements or difficulty passing stools. It can affect anyone at any age. Babies, children and older adults are thought to be more susceptible. Sometimes constipation causes an inability to fully evacuate your bowels, while in others it creates hard or lumpy stools that are painful to pass. Acute constipation comes on suddenly and the underlying cause may remain unknown. This type of constipation may only last a day or a few days at most.1,2
On the other hand, chronic constipation happens when bowel movements become infrequent or difficult for several consecutive weeks. Chronic constipation can be a complication or side effect of a known underlying condition you’re managing. On the other hand, if chronic constipation persists and you’re unsure of the cause, it could be an indicator of a more serious medical condition that hasn’t yet been diagnosed.1,2
In most cases, constipation is usually related to diet, such as not enough dietary fiber, or life events that cause stress. Being dehydrated and not drinking enough fluids can also cause constipation. Constipation can also be the side effect of certain medications.2
If constipation is caused by a blockage in the bowels, then it can slow or stop bowel movements. Possible causes of bowel blockages include:
- Anal fissures
- Narrow colon
- Colon, rectal or abdominal cancer
In some people with neurodegenerative conditions, constipation is the result of problems with nerves in the rectum. This can happen in people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis.1
Common constipation symptoms include:
- Lumpy, hard stools
- Painful stools
- Straining to pass stools
- Feeling unable to empty bowels
In many cases, these symptoms will pass on their own. If you find that you're experiencing frequent constipation, then it’s important to add more fiber to your diet and drink more water.
Best Natural Remedies for Constipation
Whether it’s you or your child dealing with constipation, there are safe, natural home remedies to try to help encourage bowel movements. Try the following foods that are good for constipation:
Prune Juice - A common home remedy for constipation, prune juice is high in fiber and can help alleviate constipation.
Olive Oil - Olive oil can provide a laxative effect to help encourage bowel movements when suffering from constipation.
Psyllium Seed Husks - A high fiber food, psyllium seed husks work for constipation by stimulating the bowels and causing them to contract and help encourage bowel movements.
Agar - Agar powder is high in fiber, which helps to stimulate bowel movements and relieve constipation.
Ginger, Milk and Sugar - The combination of ginger, milk and sugar is a good home remedy for babies with constipation to help remove bowel obstructions and induce bowel movements.