8 Non-Laxative Ways to… Ahem… Get the Bowels Moving

Do you find it difficult to… ahem… poo?

Does your abdomen feel a little bloated and a tad sluggish?

Do you feel satisfied and happy after a bowel movement or does it feel like there’s still more to come but it just wont pass?

If you answered yes to the first question, you are not alone. Constipation is more prevalent than you may think, especially in older adults as the bowel and large intestine becomes more sluggish as we age.

Constipation is defined as difficult or infrequent (fewer than 3 times per week) bowel movements and it’s caused by slow movement of fecal material through the large intestine. A low-fibre diet, certain medications, mineral supplements, pregnancy and some disease conditions such as diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome can all cause constipation on some level.

What you want is to have a B.E.E.P every day.

If you struggle with frequent bouts of constipation, don’t despair. Here are 8 non-laxative ways to get your bowels moving:

1. Include legumes

Legumes are great for keeping you regular as they are a fantastic source of dietary fibre. Fibre is vital to add bulk to the stool (poo) by drawing water into the large intestine and making it larger and easier to pass. If your stools are small and look like pellets then that’s a pretty good indication there is insufficient fibre in your diet.

Include baked beans, kidney beans, lentils and chick peas regularly in your diet. These foods are also a great source of carbohydrate and protein. Try baked beans on toast, lentils in a soup or chick peas tossed through a salad.

Other great sources of fibre you can try are nuts, seeds, psyllium husk and LSA (found in the health food section of the supermarket).

2. Drink water

Do not underestimate the importance of water. As mentioned above, fibre draws water into the large intestine to create a bulky stool. If you are dehydrated this can affect the amount of water available to enter the large intestine. Drink 2+ litres of water a day and 1 litre for every hour of exercise you participate in as well.

Being well hydrated will also help you stay mentally focused, improve fine motor skills and improve your general sense of well-being.

Drink water at every meal and snack, sip on a drink bottle while at your desk and choose water over soft drinks and tea or coffee.

3. Eat Fruit

Fruit is a great source of dietary fibre. The recommended fibre intake for adults is 25-35g per day. Fruit contains, on average, 3-4g per piece so two pieces of fruit per day, as per the Australian Dietary Guidelines, will provide up to a 1/3 of your daily fibre requirements.

Specific fruits have more of an effect on bowel movements than others. Try kiwifruit, prunes, apples and apricots. Dried fruit can also have a positive effect on getting the bowels moving but because of their high sugar concentration be mindful of your portion sizes.

4. Choose wholemeal or multigrain

Highly processed foods tend to have little or no fibre, as processing removes fibre from the final product. This means we must actively choose higher fibre options such as wholemeal or multigrain bread, wholemeal pasta, brown rice and high fibre breakfast cereals.

5. Lots of vegetables

Vegetables are a fantastic source of fibre and should always star as the main component of a healthy meal. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends five serves of vegetables every day. 1 serve is about 1/2 cup chopped vegetables, a large handful of salad leaves, a whole tomato or 200g of pumpkin or sweet potato.

Check out this post: 8 Ways to Include More Vegetables in Your Day

6. Have Routine

If you struggle with regular bouts of constipation you may need to develop some healthy, regular bowel habits. This involves setting aside some time every day, preferably at the same time every day, to go to the toilet. This will actually train  your bowel and large intestine to have a movement every day. Your body thrives on routine so eventually it will become a normal, regular part of your day.

The best time of the day is first thing in the morning right after breakfast, but find what works best for you. Generally straight after a meal the bowels are triggered to empty.

7. Relax

The gastrointestinal system may be affected by stress, particularly in susceptible people. Being uptight and trying to rush the process will only cause you to strain and make the whole experience of having a bowel movement quite unpleasant. If you think this is you, I recommend that you squat in front of the toilet (yes I know this sounds embarrassing but no-one will see you:)) and concentrate on your breathing. Breathe through your nose, very slowly, counting as you go. Breathe in for at least 5 slow counts and breathe out for 5 slow counts. A couple of minutes of this will help your bowels relax and you’ll be able to go. Once you feel it coming then just hop on the toilet and you’re away!

8. Exercise daily

Regular exercise is great for so many reasons and one of those just happens to be helping keep you regular.

Activities such as walking or running use the added power of gravity to help get things moving.

What helps keep you regular?

References

  • Wardlaw’s Perspectives in Nutrition 8th Edition, Byrd-Bredbenner, 2009.
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About Kate Freeman
Kate Freeman is a Registered Nutritionist who is passionate about providing honest, simple nutrition advice and doing it in such a way that inspires and motivates you to make positive lifestyle changes to achieve your health and nutritional goals. She's married with 2 children and live in New South Wales, Australia.

2 Responses to 8 Non-Laxative Ways to… Ahem… Get the Bowels Moving

  1. fitterreally says:

    Hi Kate, have started following your blog – also doing the 12wbt at the moment whilst tri training :). Good points in your post. With the squat, a lot of toilets in Asia are actually, eh, “squat toilets” (for lack of a better term). I’ve found Benefibre and probiotics have helped me stay regular. And definitely exercise!

  2. Pingback: bladder infection self treatment Free Interesting Info

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