Mounjaro® Constipation Relief: Unblock the Way
Mounjaro (tirzepatide) lowers blood glucose, food intake, and body weight. Currently, it’s only approved for those with type 2 diabetes, but it’s expected to be approved for weight loss in the near future.
Like many other medications, it has side effects, including constipation. This unpleasant side effect is common and can be uncomfortable.
If you’re dealing with constipation due to Mounjaro, you can follow some simple steps to ease the discomfort and unblock the way!
How Does Mounjaro Cause Constipation?
There are a few reasons why this medication can cause constipation.
Slows Gastric Emptying
Mounjaro is a GLP-1 receptor agonist, and one of its effects is to slow digestion. This can cause constipation due to the intestines not moving waste as quickly as usual.
Changes in Eating Habits
Because Mounjaro reduces appetite, users may experience significant changes in their eating habits. Eating smaller portions or skipping meals can reduce bowel movements since less food is in the digestive system.
Additionally, suddenly switching to a low-fiber diet can worsen constipation.
Dietary fiber is crucial for maintaining regular bowel movements as it adds bulk to the stool, aiding its passage through the digestive tract. Therefore, changing eating habits without considering the fiber content of the diet can contribute to constipation as a side effect.
Now that we’ve explored the causes, let’s delve into some effective remedies.
Eat More Fiber
Eating more fiber is the first thing you can do to relieve constipation. Fiber-rich foods help move stool through the digestive tract and add bulk to the stool, making it easier and more comfortable to pass.
Add a source of fiber to most meals and snacks. The goal is to consume between 25-35 grams of fiber each day.
Good sources of fiber include:
- Whole grains, like oats, brown rice, and whole wheat bread
- Fruit, like bananas, oranges, and apples (with the skin)
- Vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and carrots
- Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas
- Nuts and seeds, like almonds, chia seeds, and flax seeds
- Tubers such as potatoes and sweet potatoes
Water is very important when it comes to preventing and relieving constipation. Dehydration can lead to dry, hard stool that’s difficult to pass.
When you stay hydrated, your digestive system can function properly, breaking down food and helping you stay regular. Plus, water and dietary fiber work together to make things easier — the fiber absorbs the water and adds bulk to your stool, making it move through your digestive tract more easily.
So, make sure to drink enough water every day to keep your digestion healthy and prevent constipation. Aim for eight glasses of water daily — or more if you’re active or live in a warm climate. You can also drink herbal tea, clear soups, and decaffeinated coffee to hydrate.
Exercise is also important for relieving constipation. Regular physical activity stimulates the intestines and helps waste move through the colon more quickly. When you participate in moderately challenging physical activities like walking, running, or yoga, you’re effectively encouraging your muscles to contract, which promotes regular bowel movements.
It doesn’t have to be intense exercise; even relatively light activities can make a big difference. Try to include at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise in your daily routine for better digestive health.
Prunes are one of the best natural remedies for constipation. They’re rich in fiber and sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that has a laxative effect. The combination helps soften stools as they move through the digestive system.
Eat prunes daily for best results, or drink their juice instead.
Coffee — particularly caffeinated coffee — offers a stimulating effect on the digestive system that is known to aid in alleviating constipation. The caffeine in coffee stimulates muscle contractions in the large intestine, mimicking the natural reflexes that occur following a meal. This, in turn, helps to prompt bowel movements and relieve constipation symptoms.
Furthermore, the fluid content in coffee also contributes to your daily hydration levels, which is essential for softening stools and promoting regularity. However, it’s important to note that moderation is key. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, so excessive amounts can lead to dehydration and potentially worsen constipation.
Eat Olive Oil
Olive oil — a staple in Mediterranean cuisine — also doubles as an effective home remedy for constipation. Consuming it can stimulate your digestive system, aiding in smoother bowel movements. It works by coating the walls of your intestines, allowing for easier passage of stools.
Try incorporating a tablespoon of olive oil into your diet each morning for optimal results.
Eat Probiotic Foods or Supplements
Probiotic foods are another effective remedy for constipation. They are packed with beneficial bacteria that help balance your gut flora and improve your overall digestive health.
These friendly microorganisms work by promoting normal bowel movements and increasing their frequency. Foods rich in probiotics include yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and probiotic drinks*.
If probiotic foods are not to your liking, probiotic supplements are also available. Regular consumption of probiotic foods or supplementation can aid in reducing the symptoms of constipation and promote regularity.
Get into a Schedule
Establishing a regular toileting routine can significantly help manage constipation. Our bodies thrive on consistency, and setting a specific time each day for bowel movements trains the body to follow a regular digestive pattern.
This can be particularly beneficial in the morning when our bodies are naturally inclined to initiate this process.
Creating and adhering to a schedule — including regular meal times, hydration, and exercise — can improve gut health and help prevent constipation. Consistency is key, so try to stick to your schedule as closely as possible for the best results.
Get a Toilet Stool
A toilet stool can be a good tool for managing constipation. By elevating your feet and changing the angle of your body, using a toilet stool means you adopt a more natural squatting position.
This position can straighten out the kink at the entrance of your rectum, enabling a smoother and more complete elimination. This simple change can significantly reduce straining, making bowel movements easier and healthier.
If natural remedies don’t work, over-the-counter medications such as laxatives or stool softeners can temporarily relieve constipation. However, these are short-term solutions.
The next time you see your healthcare provider, mention any over-the-counter medications you’re taking and their effects. This will give your clinician better insight into your digestive health and help them identify the best long-term approach.
Types of Over-the-Counter Medication
There are a few different types of medication:
Bulking agents, such as fiber supplements and psyllium husk, add bulk to stool. This makes it easier for the intestines to push it through your digestive tract. Common bulking agents include Benefiber, ® and Metamucil®.
This over-the-counter medication works by increasing the amount of water absorbed by the stool, making it softer and easier to pass. Common stool softeners include Colace® and Surfak®.
These stimulants function by prompting your intestines to contract, thereby encouraging bowel movements. Medications like Dulcolax® and Senokot® can be particularly beneficial when you need quick relief. However, using them sparingly is essential. Overuse can lead to dependency, making your problem much worse in the long run.
These medications work by drawing water into the colon from nearby tissues, thereby softening the stool and making it easier to pass. Some common examples of oral osmotics include Milk of Magnesia® and Miralax®. It’s important to remember to drink plenty of fluids when using these medications, as they can cause dehydration.
This article by the Mayo Clinic is a good source of information if you’re looking for more information about using laxatives.
When to Talk to Your Doctor
While taking Mounjaro, it’s always important to mention any side effects you’re experiencing to your healthcare provider.
However, you might want to talk to your doctor before your regular scheduled appointment if:
- You’re experiencing discomfort or pain while using laxatives
- Your constipation persists despite your efforts
- There’s blood in your stool
- You’re also experiencing abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting
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Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL, is dedicated to empowering women in perimenopause and menopause to live healthier, more satisfying lives.
With a doctorate in clinical nutrition from the University of North Florida, she has expertise in menopause and weight loss, including the unique challenges faced by those on weight loss medications.
Su-Nui’s passion for her field is evident in her previous role as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.