Adapted from my interview with Esther Blum, RD, on episode 37 of the Perfect Stool: Understanding and Healing the Gut Microbiome.
- Eat plenty of fiber. One common cause of constipation is not getting enough fiber. Esther Blum, RD, recommends getting at least 20 to 40 grams of fiber per day — 20 grams at first because it’s important to start slow. If you’re not eating any fiber and you suddenly start eating a lot, you could experience gas, bloating and discomfort, so you have to build up your fiber intake over time. It’s also very important to increase your hydration as you increase your fiber.
- Hydration. Wondering how much water you should drink? Here’s a trick: take your body weight, divide it in half, and convert that number to ounces. So, for example, if you’re 160 pounds, you need 80 ounces of water. In addition, for every 20 minutes of intense workouts, you need another eight ounces, and for every cup of caffeine, you need another eight ounces.
- Magnesium. Try taking 400-800 milligrams of magnesium at night before bed to keep your bowels moving.
- Wake up and walk first thing in the morning. This is a wonderful way to gently massage your intestinal tract and keep things moving.
- Water with lemon. Drinking warm water with lemon upon arising gives your gallbladder and liver a good flush.
- Celery juice. There isn’t a lot of clinical research to support celery juice as a remedy for constipation. But anecdotally, in her practice, Esther Blum has seen it work really well, because, like with lemon water, it gives the liver a good flush. First thing in the morning, cut the base and tips off of an entire bunch of celery, wash the stocks, then run them through a juicer. Drink the juice on an empty stomach. Wait 20 minutes, and then carry on with your morning routine.
- Toilet hygiene. Practice sitting on the toilet in the morning for 20 minutes and reading. This will train your body to have a bowel movement first thing in the morning.
- Exercise. The human body is not designed to sit all day. It’s supposed to be moving and active. If you’re lying in bed or sitting all day, your intestines are not moving around or getting stimulation.
- Chew your food well. Most people don’t realize that digestion begins in the mouth. You really have to chew your food until it’s a slurry. It should be the consistency of baby food before you swallow it. The better you chew your food, the better chance you have for smooth digestion.
- Stress-management. Stress is a leading cause of constipation. If you’re holding things in and holding on to your stress – you can become very constipated. Developing regular stress-management activities for yourself during the day can be a great tool for alleviating constipation – and for improving overall wellness, too!
Listen to episode 37 of the Perfect Stool: Understanding and Healing the Gut Microbiome.