How can you help your gut and improve your digestive health? We have asked nutritionist Christine Ellis to comment on the most common natural remedies for constipation.
One in five people in the US suffers from constipation. That makes it the most common digestive issue for a modern couch-adjacent human. However, many of us are quite reluctant to talk about this common issue due to its delicate nature. Let’s fix that!
Before turning to store-bought laxatives, check if you already established these gut-healthy habits.
#1 Drink 8-10 Glasses of Water Per Day
This mantra might be overused, but it stays true. Water is the single best thing for your body, and that is especially true if you wish to fight constipation.
How come? Let’s start with the basics of digestion. After you eat, the food goes through your digestive system. At first, the nutrients get absorbed in the small intestine. After that, the waste is pushed into your large intestine.
One of the key functions of your colon is to absorb water from the waste that comes into it. If you don’t have enough water in this waste, your stool dries out. It is tough to get it out of your body smoothly.
– explains Christine.
Dried out waste will move through your large intestine slower, and the end result will not be satisfying. The solution? Drink plenty of water to keep your colon happy.
#2 Eat More Fermented Foods
From the moment you are born, you get into contact with microbes: bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Even though we are led to believe that we must disinfect and kill these tiny creatures, it’s simply not true.
Most of the bacteria are actually beneficial to your health.
Your gut contains up to 5000 different microbes species that can take up approximately 2 kilograms of your body weight. It ensures your food gets digested, and your immune system works properly. Even more, your gut has more neurons than your brain, and it is the first to sound the alarm the second something is wrong.
Fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, kefir, miso, or pickles naturally contain probiotics. Eat them regularly to ensure your gut bacteria is healthy and well-fed, and you will notice a long-term improvement in your overall health.
– recommends Christine.
It can take up to 6 months to create a balanced and healthy gut microflora, but it’s definitely worth investing your time into it.
#3 Increase Your Fiber Intake
Your grandma was right when she insisted you eat more prunes if you have stomach trouble. Fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains have copious amounts of fiber that is necessary for your gut health.
Your body cannot break down fiber. It travels through your digestive system intact and helps to clean out your gut. – says Christine. Think of fiber as nature’s broomstick – it sweeps harmful carcinogens and cholesterol out of your body.
Plant-based foods have plenty of fiber, and you should always make sure that at least half of your plate is covered with a variety of fresh produce. However, if you feel that you tend to skip on your veggies, you could try fiber supplements.
|Do you get enough fiber?
Probably not. Half of Americans do not cover the required daily target for fiber.
#4 Work Out for 30 Minutes Per Day
Exercising boosts mood and metabolism, but one of its unexpected benefits is improving your digestive health. It helps to strengthen abdominal muscles, increase the blood flow, and ensures the food moves through the colon faster, which leaves more water in the stool at the end of the process.
Working out also reduces stress, which is one of the reasons for constipation in the first place.
Have you ever noticed that you have gut problems in stressful situations? Digestive issues while traveling or before a big job interview are your body’s natural reaction to stress.
– clarifies Christine.
30 minutes of exercise per day for 5 days a week is enough to help your gut work more efficiently. Ensure your heart rate increases while you garden, hike, swim, or clean your home, and you will significantly reduce the risk of constipation.
#5 Keep a Regular Schedule
You are a creature of habit, and keeping a scattered schedule is not making it easy for your gut. Regular bowel movements will only occur if you make an effort to go to sleep and wake up at approximately the same time.
Sleeping for 7-8 hours each night will allow you to let your body digest food and prepare yourself for the next day. – says Christine. Eat your meals at the same time each day and have your last meal 2-3 hours before going to bed.
If you still have trouble falling asleep, try to avoid screens one hour before sleep, and build your bedtime ritual. You might want to take a bath, read a book, or write a journal.
+ BONUS TIP
How to get a healthy gut and avoid constipation? Try building these effective habits:
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water each day.
- Eat fermented foods that are high in natural probiotics.
- Eat more vegetables and fruit and increase your daily fiber intake.
- Work out for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
- Sleep for 7-8 hours each night and do not eat 2-3 hours before going to bed.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but if you want to use the bathroom, don’t let anything stop you. Research shows that most people start struggling with constipation when they willingly refuse to use the bathroom when they have to. Whether it’s at work or at a bar — do your thing. There’s nothing shameful about listening to your body’s needs.
Would you like to start strong on this journey? Fiber is essential for your digestive system, and you are probably not getting enough of it.
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