Today, I’m going to be talking about pooping. Yup, we’re going to learn how to poop more frequently and healthily. For some going to the toilet in the morning is their worst experience of the day. They may spend more than 10 minutes on the toilet seat, trying real hard to push, but nothing seems to come out cause everything is blocked.
There are many factors that can cause constipation, some of the most common reasons include severe stress, a poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, dehydration, and even a change of environment or time zone due to travelling.
Here’s a fun fact. Did you know that women suffer more from constipation than men? This could be due to the slower movement of food through a woman's intestines, as well as the effects of female hormones on the GI tract. Constipation is especially common in the days leading up to mensuration, during pregnancy and even after menopause.
So how frequent should you go to the toilet? There’s no one straight answer as each individual’s bowel movement is different. For some it’s on daily basis, some might even go up to 3 times a day, whereas for other, it could be on alternate days. However, if you have less than three bowel movements a week and your stools are hard, dry and difficult to pass, you’re likely constipated.
I’ve done several videos in the past talking about how important is it to have a healthy gut, your gut is your “second brain”. Your gut health does not only affect you physically but also mentally and emotionally. I’m sure when you’ve been constipated for several days, your abdomen feels bloated and extremely uncomfortable, making you agitated, and even moody.
All of us do face constipation occasionally, but if you’re someone who has to deal with it almost on a regular basis, then try doing this 7 Things to Help Relieve Constipation Naturally.
1) Drink Warm Water
Our body is made up of 60% fluid. Drinking enough water is extremely important to keep everything moving in your digestive tract.
Just think of your colon like a tube. Imagine that you’re eating all these foods, and they go into this “tub”, but there isn’t enough water to push the food down through the tub, hence everything will start to get blocked and eventually harden.
Drinking warm water helps to break down food faster than drinking cold water, hence helping you to go to the bathroom more easily and reduce constipation.
2) Drink a Cup of Coffee
If you’re saying that warm water doesn’t even help you, then the next step you can try is to drink a cup of hot coffee. For some people, including myself, consuming coffee can increase the urge to go to the bathroom. This is because coffee stimulates the muscles in the digestive system to contract, causing a bowel movement.
In fact, a study found that the effect of coffee is 60% stronger than drinking water. So if I’m really struggling to go to the bathroom and a cup of warm water just doesn’t do it, I would drink a cup of hot coffee in the morning and it works almost instantly.
Coffee also contains small amounts of soluble fibres that can help prevent constipation by improving the balance of gut bacteria. Saying that however, for those suffering with IBS, caffeine could over stimulate your bowel, making the digestive symptom worse. So this method might not be for everyone depending on your digestive health, but caffeine certainly does help to relieve constipation, especially for me.
3) Have a Consistent Poop Routine
Just like eating, sleeping and exercising, you need to establish a poop routine too. For most people including myself, I would go to the toilet first thing in the morning, some might be at the end of their day. Choose whatever works for you, but you need to have a bowel movement at the same time every day. And it needs to be a time where you don’t feel rushed.
If I have a rushed morning, I’m not going to be able to poop, everything is just going to be blocked up and I’ll feel constipated later on. Hence I’ll get up at least an hour earlier every morning before leaving home, to make sure my toilet experience is relaxing, and flush everything out, even before I consume breakfast.
For some of you, eating a small breakfast can help to stimulate the gastrocolic reflex, which can help waste move through your colon. So you might try going to the bathroom 15-45 minutes after breakfast. But avoid eating a heavy breakfast, because that could slow down your digestion and cause constipation.
4) Adjust Your Toilet Posture
Did you know that your toilet posture could also cause constipation?
Let’s first take a look at our standard sitting toilet posture. Typically, a person sits on a western toilet bowl just like how he would sit on a chair. The position is basically at a 90-degree position where your hips are bent. While sitting on your toilet is comfortable, the placement of your upper legs at 90 degrees to your abdomen disrupt the passage of your intestines, making having a bowel movement more difficult. Some of you might find yourself bending your upper body forward while sitting, thinking that it can help with your bowel movement. In fact, it blocks it further.
The natural human impulse is to squat while emptying the bowels. I’m sure some of you might have seen and even use those squatting-type toilet bowls, in fact, my grandmother is still using it and it’s still pretty common in Asia.
When you’re in a squatting position, your knees are brought closer to your abdomen, positioning your organs and muscles in a way that relaxes your rectum in a straight line. This maximizes the efficiency of your bowel movement.
Of course, you can’t be squatting on your toilet bowl, it’s just dangerous. What you can do is to place a low stool in front of your toilet seat and place your feet on the stool. This will help you achieve the 35-degree hip angle that does not constrict your rectum and allow the stool to pass more smoothly.
I know some of you might be thinking, I can’t believe she just taught me the science on how to poop correctly. Well it really does work and it’s worth trying to see if it helps you. That’s why, you’ll find a low stool in my house. haha!
5) Increase Your Fibre Intake, But Don’t Overdo It!
I’m sure you’ve heard this too many times, if you can’t go to the toilet, eat more vegetables and fruits! This is because dietary fibre increases the size of your stools, makes them softer and easier to pass. The general recommendation for dietary fibre intake is 25g for women and 38g for men daily.
If you don’t consume enough fibre in your diet, start by adding more high fibre foods to your meals including fruits, vegetables, beans, whole-grain breads and cereals. But add it in slowly. If you start eating too much at once, this can actually cause constipation.
If however you’re telling me that I do consume more than enough fibre, yet I’m always bloated and constipated. Here’s what you need to know, having too much fibre in your diet can also cause bloating, gas and constipation. This is especially uncommon, if you’re someone who’s following a vegan or a raw diet.
Fibre is vital for healthy, solid bowel movements. However, eating more than 70g of fibre a day can cause bloating and constipation. So don’t overdo it!
6) Eat Pre & Probiotics Food
One of the reasons why you have digestive issues is because of an imbalance in the bacteria that live naturally in your intestines. We need both pre and probiotics to keep our immune system strong and to support our overall digestive health.
Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that helps keep your body healthy and working well. Probiotics are live bacterial cultures that we consume in fermented foods or in supplements. Fermented foods which are rich in probiotics include yoghurt, tempeh, aged cheese, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, natto, kimchi and miso.
While probiotic foods have live bacteria, prebiotic foods feed the good bacteria that already live in your gut. Foods rich in prebiotics include banana, apple, barley, oats, seaweed, asparagus, garlic, onions, jerusalem artichokes and honey.
7) Exercise Regularly
And the final point is to exercise regularly. I can’t emphasis enough about the importance of regular exercise to your overall wellbeing. Muscular contraction is directly related to blood flow; less blood flow will mean weaker contractions, which equals slow food transit time.
When you exercise, especially performing cardio training, you increase the blood flow in your body, hence stronger blood flow pumps through the intestinal muscles. This helps to stimulate the natural contraction of muscles in your intestines, and decrease the transit time of food passing through your intestine.
It doesn’t have to be a long or vigorous workout session. Even a short 15 - 30 minutes morning walk can keep the digestive tract healthy. Stretching and even practicing yoga may also ease constipation. Certain yoga poses can be helpful because they reduce stress and increase blood flow to the digestive tract, which stimulates the intestines to contract. One of the yoga poses include the deep yoga squat, which mimic the squatting position of passing stool.
These are 7 simple tips to help relieve constipation naturally. Try them out and let me know what works best for you. It’s important to also remember that your digestive health still comes down to your lifestyle. Eat a well balanced diet and avoid greasy or fatty foods, reduce your intake of fast foods, alcohol and soft drinks, get enough rest daily, move daily and do things that will reduce your stress levels.
Occasional constipation is normal, but if you experience pain every time you go then speak to your doctor if you’re concerned about your ongoing constipation.