Few people like to talk about matters of the bathroom, but when it comes to constipation, it’s something most people understand all too well. As many as 80 percent of people will experience constipation at some point in their lives. Here are eight common reasons you can’t poop and how to fix them.
1. Disruption in Routine
Have you ever gone on vacation only to discover that certain things refused to budge once you arrived? It’s common for disruptions in your routine to stop you up. The body operates on a schedule and likes predictability, so when your normal routine changes, it can throw a tantrum. If possible, try to keep some things the same, like your sleep schedule, eating habits and exercise patterns.
2. Low Potassium
Do you ever become constipated after periods of sweating or salty meals? If so, low potassium may be the culprit. This electrolyte mineral is essential for bowel motility, and it’s depleted by perspiration and sodium. When this happens, try eating a banana, baked potato or some melon to help move things along.
3. Pain Medications
Pain medications can be the saving grace of people with chronic pain, but they can also create other problems. Opioid painkillers tend to cause constipation by slowing intestinal motility. Eating bowel stimulants like prunes and spicy foods and taking a magnesium supplement can remedy the problem.
4. Lack of Exercise
For some people, too little exercise is the cause of their toilet troubles. Physical activity not only speeds digestion and gastric emptying but also improves intestinal transit. In most cases, a leisurely walk once daily is enough to keep constipation at bay.
You already know stress is bad for you, but you might not realize that it can also cause constipation. During intense stress, the body suspends normal processes like sex drive, appetite and bowel movements. Finding ways to avoid or minimize stress is key to restoring order.
Dehydration is among the most common causes of constipation. When the body lacks water, it saves it for more important functions and withholds it from the intestines. This results in hard, dry feces that doesn’t move through the bowels easily.
7. Low Carb Diets
If you’re part of the low-carb craze and struggling with constipation, you may want to re-think your diet. A lack of carbohydrates causes a sluggish thyroid, which in turn results in constipation. Furthermore, carbohydrates stimulate colonic movement.
8. Food Intolerance
If you frequently struggle with constipation and can’t figure out why, you may have a food intolerance. Many common food intolerances, like those to gluten and lactose, can cause diarrhea in some people and constipation in others. Pay attention to your diet and how different foods affect you. If you thing a food is constipating you, remove it from your diet and see if it helps.