By:  Dr. Yousef Sadat-Nejad ND – Restore’s Digestive Health ND

As a Naturopathic Doctor, I understand that achieving regular, healthy bowel movements is crucial for your overall well-being. 

Constipation, which occurs when bowel movements are less frequent or when stools are hard and difficult to pass, can be quite uncomfortable and stressful.

The good news is that most people can find relief through natural methods.

Here are my top recommendations for promoting regular bowel movements and relieving constipation:

1. Increase Your Dietary Fibre

One of the first steps to relieving constipation is to boost your dietary fibre intake. Fibre is essential for digestion and overall health. Adults should aim for 22 to 34 grams of fibre daily, depending on age and sex.

Tip: Dosage matter, aim for 30g of fibre per day 

There are two types of fibre to include in your diet:

  • Soluble Fibre: This type of fibre absorbs water, forming a gel-like substance that slows digestion. Soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol and improve heart health. You can find it in foods like oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and certain fruits and vegetables.
  • Insoluble Fibre: Unlike soluble fibre, insoluble fibre doesn’t absorb water but adds bulk to your stool, helping it pass more quickly through the digestive tract. This can alleviate constipation. Foods rich in insoluble fiber include wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains.

Tip: Leave the skin on fruits and vegetables to increase your fibre intake naturally.

2. Consider Fibre Supplements

While it’s best to get your fibre from whole foods, sometimes that’s not possible. In such cases, fibre supplements can be a helpful addition. Popular supplements include Metamucil (psyllium), All-Bran (wheat bran), and Citrucel (methylcellulose). 

These supplements can promote regular bowel movements, but remember to stay well-hydrated to avoid gas and bloating.

Consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best fibre supplement for your needs.

3. Stay Hydrated

Hydration is key to preventing and relieving constipation. Drinking enough water and other fluids helps fibre work more effectively, making stools softer and easier to pass. Aim for about four to six cups of plain water daily, though individual needs can vary.

Good fluid choices include water, naturally sweetened fruit juices, vegetable juices, and clear soups. Staying hydrated supports your overall health and helps maintain regular bowel movements.

4. Regular Physical Activity

Engaging in regular physical activity is another crucial step to promoting healthy bowel movements. Exercise helps stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles, which helps move stool through the digestive tract more efficiently. Activities like walking, jogging, yoga, and even light stretching can make a significant difference.

Tip: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Even a daily walk can help keep your digestive system functioning smoothly.

5. Osmotic Laxatives

If dietary changes, hydration, and physical activity aren’t enough, osmotic laxatives can help. These products, such as milk of magnesia, MiraLax, and magnesium citrate, draw water into the large intestine to soften and loosen stool.

6. Consider Stimulant Laxatives

Stimulant laxatives, containing senna, cascara, work by causing the intestines to contract more frequently or forcefully, helping move stool through the colon. Use these only as directed and for short periods to avoid dependency and side effects.

When to See Your Doctor

If home treatments don’t provide relief, it’s time to consult your doctor. Persistent constipation may require prescription medications or other treatments. 

In severe cases, such as fecal impaction, a healthcare professional may need to remove the hard stool manually.

Promoting regular bowel movements through a balanced diet, proper hydration, regular physical activity, and appropriate use of supplements or medications can significantly improve your digestive health.

 As a Naturopathic Doctor, I encourage you to adopt these natural strategies and consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and treatment.

By following these recommendations, you can achieve proper bowel movements and enjoy a healthier, more comfortable life. If you have any questions or need further guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out. Your well-being is my priority.