7 Things That Can Lead To Constipation You May Not Have Realized
It's not fun to talk about, and it's not a fun reality. But when your digestive system is backed up, it's something that can really put a damper on life for a few days. While you might think you know the reason for your lack of movement, so to speak, there are some surprising things that cause constipation that may be worth taking into consideration!
That being said, it's important to keep in mind, one of the greatest factors when it comes to digestion is overall levels of stress, something that researcher at Nature Builds Health, Bart Wolbers, tells Bustle is one of the most common reasons people have gut issues today.
While of course there are many other things to consider, Wolbers recommends incorporating stress-relieving techniques into your routines no matter what else might be contributing to your bathroom woes.
Meditating, movement, and engaging in activities that you really love all help to counter stress, and will no doubt help any kind of issue you're having in the bowels, he says. Along with that, take a look below at a few other reasons you might be struggling to poo.
1. Changes In Your Schedule
Ever notice that when you are on vacation, things get weird with your bathroom routines?
"When people travel or have other schedule or location changes, the body can tense up and not feel safe to have a movement," wellness author and expert Leah McCullough, tells Bustle. It's something she calls "The Safe Toilet Syndrome." Additionally, your regular eating and sleeping habits might be out of whack, and that impacts your digestion big time.
A way to help this, she says, is to take time to relax and have a bowel movement, take a probiotic, or even use an herb such as cascara sagrada for stubborn constipation.
2. That Extra Cup Of Coffee
I know, especially when the day is dragging on, it's no small ask to forego that extra cup of joe or two. But for the sake of trying to, ahem, clear you out, keep tabs on how much coffee you are drinking.
"A big thing that people may not realize that can constipate them is too much coffee," says McCullough. "This sounds counterintuitive because when they have one or two cups of coffee a day, it can help with bowel motility. But beyond that it can cause constipation."
3. Too Much Fiber In Your Diet
"We definitely need fiber in our diets, but too much can make the stool too bulky and distend the colon," says McCullough. So go easy on the grains and bran muffins for a minute if you feel blocked.
"Then the colon can get used to being very full before it gives the signal for the person to have their bowel movement. This can lead to a vicious circle of constipation, hemorrhoids, and even anal fissures from the stool being large in diameter."
Yikes! These things happen, though. McCullough says that it's super important for people to take the time daily to try for a bowel movement, whether they are signaled to or not.
4. Being Sedentary During The Day
Author and trainer Amanda Sterczyk tells Bustle that being physically inactive or sedentary during the day contributes to constipation.
"When we sit for too many hours, our body becomes sluggish, including our digestive tract," she says. "Getting up and moving around helps to get things moving."
If you’ve ever been on a long-haul flight, she says, you’ll know how tough it is to get “regular” again when you’re on the ground.
"Well, the same thing happens when you’re sitting at your desk for endless hours, or sitting on the couch watching Game of Thrones," she says. At the very least, try to incorporate some walks and even jumping jacks into your day!
5. That Evening Bowl Of Ice Cream
Dietitian Colleen Christensen tells Bustle that ice cream is a particularly common dietary culprit.
"That trip to the local ice cream shoppe can cause you to be backed up the next day," she says. "One reason for this could be that you’ve become sensitive to the proteins found in cow’s milk. Another reason ice cream can cause constipation is because it’s a low fiber food."
Taking a probiotic, or trying vegan ice cream, might be the answer for this unfortunate possibility.
6. Eating A Type Of Food You Haven't Had In Awhile
"When you don’t eat a food often, it can take a toll on your gut and bowels when you finally do," says Christensen
If you've kept something out for awhile, ease it back in as opposed to really going for broke. If you haven't had much dairy lately, for example, a small piece of mozzarella will probably be better than a tall glass of whole milk, you know?
7. You Aren't Drinking Enough Water
The culprit for everything, isn't it?
"Water is essential for pretty much every bodily process, including a healthy gut," Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "When you’re dehydrated, which happens more frequently than you would think, your intestines are unable to function optimally, and food doesn’t pass through the digestive tract as easily."
Make sure that you’re drinking enough water in order to nurture a healthy gut!
While constipation is super uncomfortable, know that relief is possible once you find out what is going on. And if it's a persistent problem, my friends, don't hesitate to reach out to a health pro for some help!