You don't have to look that far to find the best constipation remedies to suit your needs. It's simply a matter of getting more fibre and fluids into your diet. A diet with these two important ingredients will soon put an end to your constipation issues for good. The best way to do this is to eat more fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains because all these plant-based foods contain healthful amounts of fibre.
And while you're consuming these foods you also be getting healthful amounts of fluids too. Want to know why? Because you'll be eating a lot of your water instead of drinking it. Have you heard that you can get all the fluids you need by eating the right kinds of food? All fruits and vegetables contain plenty of fluids and all cooked beans and whole grains will give you plenty of fluids too.
As a vegetarian for over 45 years, people are forever pitching me with this protein thing, little realising that you can get plenty of protein directly from nature. Yes, that's true. Protein-rich plant foods has all the good protein you need. However, nobody mentions anything about fibre. I find that rather strange. While you can get protein from an animal source, there's no real fibre in meat. Not the soluble or the insoluble kind.
You'll hear a lot of people talking about money, sex, divorce and the detail's of their colleague's prostate surgery but what they won't talk about is their constipation issues unless it's unavoidable like the time I took my girlfriend on holiday to Egypt. She hadn't been to the toilet in two weeks and things got so bad that I had to call in the doctor who immediately put her on a drip. We didn't even go to the hospital, the doctor applied the drip in our hotel room and hung it around an overhead lamp near the bed. Being constipated is no laughing matter but being constipated while travelling in a foreign country like Egypt isn't something you want to have to do battle with.
Whether you're on the road or at home, constipation can be easily treated. I'm not saying that as soon as you eat more fruit and veggies that things will get better immediately and especially in places like Egypt where you have to be extra careful what you eat and drink. Water in Egypt is extremely suspect. You can't even brush your teeth with the local tap water, it's so polluted. You need to buy bottled water to do that. You also have to make sure that the water you're drinking comes in a sealed bottle. Depending on where you are in the country, often the tap water is a muddy brown colour.
Which brings me to my next observation. Don't eat fresh fruit and vegetables in Egypt unless you can peel them yourself. I'd stay away from salad type foods altogether and eat only foods that are properly cooked. I can see why people can get constipated in places like this but luckily for me, I had eaten enough of the good fibre-rich food for many years for any kind of constipation to take place, no matter where I was in the world. I have never suffered from constipation because my vegetarian diet provides me with all the constipation remedies I need.
Unlike vitamins and minerals, fibre isn't absorbed by your digestive tract. Instead, it spends a long time in your intestine absorbing large amounts of fluid. And that's precisely its constipation-fighting secret. When fibre absorbs water, stools gradually swell, getting bigger and wetter. Unlike small stools which can accumulate for days on end before moving on, large stools are moved out of the intestine much more quickly. And because large stools are much softer than small ones, there's less straining when they do move. That, in a nutshell, sums up this dirty deed.
So it's all boils down to the food we eat and there's no denying that plant-based foods will do the heavy lifting. Both soluble and insoluble fibre, the kind you find primarily in oats, legumes, fruit and vegetables will help you tremendously in keeping your intestine working smoothly.
The real reason why constipation is so common among westerners and particularly Americans is simply because they don't get enough fibre. On average Americans only get about 11 grams a day which is a lot less than their Daily Value (DV) of 25 grams. Since virtually all plant foods contain healthy quantities of fibre, you wouldn't have to work very hard to get the necessary amounts. Becoming a vegetarian or changing to a vegan diet would also solve this problem.
However, there is one small problem with adding more fibre to your diet especially if you have been consuming unhealthy food for a long period. When your body isn't used to a new diet, it can cause some discomfort in the form of cramping and gas. But to get the benefits without all the grief, you should add more fibre to your diet over several months. A lifetime of not getting enough fibre isn't something you can fix in a week. It takes time just like any illness does. There's never been a quick fix to any health problems but if you gradually increase the amount of fibre you get each day, you probably won't have any discomfort at all.
We may think of water as being a sort of add-on to a healthful diet and not so much as an essential ingredient in its own right. Not getting enough water is certainly a common cause for constipation. After all, your stools can absorb large amounts of water. But when they don't get enough, they can get hard and sluggish thus making them hard to pass. This is particularly true when you're getting more fibre from your food as this should be accompanied by fluids to make the passage smoother.
While you may not always be able to depend on thirst to tell you when it's time to drink, if you're getting plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your daily diet, you would automatically be getting more fluids. There's no need to drink gallons of water if you're eating enough water-based foods. See my drinking water facts on how you can not only drink less water but also how you can eat more water. If you're finding with age that the urge to drink naturally gets weaker, you can always chomp on a celery stick, munch on a carrot or simply bite into a juicy peach.
However, beverages containing alcohol or caffeine don't count towards your daily fluid intake because they're diuretics, meaning they remove more fluids from your body than they put in.
One of the oldest home remedies for constipation is probably the humble prune and the reason for this is because prunes contain three ingredients that help keep digestion on track. For starters, prunes are extremely high in fibre with 3 grams of the tough stuff, about 12 per cent of the Daily Value in just three of them. Prunes also contain a compound called dihydroxy phenyl isatin which simulates the intestinal contractions that are necessary for regular bowel movements. Finally, prunes contain a natural sugar called sorbitol which soaks up enormous amounts of water in the digestive tract thus helping to keep the system active.
And even if you don't care for prunes, you can get some of the same benefits from eating raisins. And just like prunes, raisins are also extremely high in fibre with a hand full providing about 2 grams, 8 per cent of the Daily Value. Raisins also contain a compound called tartaric acid which acts as a natural laxative. If you were to eat about 5 ounces of raisins a day, the average time for your stools to move through your digestive tract would be cut in half, from two days to one.
More Healthy Foods that will also help you Poop
While I'm not one for suggesting over-the-counter medication or supplements, a healthy plant-based diet is all you need to achieve a regular bowel movement. Include a few servings of these foods and other fruits and vegetables and you'll be good to go. By doing this, not only will you increase your stool frequency but you'll also improve the consistency of the stools and hopefully expel the problem once and for all.
Please take note that the information on this site is designed for educational purposes and is intended solely for general readership. The contents herein are not intended to offer any personal medical advice or to diagnose any health issues you may have. This information is also by no means a substitute for medical care by a licensed healthcare provider. For that, you'd need to consult your medical doctor or a health care practitioner for any advice should you require prescription medication.