How to Relieve Constipation

Three Methods:Change Your DietChange Your LifestyleTake Measures for More Difficult Cases

Constipation occurs when the muscle contractions in your intestines are too slow to push the stool out of your body, or when there isn't enough water in your stool to soften it and move it through your intestines. There are a number of things you can do to relieve your constipation, from adjusting your diet to trying a few over-the-counter medications. If you want to know how to relieve constipation and stop feeling uncomfortable, just follow these steps.

Method 1
Change Your Diet

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    Add more fiber-rich foods to your diet. Fiber-rich foods are known to help stimulate your bowels. Unfortunately, these foods, such as many fruits and vegetables, often get overlooked in a person's daily diet. Don't think of veggies or fruits as optional side dishes, but as crucial parts of every balanced meal. Not only will these foods relieve constipation, but they will also promote digestive health by improving your diet. You should aim for at least 24-38 grams of fiber a day. Here are some foods to add to your diet:[1]
    • Avocado, split peas, broccoli, kale, green peas, and lentils
    • Bran cereal, oatmeal, brown rice, and flax seeds
    • Black beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and soybeans
    • Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and oranges
    • Cabbage and cauliflower
    • Almonds, dried figs, and olives
    • Papaya and peaches
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    Increase the intensity of fiber. If adding a few fiber-rich foods to your diet doesn't improve your problem, you can try a three-day fast of a high-fiber vegetable, or substituting one or two of your meals for foods that are entirely fiber-rich. This is not a good long-term solution because a balanced diet does require proteins and carbohydrates as well, but the three-day method can work in a pinch.
    • Cabbage is particularly good because it's not only high in fiber, but it has enzymes which encourage the entire digestive tract to "flush." This is also a good liver cleanse for a build-up of liver toxins.
    • Cabbage can be prepared in a number of ways, including skillet frying, if the oil used is grape-seed oil or olive oil. You should vary your recipes so the three-day fast becomes enjoyable.
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    Take a fiber supplement. Consider taking a fiber supplement even if you think you are able to get that much fiber from your daily meals. Though these supplements aren't guaranteed to work, they have helped people relieve their constipation in some cases. Some processed or synthetic fibers such as Citrucel, Metamucil, or Perdiem can do the trick.[2]
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    Hydrate well. Constipation can also be caused by insufficient hydration. Generally drink a minimum of 33-66 ounces (1.5-2 liters) per day, or more depending on your size, the weather, or amount of exercise. Constipation results from a lack of liquid in your stools, and hydrating can help this problem.
    • If you're having a bout of constipation, increase your water consumption for 3-4 days, starting with a big glass in the morning and drinking regularly throughout the day.
    • In general, you should be drinking at least 10 glasses of warm water daily. Water is one of the best liquids that wash waste and toxins out of the body.[3]
    • Other drinks, such as juice and soda, cannot compare regardless of how healthy or natural they are, because they tend to contain excessive sugar that could actually exacerbate constipation.
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    Add prunes or prune juice to your diet. Prunes are especially high in fiber and contain sorbitol, a stool-loosening sugar that naturally helps relieve constipation. Sorbitol is a mild colonic stimulant that helps reduce transit time of stool and thus decrease the risk of constipation.[4] If you don't like the wrinkly texture or unique taste of prunes, prune juice may be a more palatable alternative.
    • Prunes can be more effective for relieving constipation than prune juice. Prunes have 14.7g of sorbitol per 100g, whereas prune juice has 6.1g per 100g. You will have to drink more prune juice to achieve the same health benefits because the prunes are processed, and you will have to take in additional sugars.
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    Try the banana cure for mild constipation. This requires that you eat a banana with a glass of warm milk, chewing the banana carefully. Make sure that the banana is very ripe, not unripe, or it can have the opposite effect.
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    Avoid foods that cause constipation. Constipation can result from over consumption of fats, refined sugar, and dairy in comparison to fiber from whole grains, bran, fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods that are high in sugar, like candy or cookies, as well as too much cheese, red meat, white bread, white rice, and hard boiled eggs. You don't have to cut these foods out of your diet completely, but you should cut down on these foods if you're having trouble evacuating your bowels. Here are some other foods to avoid:[5][6]
    • Chips and crackers
    • Frozen dinners, which are often high in fat and low in fiber
    • Cookies
    • Unripe bananas
    • Fried foods like fries, doughnuts, and onion rings
    • Heavily breaded foods
    • Dairy products like butter, ice cream, cheese, or yogurt
    • Red meat
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    Avoid caffeine. Though caffeine can help you relieve your bowels as a quick fix, a long-term use of caffeine can actually cause dehydration and exacerbate your problem.[7]
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    Avoid alcohol. Like caffeine, alcohol can dehydrate you and make you more constipated. Limiting or stopping your intake of alcohol can help you relieve your bowels.[8]

Method 2
Change Your Lifestyle

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    Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. Scheduling a time to have a bowel movement promotes regularity and can trigger your body to have a bowel movement. Make time for a bowel movement, whether it's in the morning, after your afternoon meal, or several times a day that are convenient for you. If you don't have a regular schedule, your body can be confused and unready to have a movement.
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    Heed the call. If your body is telling you that it's time to have a movement, don't put it off. Even if it's only a mild suggestion, you should spend some time in the bathroom, even if you're in the middle of a busy day. If you ignore your body when it's telling you to have a movement, this can cause constipation later in the day. You may be ready to have a movement later, but your body won't be.
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    Stay active. When you're going through a bout of constipation, try some light exercise instead of sitting down. Just taking a 20 to 30 minute walk can help stimulate your digestive tract. Any form of exercise can help your body promote healthy bowel movements.
    • Though you may not have time to go on a bike ride during a bout of constipation, plugging exercise into your weekly routine can help ease your constipation over time.
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    Do yoga. Yoga has been known to relieve stress and improve overall digestive health. There are also a few yoga poses that can stimulate the bowels, and holding these poses alone can be effective in relieving your constipation. Here are some poses to try:
    • The shoulder stand. Lie on your back and raise your legs straight up in the air, so they're perpendicular to your torso. Then place your hands on your lower back, using your arms to support your legs as you straighten your spine.
    • The wind-relieving pose. Lie flat on your back. Bend one knee and extend it to your chest, holding it for ten seconds. Then switch and do this with the other knee. Alternate between knees at least five to ten times.
    • Kapalbhati Pranayam. Try Kapalbhati Pranayam yoga. Many people say it is very effective in relieving constipation.It should be done on an empty stomach or 5 hours after a full meal.
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    Squat on the toilet. When you sit on the toilet, don't put your feet on the ground. Instead, lift them up so you're squatting into the toilet a bit more, or place them on a footstool. This position is ideal for moving your bowels. If you want to try squatting, get a child's step stool or stack of phone books and prop up your feet while you're sitting on the toilet. If you don't feel comfortable squatting, pull your legs in as close as you can get to the toilet bowl and raise your heels so you are doing "tippie-toes" with your feet. Then lean as far forward as you can without losing your balance, this will get your body into a "squatting position" without actually squatting. This will let stools out easier.
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    Find something about knee-high with handles you can grab. Position it so the handles are right above your toes. Two tall, wooden stools might work. Grab the handles and press down for stability and strength while trying to move your bowels.
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    Do daily acupressure. Massaging or pressing a few key pressure points in your body with a free hand or just two fingers can help stimulate your colon and relieve your constipation. Try applying pressure to the following points:[9]
    • The outer end of the elbow crease
    • The highest spot of the muscle on the back of the hand that sticks out when you bring your index finger and thumb close together
    • Directly below the bellybutton

Method 3
Take Measures for More Difficult Cases

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    Know when to talk to your doctor. Though constipation is a common problem that can affect 15-20% of Americans, if your constipation lingers for three weeks or more, you should see a doctor because it could be a sign of more serious digestive conditions. [10]Here are some other reasons to see your doctor:[11]
    • You have severe constipation and have never been constipated before
    • You have blood in your stools
    • You're bleeding frequently from straining
    • You've lost weight without trying
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    Use a rectal glycerin suppository. This suppository works by drawing water into the intestines. This usually results in a bowel movement within 15 minutes to an hour. This method is not meant to be used often, but is a measure to be taken in more extreme cases. Follow the directions on the label and don't use it more often than recommended.[12]
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    Take a saline (osmotic) laxative. You should not take these types of laxatives if you're on a sodium-restricted diet or if you have high blood pressure or kidney problems. Some saline laxatives include Fleet Phospho-Soda, Milk of Magnesia, lactose, and Miralax. These laxatives don't irritate the colons or cause dependence like stimulant laxatives can.
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    Take a stimulant laxative. Some stimulant laxatives, such as Ex-Lax, can also help relieve constipation. However, these should only be used in a pinch, and for no longer than two weeks without consulting your doctor. Regular use of laxatives can actually cause dependence, weaken your bones, and may even cause constipation.[13]
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    Be wary of painkillers. Painkillers, especially narcotic ones such as hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lorcet, Norco) and oxycodone (Percocet and Oxycontin), can cause constipation. Though you shouldn't stop taking painkillers just to relieve your constipation if you really need them, talk to a doctor about alternatives.[14]


  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Drink lots of water, eat vegetables, and exercise daily.
  • Eat a high fiber diet.
  • If you are not getting enough water in your system, it is good to have fresh fruit or a supplement that can re-supply you with water, enough to get your insides moving, and to somewhat soften stool.
  • Avoid eating food high in fat and sodium, as this makes it harder to pass stools.
  • Go when you have the urge.
  • Have a warm bath! Lie in it and relax.
  • Do not strain while passing motions! Try letting your body relax and clear your bowels naturally. If your body is not cooperating, take a laxative and try again later.
  • Try deep breathing and relaxing!
  • Stay near a bathroom so when you have an urge, you can go before it leaves.
  • Drink warm water.
  • A relaxing bath calms you down.
  • Get plenty of exercise,Yoga & Pranayam.
  • Try reducing your meat and dairy intake; or you could try going fully plant-based or vegan.
  • Eat some coconut oil. Coconut is a natural diuretic.


  • Never hold it when you need to go. The worst thing to do is keep it in your body.
  • Some episodes of constipation can signal serious intestinal or colonic problems. Long-lasting constipation should be referred to a doctor.
  • Laxatives can be too harsh and stressful for your body to take on a regular basis, may cause stomach cramps. Consult your medical provider for guidance before using.
  • Some anti-depressants can cause constipation. Prozac, for instance, is known as being a source of constipation problems for a number of its users.

Article Info

Categories: Intestinal and Digestive Health