Q: Is there a way to get rid of constipation without taking laxatives or prescription drugs every day?

This is one of the most common questions I get asked as a gastroenterologist, and I can understand why.

Constipation, usually defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week, is the most frequent gastrointestinal complaint. And many people do not want to take medicines every day, or they are afraid that they will become dependent on laxatives (although this is. A common misconception).

Here are some more “natural” ways to improve constipation that are backed by science.

Most adults should get 21 to 38 grams of fiber each day National Academy of Medicine. But Few people in the United States do.

Prioritizing fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains will not only increase your fiber intake, but also prevent constipation by making your stools bulkier, softer, and easier to pass.

Experts also recommend Take psylliumSoluble fiber supplement, daily.

Water and other moist foods and liquids naturally soften your stool, keeping it from being hard and dry.

Try to keep a large, reusable water bottle full and nearby throughout the day to stay hydrated. Or use moist foods and drinks such as milk, juice, tea or coffee (which can stimulate the urge to urinate) or fresh fruit such as watermelon or grapes.

Researchers have found that exercise improves gut health in several ways. Strengthening the microbiome To reduce the risks of colorectal cancer and constipation. Even 15 minutes of light to moderate exercise — like walking or raking leaves — can cause blood flow and hormonal changes in the gut. Encourage your gut To advance the content.

Dr. Michael Camilleri, a bowel motility specialist at the Mayo Clinic, says certain foods like prunes and kiwis can help with constipation.

in A little research For example, in Drinking prune juice It has also been shown to be beneficial..

A 2021 clinical trial Plus, eating two kiwis a day has been found to have the same power as prunes in increasing bowel frequency and reducing stress – and has the added benefit of helping with bloating.

The sugar, fiber and other nutrients in kiwis increase the water content and volume of your stools, causing a laxative effect, says Dr. Camilleri. “This softens the consistency of bowel movements, and makes bowel movements easier.”

Dr. Darren Brenner, a gastroenterologist at Northwestern Medicine, says using a toilet seat can help bring your knees above your waist. A low-cost, low-risk remedy for constipation.

“You can use anything—a step stool, an old phone book—you want to raise your knees above your hips,” says Dr. Brenner.

More than 20 percent of people If you have chronic constipation, your pelvic floor muscles are dysfunctional – called pelvic floor dyssynergia – which causes them to contract in a way that blocks bowel movement.

If bowel cleansing methods like enemas don’t help, or if you find it difficult to pass even loose stools, talk to a doctor, Dr. Brenner said.

Several a bit But strong According to studies, a special type Physical therapy with biofeedbackIt involves working with a physical therapist to coordinate your muscles while defecating and can help about 80 percent of people with pelvic floor problems.

A newly ordered electronic capsule, it is called ActiveIt is now available for people with chronic constipation. Once the capsule is swallowed, it stimulates bowel movements by stimulating the bowels with gentle, timed vibrations – “similar to a vibrating device you find in a restaurant.” His website.

in one Clinical trial In more than 300 patients with chronic constipation, those who took Vibrant five times a week had more frequent bowel movements, better quality of life and less fatigue than those who took a placebo.

While the vibrating capsule may not work for everyone, Dr. Camilleri says, given its low risk profile, it may be an attractive option to try.

The jury is still out on many other “natural” solutions.

“People are always asking about things like probiotics or fecal transplants,” Dr. Brenner said. “These may be promising treatments in the future, but the data are currently insufficient to recommend them for constipation.”

If you have new, sudden constipation, talk to your doctor because a colonoscopy may be necessary.

And, sometimes, “natural” or lifestyle interventions don’t cut it for serious cases. You may need medication to manage chronic constipation, just as you need to take medication for other health problems, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

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