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If it’s been a few days since your last bowel movement, you’re probably getting a bit uncomfortable. How can you get things moving again without resorting to a dependency on medication? 

natural remedies for constipation and better gut health

Constipation, characterized by infrequent bowel movements or difficulty passing stool, is a common gastrointestinal complaint affecting people of all ages. While over-the-counter and prescription medications are often used to manage constipation, many individuals seek natural remedies to promote regularity and alleviate discomfort. From a medical standpoint, natural treatments can offer effective relief with fewer side effects. In this article, we'll explore several evidence-based natural treatments for constipation.

Tips To Improve Constipation Naturally for Better Gut Health

Few things are more frustrating than feeling the urge but being unable to go. Kick your digestive system into high gear with these constipation relief methods.

Eat Plenty of Fibre

Increasing dietary fibre intake is one of the most recommended strategies for relieving constipation. Fibre adds bulk to stool, making it easier to pass through the digestive tract. It also helps regulate bowel movements by promoting regularity. However, there are two kinds of fibre, and you may not know which one to choose.

Soluble fibre softens stools and improves their consistency, while insoluble fibre bulks up stools and might help them pass through your gut more easily. You’ll find insoluble fibre in whole grains, vegetables, and wheat bran. Soluble fibre is found in vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and peas.

Both types of fibre can relieve constipation, but non-fermentable water-soluble fibre (such as partially hydrolyzed guar gum or acacia gum) is typically best. That’s because insoluble fibre can worsen constipation in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic idiopathic constipation.

Load Up on Water

When was the last time you grabbed a glass of water? If you don’t sip much H20 throughout the day, your lack of hydration could be causing constipation.

According to experts, women should drink at least 2.7 L of water daily, while men should have at least 3.6 L daily. Adequate hydration is essential for maintaining healthy bowel function. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day softens stool, making it easier to pass. Dehydration is the most common contributor to constipation, so it's important to consume an adequate amount of fluids, particularly water. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water daily, and limit the intake of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which can have a dehydrating effect.


Regular physical activity promotes bowel motility and can help alleviate constipation. Exercise stimulates the muscles of the digestive tract, facilitating the movement of stool through the intestines. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming can all contribute to improved bowel function.

Try a Probiotic

Think of probiotics as microscopic good guys that can give your gut a helping hand. They play a crucial role in supporting digestive health and may help alleviate constipation through several mechanisms:

1. Regulation of Gut Microbiome:

Probiotics help maintain a diverse and balanced population of bacteria in the gut. An imbalance in gut bacteria, known as dysbiosis, can contribute to digestive issues, including constipation. By restoring balance to the microbiome, probiotics promote optimal digestive function.

2. Enhanced Gut Motility:

Probiotics may stimulate the muscles of the digestive tract, promoting bowel movements and improving gut motility. Certain strains of probiotics have been shown to increase the frequency and consistency of stools, making them easier to pass.

3. Production of Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs):

Probiotics can ferment dietary fiber in the colon, leading to the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate. SCFAs play a crucial role in maintaining gut health by nourishing the cells lining the colon, promoting water absorption, and enhancing bowel motility.

4. Regulation of Immune Function:

The gut microbiome plays a key role in regulating immune function, and probiotics can modulate immune responses in the gastrointestinal tract. By promoting a healthy immune system, probiotics may help reduce inflammation and improve overall gut health, which can contribute to alleviating constipation.

5. Reduction of Intestinal Transit Time:

Probiotics may help decrease the time it takes for food to pass through the digestive tract, reducing the risk of constipation. By enhancing intestinal transit time, probiotics promote more efficient digestion and elimination of waste.

6. Alleviation of Stress-Induced Constipation:

Stress can disrupt gut function and contribute to constipation. Probiotics have been shown to have potential benefits for mental health, including reducing stress and anxiety. By supporting a healthy gut-brain axis, probiotics may help alleviate stress-induced constipation.

These microorganisms colonize the intestines and support a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome. Probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, can be incorporated into the diet to enhance digestive health. Additionally, probiotic supplements are available and may be beneficial for individuals experiencing chronic constipation (but not all probiotics are indicated here, so make sure to discuss the right strains with your Naturopathic Doctor).

Bowel Retraining

When you do get the urge to go, don’t ignore it. Ignoring that urge has been shown to worsen constipation, and if the problem persists for too long, you might need medical help.

Instead, give yourself a little extra time in the morning, allowing yourself to relax and go. Doing this will increase the likelihood of consistent bowel movements.

I’ve tried all of this, what next?

If you’ve exhausted the prior solutions and they just don't seem to be working for you, it might be time to get some help. Common underlying causes of constipation, like SIBO, bacterial dysbiosis, thyroid disorders, intestinal permeation (leaky gut), or a complex motility disorder may be at the root of your issues, and additional testing may be required. 

Naturopathic Care can help you investigate for these concerns, and get to the root cause of your constipation. To learn more about natural support for your digestion, or preventative strategies to optimize your gut health, contact Dr. Holmberg, Toronto Naturopathic Doctor at (647) 351-7282, or visit us online here.

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