If you are one of the millions Americans who suffers the pain, irritability and fatigue associated with hard stools and infrequent trips to the bathroom, you will be relieved to know you may be able to drink your way to constipation relief.
According to WebMD, “dehydration is one of the most common causes of chronic constipation.” Drinking plenty of fluids is critical to healthy digestion. Food makes its way to your large intestine and if you are dehydrated it soaks up all the water, not leaving any to mix with the food waste there resulting in hard-formed stools that are difficult to pass.
Having adequate fluids in the body also keeps your GI tract supple, specifically your colon, so it can contract smoothly to expel waste from the body. When you don’t get enough to drink you might find yourself straining on the throne to no avail.
How Much Fluid for Constipation Relief?
The amount of fluids you need to drink each day varies greatly from men to women, your activity level, age and diet.
Since the 1940s we’ve been told to drink at least eight cups of water per day. That’s not necessarily true for everyone. Children certainly do not need that much, but an athlete in training will probably need much more than that.
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Lucky for us, we have a thirst mechanism that prompts us to drink when our bodies need it. Also, there are physical signs that you are dehydrated or over-hydrated. Dry lips can be an indicator of dehydration. Nearly clear urine and the need to go frequently means you are probably overdoing it.
To avoid constipation due to dehydration, you should get in the habit of sipping water throughout the day and eating fruits and vegetables with high water content. The added benefit of getting some of your fluids from your diet means you will also be getting a healthy dose of fiber, which also helps with constipation relief.
The Fiber Water Relief Plan
It’s already been well established by the medical community that eating high fiber foods is crucial to maintaining healthy bathroom habits.
However, eating a lot of fiber-rich foods is not enough. Without proper water levels in the intestines, your body cannot break down the fiber through a process called fermentation. According to a paper published by the Duran Clinical Nutrition Centre; “Fermentation, the anaerobic breakdown of carbohydrates, is an important but hardly recognized part of human digestive physiology. It has a direct effect on salt and water absorption from the colon, on bowel habits, on the excretion of toxic substances…”
Without adequate fluid intake, you will be unable to properly form stools that are easily expelled from the body.
Fiber can help. There are two types: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can be easily broken down and absorbed by the body when it mixes with water. It forms a gel-like paste that softens stool making them easier to pass out of the body.
Insoluble fiber cannot be dissolved in water. But it attracts much needed fluid to the large intestine, so it’s important to have plenty of both in your diet to find constipation relief.
It’s an easy way to find constipation relief: drink more water. Sodas, coffee, and juice are fine in moderation, but good old-fashioned H2O is your digestive system’s best bet for avoiding constipation.