If you find yourself having difficulty going to the toilet, there a number of non-medical methods to encourage a dormant gut to relieve you of constipation.
Firstly, if you notice a change in your regular pattern, you shouldn’t start to worry. If you make a few simple changes you are likely to find yourself getting back to normal habits.
You may consider one, or more, of the following to encourage your gut to get back to normal (though we acknowledge prune juice may not be to everyone’s taste).
- Lemon juice – take a glass of water mixed with the juice of half lemon both before bed and when you wake up. You may want to drink with a straw as you could find your teeth becoming sensitive after a regular course of lemon water.
- Olive oil – consuming a teaspoon of olive oil in the morning on an empty stomach can encourage stool to flow through the gut. The oil acts as a lubricant in the digestive system meaning it’s easier for solids to slide through. It also softens up the stool, making it easier to pass.
- Prune juice/dried prunes – one of the more traditional remedies for constipation. Prune juice lacks the fibre of the dried fruit but both are high in sorbitol content, which acts as a laxative.
- Stewed apricots – destone and chop a punnet of apricots in half. Put in a saucepan with 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar, add two tablespoons of water and turn to a low-medium heat. Stew until they begin to soften then take off the heat and leave with a lid on to cool. These are delicious for breakfast and go fantastically with yoghurt and granola.
- Fluids – There are a million and one reasons why it’s great to drink water. Aiming for 2.5 litres/12 glasses a day will ensure you’re refreshing your system and helping to break down any food in the gut. A mug of hot water is great for settling the stomach and encouraging the peristaltic process.
- Hot beverages – whilst we all tend to enjoy a tea or coffee as a refreshment or pick-me-up, they do have a diuretic effect. Diuretics increase the production of urine, meaning we have to visit the loo more than usual. Bare this in mind when drinking coffee to help encourage a movement. Tea and Coffee work in a similar way to hot water in that the heat helps to break down solids.
- Avoid foods with a high-fat content – The body has a hard time processing fat. Especially with Western diets, the bile producing gallbladder (the material that helps break down fat) is stretched to its limit. It’ll do the entire body some good to cut down on the burger and chips.
- Positioning – If you, like me, have felt the urgent need to relieve yourself but arrived at the toilet only to find you can’t go, you may find adjusting your toilet positioning helpful. It’s imperative you stay patient, don’t force it as this could cause damage. Have your knees higher than hips, and keep a straight back. You may find it handy to keep a toilet stool in the loo. When the time comes, tense the stomach to encourage movement, rather than the rectum.
If you do notice a change, and it continues for an extended period of time despite dietary changes, you should see your GP to find out if there is anything they can suggest to help with your situation.
Alternatively, you can leave a message on our medical helpline, and one of our nurses will return your call within 48 hours. Call 0800 031 5412 for the medical helpline.