Ever felt like you needed to do the number two real bad, but when you go and sit on the toilet, nothing is moving? You feel very uncomfortable and bloated, and when you are finally able to go, you find yourself straining and it’s painful.

Everyone in their life time has experienced being constipated before. Constipation happens for a variety of reasons that includes stress, low-fiber diet, improper fluid intake, artificial sweeteners, or certain prescription drugs. If you have medical conditions such as diabetes and cancer, thyroid problems, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), those can also be a cause of constipation. Your age also plays a factor. As we get older, we will get more prone to the problem.

And boy is constipation a problem, even though it’s not a disease. It’s just something that happens when bowel movements are blocked up and difficult to pass. When you understand the fundamentals of constipation, treating it won’t be so difficult. Depending on how severe your case may be, simple home remedies may do the trick or you may require medical attention.

1. Normal bowel movement

People are under the impression that they have to have a certain number of bowel movements a day or they are constipated. The truth of the matter is, what defines as “normal” depends on the individual and can range from four bowel movements a day to four a week. Your body will let you know you’re constipated when there is a lot of straining involved, your stools are hard, and your stomach feels bubbly and bloated.

Throw away the laxatives!

Reaching for a laxative at the first sign of constipation is not a good idea. Using them can become habit-forming to the point that your colon becomes affected and damaged. Some laxatives interfere with the effectiveness of medications that you’re already taking while others cause the lining of the intestines to become inflamed.

If you must take a laxative, it is best to buy one that contains psyllium. This fiber is natural and much gentler on the system than some of the ingredients found in other laxative products.

Now that you have a better understanding on what it means to be constipated, let’s learn some ways that it can be remedied at home. You’ll be surprised to learn that you can find relief in your own kitchen.

2. Load up on fruits and veggies

Eating the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables (5 servings) is a good start in preventing constipation. Choose a variety, including potatoes, bananas, apples, oranges, mango, berries including raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, prunes, pears, artichokes, winter squash, Brussel sprouts, spinach, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. Reach for the whole produce instead of the juice because, for example, a glass of orange juice contains .1 grams of fiber while eating a whole orange contain 3 grams.

3. Cut down on refined foods

Increase your fiber consumption by swapping from refined foods to those that are less refined. You can do that by simply choosing whole-grain cereals over the processed brands, eating vegetables that are less cooked over the ones heavily cooked, and whole-grain foods are always better than foods made with flour. One serving of white rice has around .5 grams of fiber while the same amount in brown rice contain 2.4 grams. And while a bag of potato chips has only .7 grams of fiber, a bag of popcorn is equipped with 2.6 grams.

4. Blackstrap molasses and honey

Take 2 tbsp. of blackstrap molasses at night before going to sleep to relieve constipation. It is best to occasionally take some at night and not during the day because of the amount of calories it has. Doing this every few nights will help get your bowels moving. You can mix it with your milk or fruit juice if you can’t handle the taste alone. For an extra laxative punch, add some to prune juice.

Honey is also a natural laxative. Try adding 1 tbsp. to your favorite beverage or you can just take it by itself. If honey doesn’t work on its own, you can add mix in some blackstrap molasses. In a glass of water, you can add 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp. of honey for the perfect laxative. Be mindful that honey is also high in calories so use it sparingly.

5. Beans are not only good for your heart

Beans and legumes are excellent sources of fiber. A lot of people are not a fan of them because of the gassiness they may cause. Soaking them overnight before cooking them can help with this problem remarkably. Besides, adding beans to your diet gradually will reduce gassiness in the long run.

6. Oil up on oil

Vegetable, safflower, and soybean oils may be just the cure you need for constipation because of their lubricating effects on the intestines. Try taking 2 to 3 tbsp. a day until the problem is gone. Do not make it a daily habit though! On the days that you are taking the oil, make sure that you are balancing your calorie intake by decreasing the consumption of butter. Or else, you will end up gaining weight while you are searching for relief from constipation. You can mix the oil with lemon juice or vinegar and make a vinaigrette for your salad if you don’t like taking it straight from the spoon.

7. Get some exercise

It works great on constipation especially first thing in the morning before you eat any breakfast. Exercise not only promotes regularity but it also keeps you healthy and in great shape. The more inactive you are, the slower you bowels move. That explains why the elderly, who are likely to be inactive, and those who are bedridden are prone to constipation. And we are not talking about running a marathon here; a simple 15-30 minute brisk walking not only doesn’t take up much time, but you can also reap a lot of health benefits from doing it. When it comes to constipation, even a little workout is better than not working out at all.

8. Know what you are eating

Keeping a food diary is very helpful if you suffer from constipation because that may be a way that your body is reacting to certain foods that you are eating. By keeping a diary of what you eat, you will know which food is causing your constipation.

9. Stay hydrated

They don’t say to drink eight glasses of water for nothing. Water not only keeps you hydrated and improve you general health, but it also helps to keep you intestines moist so that your bowels can easily pass through.

10. Have a cup of coffee

The bitter-tasting elements in coffee and other foods that are bitter helps to stimulate the digestive system. If you’re not a fan of coffee, an herb called Oregon grape can be used as an alternative. The root of that plant have been used for centuries to treat occasional constipation. Mix 1/2 tsp. of the tincture in a cup of warm water and sip it slowly before a meal for best results.

11. Fiber supplements

If all else fails, fiber supplements may help even though you’re better off getting all of the necessary fiber from your diet. If you are going to take a fiber supplement, make sure that you are drinking plenty of water.

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