While a reduction in the frequency of your bowl movements may be expected when undertaking one of our weight loss plans, constipation is characterized by less than three bowel movements per week.

Constipation can involve many symptoms, such as discomfort when going to the bathroom, abdominal bloating and pain. Due to stools being hard, dry and difficult to pass, going to the bathroom can be painful and often lead to the development of haemorrhoids due to the pressure exerted.

While over the counter medications can be effective from your pharmacy it is advisable to first try using natural remedies as a solution, this will avoid your bowls unknowingly building a dependence on laxatives.

Check out this list of 7 natural ways on how to cure constipation:

1. Water: it may seem simple but the number one thing to try for constipation is to increase your water intake. Dehydration can be one of the leading contributors to bowl discomfort, when you don’t have enough water in your system your large intestine is forced to absorb water from your food waste meaning what’s left in your bowl is even more dry and hence harder to pass. Carry one of our refillable water bottles with you to encourage yourself to drink regularly throughout the day and keep track of your intake.

2. Fibre: Dietary fibre is the second most important thing you need in your diet to help keep things moving. Dietary fibrerefers to the edible parts of plants or carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the body and hence add bulk to your stool. It is present in all plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Leave the skins on fruit and vegetables where possible as they provide the most roughage and opt for wholegrain products.

3. Prunes: You’ve probably heard this one before, that’s because it works. Whole prunes and prune juice both contain fibre and the sugar alcohol sorbitol, great for aiding digestion. Because sorbitol is digested so slowly, it moves thorough the intestines collecting water as it goes helping to soften stool. Be careful not to over do it though as too much sorbitol can actually lead to bloating and diarrhoea, as equally uncomfortable as constipation.

4. Probiotics: They can be found in fermented products like yoghurt and kimchi and are also available in capsule form from pharmacies. Probiotics encourage healthy gut bacteria and can aid in preventing constipation. They have been shown to increase bowl movement frequency, stool consistency and reduce digestive tract transit time meaning you’ll feel more comfortable. Give them a couple of weeks to start working and seeing results, the healthy bacteria need time to take hold.

5. Caffeine: Many of us will have experienced the natural diuretic effects of caffeine on our bowls. This is because caffeine stimulates the muscles in the digestive tract. Dark roast coffee in particular contains water and a small amount of oil and fibre, all of which contribute to healthy bowl movements, just don’t go overboard as too much caffeine can effect the nervous system.

6. Magnesium: If you suffer from constipation a magnesium supplement may be a good idea. It plays a key role in peristalsis, which is the movement of food along the digestive tract. In addition it has a natural laxative effect because it draws water into the stools, making them softer and easier to pass and is also a muscle relaxant, easing any tension in the intestines that might be causing  If you don’t want to take a supplement make sure to up your intake of green leafy vegetables like spinach and well as nuts and fish which are high in magnesium.

7. Exercise: this may seem self-explanatory. If you get moving it encourages your bowls to do the same. Yoga, Pilates and walking are all great choices as well as pelvic floor exercises which have proven more effective than laxatives for sporadic incidences of constipation.

Blog Post by Jodie Wood