Author -  Vicki Martin. Nutritionist, Naturopath

Are you spending more time in the toilet than necessary? Constipation generally means a decrease from normal daily regularity to every second day or more; and it is also typical if passing stool is difficult or slow due to hardness or dryness.

Although poor diet is the most common cause of constipation, people should always visit their healthcare practitioner to rule out other possible causes.

Combat constipation the natural way

Water + Fibre: that good old standby – water, along with plenty of fibre – will help to increase the bulk and moisture in your digestive system. This helps to ease the passage of food through your intestines and reduce constipation pain.

  • Fibre-rich foods: increase the fibre in your diet with more vegetables, fruit, beans, bran, ground linseed, and whole grains. Fibre has a broom-like effect in your digestive system, which can help to relieve constipation symptoms.
  • Muesli: Bircher Muesli was originally developed to increase fibre and improve digestive health. Have a bowl each day, topped with fresh fruit and prunes. 
  • Natural supplements: daily Psyllium or flaxseed capsules combined with plenty of water can go a long way toward getting things back to normality. 
  • Exercise: it’s easy to forget exercise in a rushed day. Don’t discount the power of a daily half-hour walk to get everything moving successfully. 
  • What to avoid: caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are not the boost they seem. They can congest your liver and contribute to slowing your digestive system down, which in turn can cause constipation. Herbal teas containing liquorice, and detox or regularity herbal tea combinations are excellent substitutions that can provide quick relief. 
  • Stress and routine: nervous tension and routine changes or travel can create occasional constipation problems. Magnesium supplements or powder can help to reduce anxiety and relieve the digestive system. 
  • Food intolerances: for some people, food intolerance may cause constipation. Common causes can be dairy foods or wheat. Try substituting dairy with goat or soy milk; and try rye, barley or oat grains instead.