9 Natural Ways To Make Yourself Poop
I would not wish chronic constipation on my worst enemies. I've been stuck in can't-poop land before, more times than I like to admit, and every single time it's made me wish I didn't exist. Although I find over the counter laxatives to be one of the most evil items you can purchase at a pharmacy — they mess with your colon's natural ability to contract and raise your likelihood for contracting kidney disease — I totally get why people run to the nearest drugstore to get their hands on a stool softener. Not being able to move your bowels sucks.
In 2015, 182 people a day were admitted to hospitals in the United Kingdom because of constipation. There are a lot more of us out there than you might think, which is why it's more important than ever to talk about the natural remedies you've probably never considered. All of these at-home treatments have been proven to work time and time again; in fact, most of them were discovered centuries ago, way before we had access to 24-hour drugstores.
If you've been battling constipation for a while, though, and you have a weird feeling that something just isn't systemically right, call up your doctor. It might be pointing to something more serious and you don't want to take any risks. For those of you who just face constipation every now and again, though, happy pooping.
Here are nine natural ways to make yourself poop.
1. Drink Water With Lemon Juice Squeezed In It
Jennifer May, nutritionist and founder of Sydney City Nutritionist, told the Huffington Post Australia, "Most people get clogged up because they are dehydrated." She says you should drink a lot of water when you're having trouble pooping, even before you think about reaching for any other natural remedy. Even though fiber is always a good treatment for constipation, if you consume it without hydrating enough, you'll clog things up worse than before.
Most nutritionists recommend adding some fresh lemon to your water every time you drink a glass. Even better is drinking this concoction warm or hot; that'll really get things going. Make it a habit in the morning and you should be making regular trips to the toilet bowl in no time.
2. Eat More Fiber Rich Foods
There's a long list here, so you're bound to find something you actually like eating. Fresh, dark green veggies are always a good option. We're talking broccoli, kale, spinach, and brussels sprouts; these all start working on the liver pretty quickly. I'm personally thrilled to announce this, because I'm the weirdo who loves them, but figs are an excellent choice as well. They are high in soluble and insoluble fiber, they feed your body with nutrients, and they gently encourage your digestive system to do its work.
More friends include kiwi, ground flaxseed, and chia seeds. Put all these ingredients into a blender, add almond milk and raw cacao powder, and you've got a pretty strong natural laxative on your hands. Remember to drink lots of water along with any fiber rich foods, though — otherwise you risk making things worse.
3. Incorporate Certain Oils Into Your Diet
The Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are proven to manage symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) because they help you go to the bathroom regularly. Look for a natural supplement or eat cold-water fish, walnuts, or flax. Don't overdo it, though, because if you consume too much fish oil you'll be glassy and bloated.
Olive oil, which you probably have in your cabinet, stimulates your digestive system too, and it's especially powerful when mixed with fresh lemon juice. Another option is castor oil. A study in Nigeria found that controlled doses of castor oil relieved children of their chronic constipation. Keep an eye on how much you're taking, though, and don't take it before you hit the hay. It works pretty fast.
4. Take Some Herbs
Herbs are one of the oldest remedies for constipation, and they're also known as bulking agents. Ground flaxseed falls into this category, as do psyllium and fenugreek. Psyllium is the main ingredient found in products such as Metamucil, but it's best to look for it as a pure supplement in health food stores. Fenugreek is used to get your bowels moving as well; it treats upset stomach and reduces high blood sugar levels.
5. Drink Mint & Green Tea
Green tea only helps with constipation when it's made very strong, according to Jennifer May. She says it should taste bitter on the first sip in order to know it'll be worth your time. As for mint tea, you can brew it any way and it will still relieve bloating and help with indigestion. It's recommended for people with IBS, as it contributes to them going to the bathroom on the regular.
6. Stay Away From Meat, Bread & Dairy For A Little While
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but these three parts of your diet might be contributing to your constipation. Cutting them out temporarily can only help you win the war against constipation. While the probiotics found in yogurt have a positive effect on your colon, consuming too much dairy will cancel out those benefits in a split second. Red meat, cheese, and white bread (although whole grain is OK) are heavy foods that will hinder your colon from conducting business as usual. Nutritionist Michelle Chevalley Hedge told the Huffington Post Australia that "those things should be avoided while you're trying to get your system back on track."
7. Don't Drastically Change Your Coffee Routine
Too much caffeine is never a good thing, but if you're drinking a normal amount a day, your body has come to rely on that coffee for some stimulation. And that's OK. Don't suddenly subject yourself to a dry spell thinking it will cure your pooping blues. Experts also point out the other side of the coin. If you're not a coffee drinker, don't start slamming back lattes in an attempt to get yourself to the toilet. It will be a shock to your system, only causing you more drama that you and your constipated self just can't handle at the moment.
8. Get Your Body Moving
Let me tell you a little story. I recently traveled overseas, and my 20-hour trip back to New York was brutal. After settling into my normal routine, I realized I hadn't pooped in three days. I was a ghost of myself. So I pulled a miracle and dragged myself to the gym after work on a Monday evening. As soon as I got home I was blessed with the sweetest BM relief known to mankind (more than once). The end.
When our bodies are dormant, so is our digestive system. Moving around and getting your heart rate up encourages your colon muscles to relax, which makes it much easier for your body to get rid of its waste. Make sure you wait until your last meal is digested, though, and drink plenty of water before, during, and after you get your sweat on.
9. Pop A Squat
Everyone knows you should be squatting every time you take a dump. OK, I jest. It's not common knowledge, but the way our bodies are positioned when we're on the toilet really does matter when it comes to relieving yourself with the least resistance. Daniel Lametti, a neuroscientist and writer from Montreal, wrote about bathroom posture and its influence on our BMs for Slate in 2010. He references a medical text called Gastroenterology from the sixties, which says, "the ideal posture for defecation is the squatting posture, with the thighs fixed upon the abdomen." This allows the rectum to straighten out. When we sit at a 90-degree angle, though, we're putting pressure on the rectum, which makes it harder for the goods to be released.
That's where something like the Squatty Potty comes in handy. It's a little stool that sits at the base of your toilet bowl, and you put your feet on it when you're doing your biz, which allows you to be in a squat. Constipation doesn't stand a chance. Don't be fooled into thinking this device is only for senior citizens; my partner and I have one at home, as does my college-aged cousin. So give it a shot —even if you don't have a Squatty Potty, you can literally pop a squat while you drink your coffee and that should do the trick.
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