Health Care

Backed Up? 7 Ways to Poop Better Tomorrow

If you’re among the nearly 19 percent of American who tends to get backed up, these simple tips can get things moving again.

By Jamie Elizabeth Schmid

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squatty-pottyTry a toilet stool
Yes. That’s right, a stool for potty time. Before the shiny porcelain toilet there was only a hole in the ground plus the act of squatting. A 2003 study in the Journal of Digestive Diseases and Sciences found that squatting decreased the time and the amount of strain it took participants to produce a bowel movement. A toilet stool, which you can find at most home goods stores like Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond, simulates the act of squatting for an effective constipation treatment. Are these other toilet mistakes messing you up?

istock/skynesherGet moving
Everyone knows that exercise helps the body perform optimally. But you might not realize that walking in the morning can also decrease symptoms of depression—and there’s a strong link between depression and anxiety and chronic constipation, according to a 2011 article in the journal Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Just a simple 10- to 20-minute walk outside gives your brain fresh air, light, and movement—all of which can decrease your psychological symptoms and serve as a constipation treatment.

istock/emiliozvPop a probiotic
Take a stroll down an aisle of CVS or Walgreens, and you will see 10 if not 20 brands of probiotic capsules. So, what’s all the hype? According to Harvard Health, daily probiotic use may help those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, which contributes to constipation. Think of it as an ultra-concentrated dose of yogurt, full of good bacteria ready to do good work in your gut. Additionally, new research suggests that healthy gut bacteria can have a positive influence throughout your body. (Don’t miss 12 surprising reasons you’re constipated.)

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istock/smailciydemTry a magnesium supplement
How could something as little as a vitamin help you go poop? Well, not only is this mineral great for your bones, but it also works wonders on your digestive system as a constipation treatment. According to Healthline, magnesium citrate relaxes your bowels and pulls water into your intestine, making it easier for stool to pass. Other common vitamins that help you poop include vitamin C, vitamin B5, vitamin B12, and vitamin B1. Here are some signs that you are not getting enough vitamin B12 in your system.

istock/Pavlo_KWatch the simple carbs
Do you ever wonder how a party-size bag of chips affects your digestive system? Well, for one thing, it wreaks havoc on your bowel movements the next day. As a more effective constipation treatment, instead try adding vegetables, complex grains, and “good” fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated—to your diet. According to WebMD, the good fats in olive oil help coat the intestine, making it easier for food to move through.

istock/vgajicStand more
You may have a desk job, but that does not mean you have to sit for 12 hours. Try using a standing desk (or even a standing elliptical!). Your digestive system will thank you by behaving better. In fact, according to Smithsonian, standing up at your day job reduces your risk of obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other metabolic problems. Bloated? You’ll wish you knew these de-bloating tips sooner.

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istock/_vgajic_bhofaDrink lemon water in the morning
Squeezing fresh lemon juice in a glass of cold water is a tried-and-true method to fight bowel backup. The cold water and the citrus of the lemon both work to jump-start your digestive system and treat constipation. Drink this concoction twice a day, and you will feel traffic moving again along the highways of your GI system.

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