You folks have no idea how funny Teresa is. Seriously, she is hilarious to me. I told her I was going to do a blog about constipation and her first reaction was to get a very concerned look on her face, lean towards me, lower her voice and ask: “What’s wrong, are you constipated? Are you having trouble?” I assured her I was not “having trouble.” She was questioning me so much that I felt the only way to get her to calm down was to share about my personal pooping schedule. (Apparently nothing is sacred between us.) After being assured I was ok and after I told her the information I planned to share in this blog, she went allllll the way in about pooping. It happened so fast, I didn’t even see it coming. Teresa is a walking encyclopedia about natural cures. I will note what she shared that I had never heard about (and it’s a good one) at the end. Anyway…
In my family we have a running joke. If anyone in the family is sick or has any type of ailment, we joke that we always know what my sister Ann will say is the cause of the malady: “You just need to go to the bathroom. You need a good poop.” We laugh that even if we broke an arm, Ann would tell us it will be all better once we void. Constipation is having hard bowel movements and not having them often enough. They are common and are nothing to laugh at. While I am not a health professional, the following basic information was found on the Medical News Today site: and may be helpful if you want to know more about this condition and more about possible remedies (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com):
“Constipation is an incredibly common problem. It affects around 20% of people in the United States, resulting in 8 million doctor visits per year. People may experience constipation due to the foods they eat or avoid, their lifestyle choices, the medications they take, or the medical conditions they have. For many, the cause of their chronic constipation is unknown. Constipation is characterized by the following symptoms: fewer than three bowel movements per week; hard, dry, or lumpy stools; difficulty or pain when passing stools or having a feeling that not all stool has passed. Constipation can have a serious negative effect on quality of life, as well as on physical and mental health. However, there are many natural ways to help relieve constipation.
Drink more water. Being dehydrated regularly can make a person constipated. When a person is constipated, they might find relief from drinking some carbonated (sparkling) water. This can help them rehydrate and get things moving again. However, drinking carbonated drinks such as sugary soda is not a good idea, as these beverages can have harmful health effects and may make constipation worse.
Eat more fiber. Especially soluble, non-fermentable fiber.
To treat constipation, doctors often tell people to increase their dietary fiber intake. This is because increasing fiber intake increases the bulk and consistency of bowel movements, making them easier to pass. It also helps them pass through the digestive system more quickly. Different types of dietary fiber have different effects on digestion.
There are many different dietary fibers, but in general, they fall into two categories: insoluble fibers and soluble fibers.
Insoluble fibers — present in wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains — add bulk to stools and may help them pass more quickly and easily through the digestive system.
Soluble fibers — present in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and peas, as well as some fruits and vegetables — absorb water and form a gel-like paste, which softens the stools and improves its consistency.
Non-fermentable soluble fibers, such as psyllium, are the best choice for treating constipation Try eating more high fiber foods. Supplementing the diet with soluble non-fermentable fiber, such as psyllium, can also help.
Various research studies have reported that exercise could help improve the symptoms of constipation. Studies have linked sedentary lifestyles with an increased risk of constipation. Because of this, some healthcare experts recommend increasing exercise to get the stool moving. Some studies have reported that although exercise did not always improve the number of times people went to the bathroom, it did reduce some symptoms and improved people’s quality of life. Try doing some gentle exercise — such as going for regular walks, swimming, cycling, or jogging — to see if it helps.
Drink coffee; especially caffeinated coffee. Drinking coffee may help relieve constipation. For some people, consuming coffee can increase the urge to go to the bathroom. This is because coffee stimulates the muscles in the digestive system.
In fact, one 1998 study found that caffeinated coffee can stimulate the gut in the same way that a meal can. This effect was 60% stronger than drinking water and 23% stronger than drinking decaffeinated coffee. Coffee may also contain small amounts of soluble fibers that help prevent constipation by improving the balance of gut bacteria..
Eat probiotic foods or take probiotic supplements.
Probiotics may help prevent chronic constipation. Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria that naturally occur in the gut. People can increase their levels by eating probiotic foods. Some people who have chronic constipation have an imbalance of bacteria in their gut. Consuming more probiotic foods could help improve this balance and prevent constipation. Perhaps try a probiotic supplement. You can also eat more probiotic-rich foods to see if this helps with constipation. Prebiotic foods include: yogurt, sauerkraut or kimchi.
Eat prebiotic foods.
Prebiotics are an indigestible carbohydrate fiber. Prebiotic fibers improve digestive health by feeding the beneficial bacteria in the gut, which boosts probiotics and improves the balance of the gut bacteria. Some prebiotics may help increase the frequency of bowel movements, as well as make stools softer. Prebiotic foods include: chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, bananas, leeks or chickpeas.
Prunes are a natural laxative. People often tout prunes and prune juice as nature’s remedy for constipation — and for good reason. Prunes may be the most accessible natural solution available. In addition to fiber, prunes contain sorbitol. This is a sugar alcohol that has a laxative effect. The effective dosage may be around 50 g, or seven medium prunes, twice per day).
In people with an intolerance to it, eating dairy can cause constipation due to its effect on the gut’s movements. This includes children who are intolerant to cow’s milk protein and adults with lactose intolerance. Constipation is uncomfortable and has a number of potential underlying causes. However, many of these home remedies and natural methods can help.
If constipation persists, please talk to your doctor to identify the cause and find an effective treatment.”
Back to Teresa. Teresa said using a “squatty potty” can be used to aid in pooping. I had never heard of a squatty potty. Apparently, everyone else has because there are many kinds to choose from on Amazon. A squatty potty looks like a stool; you place your feet on the stool to elevate them when you are sitting on the toilet. Teresa says using the squatty potty makes it easier for your body to void. Users of the squatty potty say that just the act of sitting on the toilet and placing their feet on the squatty potty sends a signal to the body that it is now time to poop. If you don’t want to buy a squatty potty you may be able to use a regular stool or sturdy box to elevate your legs. Go to Amazon and check out the height that will be optimal for the elevation.
Teresa added that people who prefer toilets at a higher height may be doing themselves a disservice as the elevated toilet height makes it harder for your bowel to release the fecal matter. When you drink more water, exercise and eat the right stuff, you help your body poop easier. You can actually get your body used to a schedule and as a result, avoid more serious health problems later. Apparently Ann was on to something!