Everyone has experienced constipation at some point in their life. Sometimes it is due to travel, other times because of stress and for some people it is their normal way of life.
Constipation is typically defined as three or less bowel movements per week along with other symptoms such as hard stools, straining during bowel movement, and the feeling of incomplete evacuation or a block not allowing stool to come out.
While this definition is commonly accepted, many feel ‘blocked up’ if they do not have a bowel movement daily as they will begin to feel more bloated and full with each meal increasing the situation.
There are a variety of reasons for constipation such as poor diet, lack of fiber, lack of water and medications. Certain diseases can slow the bowel, back injury can affect nerve innervations to the intestines and colon, and food allergies/intolerances can also cause constipation.
However if you have addressed these issues and still find yourself feeling a little clogged, try these suggestions that are generally considered safe.
This mineral is often used in conjunction with calcium for bones, however it is also useful for constipation. Take 250-500mg at night before bed to help bowel movements in the morning.
The most common side effect for magnesium is loose stools ergo if you take too much magnesium you may experience a constipation relief.
This mineral is commonly mixed with magnesium for bone health however it too can help with constipation. Consider taking 500-1000mg of calcium citrate with your magnesium at night.
The good gut bugs commonly associated with yogurt are much more potent in supplemental form and may be the healthy boost your intestines need to prevent constipation. Look for a probiotic that is free of dairy, sugar, and artificial dyes and is somewhere in the "billions" for count.
The two main probiotics to look for are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium.
4) Fermented foods
Eating your probiotics may not guarantee you numbers in the billions, however foods such as plain yogurt (no fruit or added sugar), kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir and kim chi eaten on a regular basis may help improve constipation.
5) Abdominal massage
Work your belly in a clockwise fashion. Start at the right lower side of your belly, massage up and under your rib cage, down the left side of your belly and continue in a circular motion.
This can help stimulate your intestines and colon to move stool through more naturally if things are moving slowly and causing some bloating. Use some massage oil or body lotion to make the motions easier.
These suggestions are only for mild and occasional constipation. If you have a long history of a slow bowel or find yourself going more days without a bowel movement than days with a bowel movement, talk to your health care provider about appropriate work up and relief.
1) Chronic Constipation: Diagnostic and Treatment Approaches: Current Treatment Options. Web. 20 August, 2012.
2) Use of Probiotics in Gastrointestinal Disorders. Web. 20 August, 2012.
3) Abdominal Massage May Facilitate Gastric Emptying in Patients With Impaired Motility. Web. 20 August, 2012
Reviewed August 20, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith