Consuming refined foods, a number of dairy products, alcohol, even stress can cause constipation or hardening of the stool. It can last anywhere from a day to a number of weeks if not treated properly. Laxatives are somewhat of an immediate treatment; however, taking laxatives regularly can disrupt your body's natural process of digestion and expulsion of waste. Increasing intake of foods high in fiber and water content have proven to be effective in relieving constipation and softening stool.
Foods High in Fiber
Wheat bran cereal, such as Raisin Bran or Shredded Wheat, are extremely high in fiber. You can also have warm cereals such as grits, oatmeal or Cream of Wheat. Warm foods and liquids are sometimes helpful in relieving constipation or stomach cramps as a result of constipation. Consider sprinkling some raisins into your cereal (hot or cold) for additional fiber. Refined breads and grains can cause constipation or hardening of the stools. It is recommended to avoid these foods until the stools soften; however, if you do consume these foods, go for whole grain breads or whole wheat pasta.
Raw vegetables are most effective in softening the stools, particularly green vegetables, which add more oxygen and phytonutrients to your digestive environment. Vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cabbage, greens, celery or lettuces act as digestive agents due to their texture.
Fruits with skin and small seeds are also easily absorbed into the stools to soften them and promote digestion. Eating apples, grapes or berries with each meal can aid regular digestion.
Water is a key element to health, particularly digestive health. Increase water intake to two to three liters a day to overcompensate for the moisture needed to soften the stools and continue easy digestion. Warm liquids are helpful to relieve the pressure caused by hardened stool. While caffeine can cause some dehydration, which often leads to hardened stool, coffee is a natural diuretic and when consumed in conjunction with water can help relieve constipation. If you don't consume caffeine, try a cup of hot tea or hot lemon water to get the same effect.