One way to get rid of constipation is to soften the stool. The easiest and most natural way to soften your stool is to drink lots of water. There is some confusion as to what lots of water is. Some people recommend 8 glasses, but it can be hard to take that much especially if you are in a temperate climate or if you take lots of other beverages. The best way to measure if you are drinking enough water is to see how soft your stool is with your current intake. There are also other milder indicators: if you wake up in the night to urinate, it’s a sign that you are drinking lots of water – enough to help with all your vital functions and have some left over as waste.
The next best way to soften stool is to eat roughage. Roughage or fibre binds the stool, increasing its mass and forcing it to take in more water. Your consumption has to be consistent to be helpful. Incorporate fibrous fruit and vegetable into your diet so that you take a portion every day.
There are other natural stool softeners that you can use:
Senna is a herbal stool softener that works for many people who have constipation and difficulty with hard stools. It works by reducing the amount of water that waste looses while it is in the colon through the colon wall. This way, it keeps your stool soft. It’s also very effective because it will stimulate intestinal muscles so that you can pass stools faster.
This one is classified under mineral oils that help to soften stool. It works by coating the intestinal lining so that minimal water is lost during digestion. Castor oil, and indeed any other mineral oil stool softeners, should be handled with care. Take it as prescribed and wait for it to work – don’t get tempted to increase the dosage. It can have bad effects. You can completely coat your stomach lining such that the necessary enzymes for breaking down food are not produced. This can result in diarrhoea and dehydration. If you are pregnant, do not take a mineral oil stool softener of any kind. It can induce premature labour. Always see your doctor for recommended cures for pregnancy related constipation.
As well as being highly nutritious, pulses like beans are an excellent way to soften stool. They have high fibre content, and they work to prevent too much water from being absorbed when stool is at the colon. There are many different kinds of pulses that you can incorporate into your diet. Never go for canned – anything that would be of value nutrition-wise has already been taken out, and they are also usually loaded with chemicals to give them a longer shelf life.
There are many different kinds of nuts as well. It’s not very clear how they work to soften the stool, but it might that they work by inducing thirst. If you notice, after eating a few nuts, you get thirsty. If you eat them regularly, your body will constantly demand re-hydration. Nuts are also full of healthy fats, and these could work to coat the stomach lining as well to prevent loss of too much water.
A commonly asked question is what the difference is between a stool softener and a laxative: a stool softener works t soften stool for easier expulsion. Laxatives induce a bowel movement.
You should resort to laxative use only if you have tried stool softeners and they haven’t worked. Laxatives are not meant for long term use as well, so you might want to stick with stool softeners if you suffer constipation often.