For most people, constipation is about as pleasant as having a tooth pulled. It’s something we would prefer to avoid.

Not only does it feel uncomfortable, but it can lead to more serious conditions such as hemorrhoids or impacted stool.

It’s best not to use laxatives if at all possible, because our bodies can get used to them to the point where we can’t function without them.

Often constipation simply means we need to drink more water, eat more healthfully, do some exercise, go to the bathroom as soon as we feel the urge rather than putting it off, or do all of the above.

However, there can also be underlying causes.

Constipation can be caused or exacerbated by eating dairy, especially if you’re sensitive to it. Other foods that can lead to constipation include white rice, meat, bananas, carrots, chocolate, and high-fat foods.

Other culprits can include depression, hypothyroidism, nerve damage from diabetes, use of supplements such as calcium and iron, overuse of laxatives, and use of drugs such as antidepressants, diuretics, antihistamines, and painkillers.

Taking antacids can also be a factor because of the calcium they contain, so if you have acid reflux, you’re better off dealing with it naturally rather than taking antacids.

A lot of people report improvements in acid reflux when eating my Micronized Purple Rice (MPR) powder.  MPR made a huge difference for me. I used to have acid reflux so bad that it caused a serious esophageal problem, but today I am symptom free.

Remember that MPR does not heal or cure anything, though — it is a natural super food that nourishes the cells, helping to improve many if not most conditions.

MPR is processed in low-temperature water, so it’s a raw vegan food, meaning the enzymes are still intact. That may be why it seems to help with digestion. Our friendly gut flora appear to like it, too. Many of our customers report improved digestion!

Now, here are 11 gentle, effective, healthful things you can do to stay regular or treat occasional mild constipation.

1. Drink lemon water

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I love to start every morning with a quart of room temperature lemon water (or sometimes I drink it warm, like a tea), before I have my MPR. But did you know it can help prevent constipation?

The citric acid in lemon juice stimulates digestion and even helps to clean out the colon. Just one more reason to start your day with lemon water.

2. Stay hydrated

That quart of lemon water every morning also gives you a good jump on your hydration for the day.

When it comes to preventing constipation, staying hydrated is crucial, especially if you eat a lot of fiber. This is important for helping your body flush out the cellular wastes that are part of the healing process, too.

3. Eat high-fiber foods

Basically anything plant-based is going to contain fiber. We need both soluble and insoluble fibers, and both help with constipation. Just be sure to always drink plenty of water, or the fiber may bind you up rather than cleaning you out.

Beans, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are all high in fiber and thus help to keep you regular.

4. Use aloe vera

If you are lucky to have aloe growing in your garden like I do, you can just break off a leaf and squeeze out the gel. That’s the best form of aloe for helping gently relieve constipation.

But if you don’t have an aloe plant growing nearby, you can buy aloe gel or juice by the gallon at the health food store. Look for the kind that says “inner filet” and has no preservatives.

5. Eat probiotic and pre-biotic foods

I wrote about keeping your gut flora healthy and happy a while back.

Having a well-balanced gut microbiome is a big help when it comes to preventing or overcoming constipation. Rather than taking probiotics out of a bottle, though, it’s best to consume probiotic foods such as raw sauerkraut, and PRE biotic foods such as sunchoke, jicama, garlic, onion, and asparagus.

6. Use olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has been a staple in the Mediterranean diet for centuries, and for good reason.

This ultra-healthy oil is wonderful drizzled on salads and cooked veggies. Just be sure you don’t heat it, because it can break down. I only use it raw, never cooked.

EVOO protects the GI tract and stimulates bile production, which helps with digestion. This helps keep things moving through you, especially if you consume it daily as part of a healthy whole-foods diet. It’s anti-inflammatory, too!

To help prevent constipation, mix one tablespoon of EVOO with one tablespoon of lemon juice and drink in the morning, 15 or 20 minutes after your Micronized Purple Rice powder.

7. Get moving! 

As I mentioned in last week’s article about internal cleansing, people who exercise have far fewer toxins in their tissues than those who don’t.

Part of the reason for that is that exercise moves fecal matter out of the colon more quickly. The less time partially digested food spends in the colon, the less water is pulled out of the feces, and this results in softer stools and faster elimination.

8. Have colon hydrotherapy

High colonics or enemas can also be highly beneficial for constipation.

You need to go to a professional for colon hydrotherapy, but enemas can be done at home. If you have serious constipation issues, colon hydrotherapy is your best bet.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, my friend Bonnie, who’s a hydrotherapist, uses Micronized Purple Rice powder in her colonics.

9. Drink coffee

Many people love to start their day with a cuppa joe, and it can be good for helping with constipation, too. Coffee stimulates the digestive system, but don’t overdo it, or it can have the opposite effect.

This is because coffee is also a diuretic, meaning it can dehydrate you, which can lead to constipation. A cup or two in the morning helps keep you regular, especially if you like to blend it with coconut oil. But don’t have more than that.

10. Use Epsom salts

You can take Epsom salts internally (with warm water) to help with constipation, and taking baths with it helps as well. It is gentler on your system than stimulant laxatives. Just be sure to get unscented.

Using Epsom salts internally increases the amount of water in your intestines, which softens the stool. Follow the directions on the box, which should result in a bowel movement in about half an hour to six hours.

Bathing with Epsom salts also helps with constipation. Your body will soak some magnesium in through your skin, and this can help produce a bowel movement.

11. Try blackstrap molasses

Due to its magnesium content, blackstrap molasses can have the same effect as epsom salts — making it a gentle laxative.

Whenever you get a touch of constipation, just mix a teaspoon of molasses in a cup of warm water and drink.

What is your favorite home remedy for constipation? Let me know in the comments below.