Fact: You should be pooping every day. If it’s been a while, or you have to push when you do, you might be constipated—and you’d be joining at least 2.5 million Americans who are, too. As common as the condition is, not everyone knows that treating constipation is actually pretty easy (and doesn’t have to involve a laxative!). Here are five easy, healthy ways to relieve constipation, and prevent it from happening in the first place.
The trick to preventing and relieving constipation can be as simple as drinking more! (Water, that is.) We naturally lose water by sweating, going to the bathroom, and even breathing. Replenishing that water helps promote healthy digestion, getting waste moving through your system efficiently. Experts recommend about 11.5 cups of fluids daily for women and 15.5 cups for men in order to maintain hydration.
Use a toilet stool.
Keeping your knees above hip level when pooping is said to help with easier bowel movements. Consider buying a small stool to keep your feet raised when you’re on the toilet in order to help with difficult poops.
Eat more fiber.
Fiber can absorb and bulk up the waste in your gut for more efficient poops, and feed the good bacteria in your GI tract that improve digestion. This makes fiber magical for relieving and preventing constipation.
The FDA recommends 25 grams of dietary fiber a day for women and 38 grams a day for men in order to improve digestion (and poops). You can achieve this by eating fruits and vegetables, as well as by taking a daily fiber supplement. Opt for one made with organic, natural ingredients like Bellway, which is made with psyllium husk fiber and fruit. As with any supplement, confirm with your doctor that it’s right for your daily regimen.
Exercising regularly can help prevent constipation. Aerobic exercises (a.k.a. cardio) like walking and cycling can keep things moving through your GI tract so they don’t get stuck—and leave you stuck on the toilet. They can also help relieve and prevent gas and bloating, which sometimes accompany constipation.
Poop when you need to.
Holding in your poops could make it harder for you to go when you actually want to, leading to constipation. If you find yourself needing to have bowel movements when it’s inconvenient to do so, you can actually train your body to go number 2 at a time that’s better! Your bowels have an internal clock that operates consistently, so if you sit on the toilet every day at a time that works for your daily schedule, you can eventually get your system to poop at that time. (Remember: Don’t force it!)