Constipation is a difficulty emptying bowels and/or a reduction in bowel movements. If an individual finds themselves going to the bathroom less than usual or straining to poop, they may be constipated. Some define constipation as fewer than one bowel movements a day.
Severe constipation is clinically defined as fewer than three bowel movements a week. However, the definition can vary based on what is normal for an individual. For example, one bowel movement a day might be normal for one individual, but be constipation for another.
If you think you might be constipated, you can ask yourself:
- Do I strain when sitting on the toilet?
- Does it hurt to poop?
- Are the stools lumpy or hard?
- Afterwards, do you feel like you are not done?
Here are some nutritionist- recommended solutions to remedy constipation from all angles:
A general recommendation is 1 ½-2 L water per day. For every beverage you have that is not water, pair it with a glass of water. Another recommendation is to always have a large water bottle at your desk for convenient sips.
Move your body
A bowel movement requies movement in itself. Exercise, especially a walk after a meal, can help support the movement of food down the digestive tract.
Consider magnesium citrate
Magnesium citrate is the form of magnesium most supportive of a bowel movement. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant and helps draw water into the intestines to push stool down the digestive tract. Many suggest a magnesium citrate supplement at the end of the day to not only support a morning bowel movement, but overall relaxation
Enjoy pineapple & papaya
Papaya contains the digestive enzyme papain while pineapple contains bromelain. These enzymes help digest proteins. This digestive support can help encourage bowel movement. You can even find papaya enzymes in capsule forms however, the whole food, due to the fiber, is best!
Bitters help encourage digestion and overall motility. Ginger, chamomile, dandelion root, and bitter orange are all bitters. They can be consumed as the whole food itself, such as orange slices, or in tea. Some people enjoy ginger tea before a meal and others prefer digestive bitters in a supplement form before food.
Include soluble & insoluble fiber in your meals
While there are plenty of foods rich in either insoluble or soluble fiber, there are also those full of both! Avocado, oats, and prunes are rich in both forms of fiber. The inclusion soluble and insoluble forms help support gut health and bowel movement. I have even heard of people who travel with a couple prunes as constipation-preventing snacks!