Everybody poops. It's a small, coveted pleasure that we don't really appreciate until it is gone. And when it does leave us, we feel it in our body and our soul.
Constipation is oftentimes caused by an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. As college students, we are constantly balancing classes, research projects, jobs, internships and maybe a social life. Not only does this balancing act result in stress, but we often make unhealthy substitutes in our diet to help us continue these activities.
If I'm in the library at 12 am, I'm not going back to my dorm for a fresh salad. Fiery Cheetos from the vending machine will always win. Unfortunately, these unhealthy habits lead to unhealthy poop movements. Or no poop at all.
Losing your daily poops becomes obvious. When I'm constipated, I feel bloated, irritable and stressed out. I've dealt with these uncomfortable physical and mental feelings all throughout my freshmen year of college. But instead of shaking my fists at the sky and ranting about my unworthy colon, I tried to heal my pain. With the help of Google and my doctor, I found some reliable ways to deal with my constipation.
Before turning to expensive, addictive laxatives, try out these remedies to aid your digestion—because everyone deserves to be regular.
There’s a reason these tart, summer fruits are one my favorite snacks—and it’s not because of the taste. Berries are low calorie and high fiber. For example, one cup of blueberries contains 84 calories and 3.6 grams of fiber. This is an easier and more natural way to immediately relieve your constipation. Incorporate these into your diet by making this simple berry salad.
This dissolvable metafiber packs 6 grams of fiber in a single serving. And it’s a #1 Doctor Approved way to improve digestion. Simply stir 2 tablespoons into your morning water or orange juice and marvel at the results.
3. Black Coffee
According to a 2015 Washington Post article on constipation, coffee stimulates the distal colon, which speeds up digestion (and is completely unrelated to its caffeine components). This means you can choose decaf or regular coffee and still experience healthy bowel movements.
But remember to keep it black. Adding tons of sugar and dairy to your coffee may seem tasty and Instagrammable in the moment, but it will affect your body negatively in the long run.
MiraLAX is a dissolvable powder that attracts water to the colon, hydrating and softening the stool. This process makes it easier for stool to pass through your colon and also increases total bowel movements.
5. Ground Flax Seed
Ground flaxseed provides you with insoluble and soluble fiber. Whole flaxseed only offers insoluble fiber. When soluble fiber is consumed, it attracts water to itself, forming a gel-like substance and actually slows digestion. Slower digestion ensures that sugar is released and absorbed slowly, regulating blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool, making it easier to pass through the digestive system.
Ginger acts as a natural aid to digestion, while also offering a wide array of medicinal relief. Ginger stimulates saliva, bile and gastric juice production, which speeds up digestion. A strong cup of ginger tea should help heal your constipation woes.
Possibly the most obvious choice on this list, water is the elixir of life and one of the simplest solutions to constipation.
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation. When you deny yourself water, you are denying your colon water. And when your colon doesn’t have water, it absorbs its water from your food waste, ensuring hard stools and difficult passing.
Drink the daily recommended 8 cups (or more, if you exercise) and you may notice immediate changes in your digestive health.
Along with providing vitamins, minerals and other benefits to your health, leafy vegetables are rich in dietary fiber. 10 ounces of frozen spinach contain a whopping 8 grams of fiber.
Make a dank salad, or if you dislike the taste, you can add a handful to a fruit smoothie. The fruit will overpower any remaining veggie flavor.
9. Sweet Potato
Not only are sweet potatoes a delicious and healthy carb, but they provide an excellent source of fiber: 5.94 grams per cup.
Here are some sweet potato recipes to incorporate into your diet. Cook these for your friends and you are knowingly aiding their digestion.
You don’t have to be an experienced yogi or an athletic suburban housewife to experience the digestive benefits of yoga. Usually, these yoga poses are simply an extension of basic stretches.
Yoga helps you relax mentally and physically. It stimulates blood flow and energy to digestive system while also stimulating the muscles responsible for peristalsis.
11. Getting Further Help
If these foods and supplements don't work for you, you might have a more serious digestive issue. In this case, try talking to your regular doctor and they can refer you to a specialist.
Also, because constipation is often caused by stress and anxiety, finding help for your mental health could lead to more regular bowel movements. This could be done by talking to a reliable friend or family member, or by talking to a psychiatric professional.
Healing your mind can heal your body—and learning to deal with your anxiety is a sure way to lead a better, healthier life. A life filled with regular poops.