Relieving Constipation: What To Drink?

what can you drink for constipation

Drinking enough water is essential to prevent constipation. Water helps the body absorb nutrients and keeps things moving in the digestive tract. Dehydration can lead to hard, dry, and lumpy stools, making them difficult to pass.

In addition to water, there are several drinks that can help relieve constipation. These include prune juice, apple juice, pear juice, coffee, tea, and a drink made with water, lemon juice, and chia seeds.

Prune juice is a popular choice as it contains sorbitol, which softens stools, and fibre, which adds bulk. Apple and pear juices contain sorbitol and have a gentle laxative effect. Coffee and tea, especially caffeinated options, can stimulate the bowels. The internal shower drink, containing water, lemon juice, and chia seeds, is a trending beverage endorsed by a gastroenterologist. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fibre, and their gel-forming property when mixed with water is beneficial for the gut.

Along with these drinks, consuming fluids like hot water, clear soups, and yoghurt or kefir can also aid in constipation relief.

Characteristics Values
Water Staying hydrated is important for relieving constipation.
Carbonated water May be more effective than tap water at relieving constipation.
Coffee Caffeine stimulates the muscles in the digestive system.
Prune juice Contains sorbitol, which has a laxative effect.
Apple juice Has a gentle laxative effect.
Pear juice Contains more sorbitol than apple juice.
Chia seeds High in fiber and absorb a lot of water.
Lemon juice Encourages bowel movements.
Olive oil Acts as a lubricant in the digestive system.
Senna tea A stimulant laxative that helps the digestive tract contract.
High-fibre foods Promote good digestion and reduce constipation.
Probiotics Improve gut health and soften stools.

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Drink more water

Drinking water is a simple yet effective way to ease constipation. Water is important for your digestion and can help get things moving again. Water keeps food moving through your intestines, and it keeps your intestines smooth and flexible.

Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation. When dehydrated, the large intestine soaks up water from your food waste, making it harder to pass stools. Staying well-hydrated can prevent this from happening.

Drinking plenty of water can help to ease or resolve the symptoms of constipation and prevent it from occurring in the first place. It is recommended that women get 9 cups of fluids a day, and men 13 cups. However, this also includes fluids from food. In general, 8 cups of water a day is a reasonable goal for healthy people.

Carbonated water appears to be more effective for constipation relief than plain water. Some studies have found sparkling water to be more effective than tap water at relieving constipation, including in people with indigestion and chronic idiopathic constipation.

However, drinking carbonated drinks such as sugary sodas is not a good idea, as these beverages can have harmful health effects and may make constipation worse.

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Try prune juice

Prune juice is a well-known, traditional remedy for constipation. It is also one of the most popular juices to relieve constipation. Prunes and prune juice are rich in fibre and contain sorbitol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that acts as a laxative. Sorbitol passes through the gut undigested, drawing water into the gut and stimulating a bowel movement. This helps to bulk up stools and soften them, making them easier to pass.

Prune juice is also a good source of vitamin C and iron. Each 8-ounce (256-gram) glass of prune juice contains about 2.6 grams of fibre, which is about 9% of your daily recommended intake.

Prunes are also a good source of fibre and sorbitol. A 2022 study suggests that prunes should be considered a first-line therapy for chronic constipation. However, people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may want to avoid prunes as sugar alcohols are high-FODMAP foods, which can trigger symptoms.

If you decide to try prune juice to relieve constipation, remember that a small amount may be all you need. In general, aim to drink eight or more cups of liquid each day to help stay regular.

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Drink coffee

Coffee is a popular beverage worldwide, and it may have a laxative effect on some people. It contains caffeine, a stimulant that increases energy levels and may trigger contractions in the colon and intestinal muscles, leading to an easier bowel movement.

How Coffee Helps with Constipation

Coffee stimulates the muscles in the digestive system, and a 1998 study found that caffeinated coffee can stimulate the gut in a similar way to a meal. This effect was 60% stronger than drinking water and 23% stronger than drinking decaffeinated coffee. Coffee may also contain small amounts of soluble fibres that help prevent constipation by improving the balance of gut bacteria.

Who May Be Affected by Coffee?

The laxative effect of coffee is not limited to those who consume caffeinated coffee, as decaffeinated coffee has been found to have the same or an even greater effect on bowel movements. This indicates that other compounds or factors are at play. Chlorogenic acids and N-alkanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamides are two compounds of interest, as they stimulate the production of stomach acid, which helps move food through the gut more quickly.

Coffee and the Gastrocolic Reflex

The simple act of drinking coffee or any other beverage in the morning stimulates a defecation reflex known as the gastrocolic reflex, which helps jump-start the bowels whenever you eat or drink. While there is no scientific evidence that this is the reason for bowel movements after drinking coffee, it may be a contributing factor.

Coffee and Dehydration

It has been argued that coffee cannot be a laxative because it is a diuretic, meaning it increases urination and fluid loss, which could lead to dehydration and constipation. However, a 2014 study found that moderate coffee intake does not lead to dehydration and may even help people meet their daily fluid intake requirements.

Coffee Enemas

Coffee enemas are a type of colon cleanse that involves pumping a combination of cooled, freshly brewed coffee and water into the colon via an enema bag and then releasing it. While there is no evidence that coffee enemas detoxify the body, they may relieve constipation. However, they can be risky and may cause electrolyte imbalances and increase the risk of dehydration.

Precautions

While coffee may help relieve constipation for some people, it is important to note that it can also have a diuretic effect, leading to increased urination and fluid loss. Additionally, excessive consumption of caffeinated drinks may cause loose stools or diarrhoea. It is recommended to limit coffee intake or switch to half caffeinated and half decaffeinated coffee if you experience diarrhoea after drinking coffee.

Coffee contains caffeine and other compounds that may stimulate bowel activity and increase the urge to have a bowel movement. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee can have a laxative effect, and adding milk or cream may further increase this effect, especially for those with lactose intolerance. However, it is important to note that coffee may not have the same impact on everyone, and individual factors such as bowel sensitivity and lactose intolerance may play a role.

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Try lemon water

Lemon water is a great way to help relieve constipation. It is a cleansing way to encourage bowel movements. Try taking a glass of water mixed with the juice of half a lemon before bed and when you wake up. You may want to drink it through a straw as lemon water can cause tooth sensitivity.

Lemon water is a good way to stay hydrated, which is important for relieving constipation. Dehydration is a common cause of constipation. When a person becomes dehydrated, their intestines cannot add enough water to stools, resulting in hard, dry, and lumpy stools that are difficult to pass. Lemon water can help to ease or resolve these symptoms.

Lemon water is also a good way to get some extra vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties. Vitamin C helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and supports the immune system.

In addition to lemon water, drinking other fluids can also help relieve constipation. Aiming for 2.5 litres/12 glasses of water a day will ensure you're refreshing your system and helping to break down food in the gut.

If you are experiencing constipation, it is important to make sure you are getting enough fibre in your diet. Fibre adds bulk to stools, making them easier to pass. It also supports the microbiome, the healthy balance of bacteria in the digestive tract, and helps with gut motility, the coordination of muscle contractions in the intestines that push food along the digestive process.

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Consume more fibre

Dietary fibre is the name given to the non-digestible carbohydrates found in plants. Fibre is present in all plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Fibre is usually categorised into two groups, based on solubility: insoluble and soluble fibre. Insoluble fibre, found in wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains, adds bulk to stools and may help them pass more quickly and easily through the digestive system. Soluble fibre, found in oat bran, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and some fruits and vegetables, absorbs water and forms a gel-like paste, which softens the stools and improves their consistency.

Increasing your fibre intake can help with constipation by increasing the bulk and consistency of bowel movements, making them easier to pass. It also helps them pass through the digestive system more quickly. A 2016 review found that 77% of people with chronic constipation benefited from supplementing with fibre.

However, it's important to note that increasing fibre intake can sometimes make constipation worse. This is because different types of fibre have different effects on digestion, and some people with constipation may already be consuming a lot of fibre. Additionally, some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may find that high-fibre foods worsen their symptoms, as many of these foods are also high in FODMAPs.

If you want to try increasing your fibre intake to help with constipation, it's best to do so gradually, as dramatically increasing your intake over a short period could cause unwanted side effects like pain, gas, and bloating. The recommended daily fibre intake is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.

Some high-fibre foods that may be particularly effective for constipation include:

  • Flax seeds: Start with 1 teaspoon per day and gradually increase the dose up to a maximum of 2 tablespoons throughout the day. You can put them in a drink or sprinkle them on yogurt, salad, cereal, or soup.
  • Prunes: These are high in fibre and contain sorbitol, a natural laxative. The effective dosage is thought to be around 50 grams (or 7 medium-sized prunes) twice a day. However, if you have IBS, you should probably avoid prunes.
  • Fruits and vegetables with skins
  • Whole wheat bread, cereals, and pasta: To get the most nutrients, eat them raw or lightly cooked.
  • Wheat bran: This is the hard outer layer of the wheat kernel and is rich in insoluble fibre.
  • Beans, lentils, and peas: A 2017 study found that 100 grams of cooked pulses provides around 26% of the daily fibre intake recommended in the US.
  • High-fibre fruits: Kiwifruit, apples, pears, grapes, blackberries, and raspberries.
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Frequently asked questions

Foods with natural laxative properties include probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, as well as high-fibre foods like kiwifruit, vegetables, and pulses.

Drinking plenty of liquids, getting up and moving, and taking appropriate medication can all help to remedy constipation quickly.

Drinking plenty of water is essential to helping fibre work its magic. Other drinks that may help include prune juice, apple juice, coffee, tea, and warm or hot fluids.

According to a gastroenterologist, a drink containing water, two tablespoons of chia seeds, and lemon juice can help with constipation due to its high fibre content and hydrating qualities.

Constipation may refer to fewer than three bowel movements in a week. Severe constipation may refer to fewer or no bowel movements. It may also be accompanied by rectal bleeding, an inability to pass gas, vomiting, fever, and back pain.

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