It is normal and natural for the human body to have a bowel movement at least once per day. If you find you are constipated (e.g., sometimes go a full day without a bowel movement), once per day is a good target to aim at.
While some sources claim that people should have two to three (or more!) bowel movements per day, everyone’s body is different, and this may not be feasible or normal for everyone. One good substantial bowel movement per day should be enough. Of course, if you have more, great job.
In Ayurveda, those of the Vata constitution will find themselves most likely to be constipated. This is partly due to the cold and dry aspects of Vata. Many Vata people will find that their stools are difficult to pass, hard, and smaller than expected. They may also have serious problems with constipation.
Following these tips should help you to ease your constipation. I personally used to have a lot of trouble going each day, but through use of these strategies and practices, I have become far more regular, and feel much better as a result.
1. Regular morning Routine (wake up at same time, go through same routine, etc.)
This point is one that I see is not sufficiently emphasized by almost any sources. Having a regular morning routine, waking up at a good time, and giving yourself a regular time and place (e.g. your bathroom, or even work bathroom etc.) to take your bowel movement, is extremely important.
The body finds it easiest to move the bowels at around 8:00 am, or in the hours preceding or following that. So you will want to wake up before 8:00 am (in Ayurveda, they recommend waking up by 6:00 am or earlier, but obviously do whatever works best with your schedule), to give yourself time to target your bowel movement at the time your body feels most suited for it.
2. Triphala (Ayurvedic Supplement)
The Ayurvedic supplement known as Triphala is an extremely healthy, natural, and effective way to produce a bowel movement. You should take it first thing in the morning with your warm water and lemon juice.
We find the most effective brand to be Organic India Triphala capsules. At least 2 of these capsules per morning (possibly more, if needed) should make you regular, and make your stools much healthier and easier to pass.
A great thing about Triphala is that it is all natural, made from the extracts of three traditional herbs/fruits, and you can really take as much as you like without any negative effect on the body (unlike commercial laxatives which can be damaging in the long term).
3. Warm Water and Lemon Juice
First thing in the morning, before consuming anything else, you should prepare warm water and mix with the juice of a squeezed lemon, or you can simply buy packaged lemon juice (usually comes in little bottles or even larger bottles). Make sure it is 100% real lemon juice, with no sugar added. It should be very sour. You will be mixing it with water, to whatever taste is comfortable for you. You will want to consume several glasses of this lemon juice, at least 250 mL (one cup), but could be several cups if this is necessary for you. With this lemon juice, you will want to take your Triphala capsules or powder (capsules are recommended, as the powder tastes very, very strong).
This is one that we do not often see recommended. But it can be helpful for energy, vitamins, minerals, a protein source, and also for helping to move the bowels. Take about 1 to 3 grams of spirulina, either in tablets or in powder, either with or directly after your warm water, lemon juice, and triphala.
5. Throughout the day: Plenty of fiber
Eat plenty of fiber throughout the day. High fibre foods include practically all vegetables, dried fruits (e.g. prunes), and things like bran.
6. Throughout the day: Plenty of water (not ice cold!)
Having plenty of water is very useful for keeping things moving through your digestion system. Drink lots of water throughout the day. Water with lemon is doubly effective, and even more effective is warm water.
If you routinely drink ice cold water, this may be a little-known source of your constipation. Ice cold water has been found to temporarily paralyze the muscles responsible for peristalsis and colon emptying, and this stops your bowels from moving.
If you like cold water, try moving to room temperature water instead. You are likely to immediately notice an improvement in your regularity.
7. Super-natural laxative: Prunes
Prunes (or Prune juice) act as a kind of natural laxative, as they contain sorbitol, which helps absorb back water into the colon, to help with bowel movements. Eating just 3 to 5 prunes over the course of the day (or more, if required), should definitely help your regularity.
Prunes may not be the solution to eat first thing, on an empty stomach, particularly for vata types or those with diabetes-like symptoms, as they are likely to spike your blood sugar. Save first thing in the morning for that large amount of water with triphala, lemon, and possibly spirulina.
Save the prunes preferably until a bit later, until after you have consumed either a decent amount of spirulina, or preferably also some kind of protein, which will slow down their digestion and release the natural sugars of the prunes into your blood in a more slow and controlled manner.
8. Eat plenty of Fibre throughout the day, in the form of Vegetables.
Green Vegetables are the healthiest source of all the nutrients your body needs, including the fibre to keep you regular. Eat plenty of these throughout the day to bulk up stools, making you more likely to pass a good stool easily the next morning.
9. Digestive Enzymes
These can be taken if you are experiencing indigestion after meals. They will help your digestion to run more smoothly. Supplements like Triphala can also be taken after meals to have a similar effect. With good quality triphala, you should viscerally feel your body heating up and passing the food through your system more properly.
Many of the good bacteria in our gut may have been depleted by antibiotics taken in years long past, or overwhelmed by an excess of starchy or yeasty foods or sugars that are not good for gut bacteria. Taking probiotic supplements daily should help with this, bringing gut bacteria back into proper alignment, and ultimately improving regularity.
If you find you are constipated, you may need more exercise. Physical activity helps clean toxins from the body, and get circulation, digestion, and all bodily functions moving properly. Go for a run, ride a bike, do weight training, yoga, play sports, or whatever you prefer to get moving and get your excretion moving as well.
12. Reduce Stress
This is a major one that is often overlooked. Many people experience constipation as a result of stress, anxiety, or overwork or over-busyness in their lives. Try toning down your schedule if possible, schedule some personal time to yourself, or try relaxation techniques like meditation or going for gentle walks, when you have time.