If you’re feeling backed up and bloated lately, you’re not alone. GI experts say changes in routines brought on by the pandemic are causing ‘quarantine constipation,’ even in women who never suffered from irregularity before. The good news: There are easy ways to get your digestive tract back on track.
For 44 percent of folks struggling with constipation, feeling like you need to go but having nothing happen is a major complaint. Luckily, simply propping your feet up on a stool can put an end to the problem. In a University of Ohio study, the strategy eased straining for 90 percent of participants. According to the study authors, elevating your knees above your hips while sitting on the toilet better aligns the lower colon, allowing things to move along easily.
No urge to go?
Most of us up fiber intake when we feel backed up. But a brisk 20-minute walk gets things moving even more effectively, a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology suggests. The reason: Exercise stimulates peristalsis, or rhythmic muscle contractions that move food through the digestive tract.
Hard to pass?
If bowel movements become uncomfortable, try brewed chicory root. The New Orleans favorite has a coffee-like flavor and contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that aids digestion. In a British study, people who added inulin to their diets for three weeks had BMs that were three times softer and 400 percent easier to pass.
When constipation swells your belly, rub on coconut oil. A study in the Journal of the Korean Academy of Nursing found applying gentle abdominal pressure prompts your GI system to move waste along, providing as much relief as an OTC stool softener.
Tense on the toilet?
To tame the “can’t go” anxiety that increases muscle tension and impairs digestion, take 15 deep breaths while on the toilet. University of Michigan experts say deep breathing engages the diaphragm, which enhances relaxation and creates an internal massaging action. No wonder research suggests the simple technique helps double BM success.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.