Does Chewing Help Constipation?

image of a mouth chewing something, alongside the blog title Does Chewing help Constipation?

Does Chewing Help Constipation?

Does chewing help constipation? Yes it does and there are so many other things our physical therapists offer to help you improve constipation.

We are Purple Mountain Physical Therapy and we specialize in treating constipation, pelvic floor dysfunction, bladder problems, intimacy related pain, spine and TMJ disorders for women and men. Many of our patients come to us for lifelong constipation or IBS and are looking for natural ways to help improve their constipation.

In addition to fiber, eating breakfast and eating whole foods, have you ever considered that chewing may help your constipation?

Chewing is an important part of digestion and discussion regarding chewing habits and texture of foods is one component of our specialized physical therapy to help constipation, bladder urgency and frequency, pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunction.

Not convinced that chewing really can make a dent in your constipation issues? Consider this study:

Study on adults receiving lower limb skeletal traction. They were hospitalized and immobile. As a result, they had high rates of constipation. In the study researchers divided them into 3 groups: Group A received chewing gum. Group B received abdominal massage Group C was a control group and received usual care which was to encourage drinking more fluid, eating fiber and moving in the bed actively or having someone else passively move you.

Chewing gum was chewed 3 times a day for 30 minutes

Abdominal massage was performed twice daily for 15 minutes

Did they find a statistically significant benefit for chewing gum or abdominal massage? Yes, both were beneficial. For the statisticians reading this, statistical significance was found with a P value of p=0.034.

Constipation rates with usual care: 39%

Constipation rates with abdominal massage group 37.3% (statistically significant)

Constipation rates with chewing gum group 23.7% (statistically significant)

Researchers conclusion:
Abdominal massage and chewing gum are non-invasive and convenient ways to stimulate bowel movement and prevent constipation, including in inactive people. Chewing gum is more effective than abdominal massage in reducing incidence of constipation and both should be considered as accessible and easy to implement interventions.

-Nezakati, Aram, et al. Acta Medica Mediterranea 34.6 (2018): 1787-1792.

Our Patients Come To Us Wanting to Get Off of Linzess or Other Pharma Medications To Help Their Severe Constipation, Abdominal Bloating and Pelvic Floor Issues. We Offer Natural Remedies, Using the Power of Your Body, Through Specialized Physical Therapy To Help Your Constipation.

Our specialist physical therapists work with adults and children who experience bladder, bowel and abdominal-pelvic pain conditions. By including a detailed history of your bowel habits, dietary choices, activity levels, stress levels, sleep quality and other items influencing your digestion and pelvic health, we can support you to implement different habits, such as chewing your food more slowly and thoroughly or trialing chewing gum as one part of your constipation remediation plan. If you are wanting help from our licensed physical therapists, give us a call at (616) 516-4334 or contact us here.

Personalized and comprehensive pelvic physical therapy treatment methods naturally help your constipation and other pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms, such as pelvic organ prolapse, urinary urgency and frequency, pelvic pain and urinary incontinence.

There is a difference when working with one of our licensed, specialist bladder and bowel physical therapists. If you are struggling with constipation or other pelvic, spine or TMJ issues, our PTs are here to help you find a path forward. To learn more, reach out to us at (616) 516-4334 or contact us here and we will be in touch! Purple Mountain Physical Therapy is a speciality pelvic health, back, neck and TMJ disorder clinic located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We offer in-person physical therapy as well as telehealth for those who qualify.

We offer comprehensive, natural remedies for constipation that are backed by research. If you would like information about our licensed PT for constipation, contact us here. You can also talk with one of our staff members to get your questions answered, call 616.516.4334. We love this work and are here to get you relief from your constipation. Here is a quote from the clinical practice guidelines for physical therapists who treat functional constipation:

Physical therapists possess the knowledge and skills to manage neuromuscular impairments and functional limitations that may contribute to constipation and its impact on an individual’s activity, participation, and quality of life. Currently, physical therapists manage constipation using a multifaceted approach that typically includes neuromuscular reeducation (often with the use of biofeedback) to retrain pelvic muscle coordination, as well as dietary and fluid recommendations, proper toileting techniques and timely response to bowel urges, abdominal massage to improve colonic, and management of musculoskeletal impairments that may impact bowel health.”

-LaCross, Jennifer A. PT, DPT, PhD(c)1; Borello-France, Diane PT, PhD2; Marchetti, Gregory F. PT, PhD2; Turner, Rose MLIS3; George, Susan PT, DPT4. Physical Therapy Management of Functional Constipation in Adults: A 2021 Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline From the American Physical Therapy Association’s Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy. Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy 46(3):p E59-E84, July/September 2022.

In addition to adjustments to your daily habits, such as chewing your food to help constipation and digestion, our licensed physical therapists provide many natural and holistic treatments, clinically proven to help constipation.

The physical therapy treatments are holistic, address your entire body, toileting techniques, pelvic floor dysfunction, scar tissue, eating habits and bowel motility. We also teach you what you can do at home to help your constipation, so you don’t have to deal with bothersome constipation everyday. If this sounds intriguing, call (616) 516-4334 to ask about cost and availability or contact us here to have your questions answered.

If you are experiencing constipation and are looking for a natural and holistic approach to help your constipation, such as chewing your food better, treating your pelvic floor muscle tension, or abdominal massage, our licensed physical therapists are here to help you.

You can expect a comprehensive treatment approach that includes numerous physical therapy interventions such as exercises, stretches, self abdominal massage, scar tissue manual therapy, electric stimulation, neural calming, pelvic floor training, toileting posture & mechanics practice, eating and dietary recommendations and more. Physical therapy for constipation can help you feel so much better. To get your questions answered, contact us here or call (616) 516-4334

Our patients tell us that their medical providers have never taught them what we teach them and have not provided them a natural and comprehensive approach for helping their constipation. Our methods include exercise, self abdominal massage, scar tissue treatment, pelvic and spine balancing and treatment, visceral mobilization and instructions on optimizing your bowel habits, techniques for defecating and chewing & diet. If this sounds like it may help you, call us at 616.516.4334 or contact us here to get your questions answered.

How does chewing help my constipation?

Digestion begins in the mouth when you chew and digestive enzymes are released. The process of chewing and swallowing initiates your digestion so your stomach and intestines know they need to begin to work. If you are not thoroughly chewing your food, you are effectively dumping a large hunk of food into your stomach and intestines and relying on these organs to macerate it, break it down, absorb its nutrients and form the unused pieces into stool. Improper chewing is asking too much of the rest of your digestive system. This is especially true if you have a history of chronic constipation because we know that your digestive system is already compromised with constipation.

Does Eating Breakfast Improve Constipation? Yes! Have you heard of the Gastrocolic Reflex?

Yes, eating breakfast with a complete meal that involves chewing, fiber (if tolerated), and a warm drink can help stimulate your gastrocolic reflex, which is the reflex that helps get your digestion started and gets your bowels moving. Chewing and swallowing have an important role in stimulating digestion, particularly at breakfast time because the gastrocolic reflex is most active in the morning. One thing you can do to help your constipation is chew your food better and look at your eating habits. Here’s more information about the gastrocolic reflex:

“The gastrocolic reflex is a physiological reflex that controls the motility of the lower gastrointestinal tract following a meal. As a result of the gastrocolic reflex, the colon has increased motility in response to the stretch of the stomach with the ingestion of food. The gastrocolic reflex allows room for the consumption of more food via control over peristalsis and movement of ingested food distally toward the rectum.”

-Malone JC, Thavamani A. Physiology, Gastrocolic Reflex. [Updated 2022 May 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan

To improve nutrition absorption and constipation our physical therapists recommend that you chew your food to the consistency of apple sauce.

We also provide a complete evaluation for our patients who have constipation and specific constipation remedies and physical therapy constipation treatments that are customized to your body. To ask us about our physical therapy for constipation either in person at our clinic in Grand Rapids, Michigan or via a remote consultation, if you qualify, please contact us here or call 616-516-4334

If Chewing & Breakfast Help Constipation, What Should I Do if I Don’t Have An Appetite in the Morning?

Our patients with chronic constipation, often skip breakfast and do not have an appetite in the morning. One of the many natural recommendations we make to help constipation is to get yourself in the habit of eating a breakfast that involves food that need to be chewed. The process of chewing actually helps stimulate the gut to begin digestion. Foods such as yogurt and hard boiled eggs, which require minimal chewing and do not have fiber are not the ideal choice, for example. A better choice might be whole grain oatmeal with nuts and berries, possibly flax seeds in it. Skipping breakfast is a bad habit that plays into why you are constipated.

Our patients are wanting natural and effective ways to improve their bothersome constipation. Obviously, there is more to resolving constipation than simply chewing your food, which is where our bladder and bowel physical therapy can help you.

If you are interested in learning about our PT to help your constipation, you can call us at 616.516.4334 to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members or contact us here with your questions! We are located in Grand Rapids, Michigan and we have been specialized in this field for many years; we offer in-person treatments or remote consultations for those who qualify.

Once new habits are installed, such as eating breakfast with chewing, learning how to perform abdominal massage, changing toileting mechanics, addressing pelvic floor tension and implementing other natural and low cost remedies such as warm compresses, your constipation improves.

Patients tell us that they develop more of an appetite for breakfast, so it becomes easier to keep this habit going. If you are needing these kinds of recommendations to help your constipation, our physical therapists specialize in helping people just like you who are struggling with constipation.

Chewing is a very important part of helping constipation and there are so many more things our PTs can recommend for you. Our patients tell us that in their PT for constipation they learn more things they can do and they wish they had been aware of these things years ago.

Your path to improve your constipation begins with your evaluation with our doctor of physical therapy, who is a licensed physical therapist. Call us at 616-516-4334 or contact us here to learn more. This is a private appointment, upto 55 minutes in length and will include a complete review of the things you have tried to do to help your constipation, your daily bowel habits, any pelvic issues related to your bladder, bowels, intimacy or pain and your medical history, which includes abdominal surgeries

Because chewing helps constipation, chewing is essential for maintaining a healthy gut. Chewing can help reduce or prevent constipation and can help with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease.

Do you have abdominal pain, intestinal bloating or general discomfort related to constipation? Have you ever examined your chewing habits to ensure you are chewing your food very well? Because chewing helps constipation, it is important that you take the time to chew your food to the consistency of apple sauce.

Because kids are prone to constipation, we often recommend they work on chewing their food better to help avoid constipation and to help get their gut moving. Constipation in children is linked to bedwetting, daytime loss of urine and fecal incontinence.

Constipation in children does not show up with the same problems that adults have. In particular, a child who is constipated is likely to experience nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting), enuresis (daytime bladder leaks), and encopresis (stool leaks or smearing). Any child who comes to our physical therapy for urinary incontinence problems will receive a complete assessment of their bowel function and whether they have constipation. Constipation in kids can cause extra large stools, stretches out the rectum, which can disrupt bladder control, sometimes causing the bladder to completely empty at night, leading to bedwetting. Children who do not have daily complete bowel movements or who have bloating or abdominal pains are usually constipated. For these kids we know that chewing food more completely, to the consistency of apple sauce, can help their constipation. We also provide a complete physical therapy program for pediatric bladder and bowel development and control. If your child is experiencing troubles related to bladder or bowel function, our licensed physical therapist specializes in providing treatment that helps them. Call us at 616-516-4334 or contact us here to learn more.

Chewing helps constipation and can reduce your bloating, abdominal cramping, hemorrhoids, anal fissures and pelvic floor strain.

In adulthood, constipation tends to manifest differently than in kids. Most adults do not wet the bed, for example. But, a constipated adult may experience pelvic pain, rectal prolapse, other pelvic organ prolapsetailbone pain, bloating, hemorrhoids, anal fissures and pelvic floor dysfunction. Constipation also leads to your colon being in contact with your body’s waste products for a longer period of time, which increases your likelihood of colon cancer. The problems associated with constipation should be taken seriously and respond very well to our physical therapy methods. We love to work with people who struggle with lifelong constipation, because you are highly motivated and often demonstrate exceptional improvements that cause you to tell us that you are so very happy with your improvements. If you are interested in learning more about our physical therapy, please call 616-516-4334 or contact us here. You will be able to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members who can answer all of your questions. Once you come to PT, you will find that with your first evaluation you are learning things that can greatly help your constipation.

Can physical therapy, such as abdominal massage, vagus nerve toning and pelvic floor muscle training help my constipation?

Yes, these treatments can help your constipation. Because our licensed PTs specialize in pelvic health, we offer holistic treatments that have helped patients who have Crohn’s disease, IBS, celiac disease, colorectal cancer and other gut related health problems. Our therapies are gentle, safe and natural. Treatment is one-on-one with your PT for up to 55 minutes. For more information about working with us, contact us here or call us at 616-516-4334. This time allows us to provide you whole body care, such as heart rate variability training, diaphragmatic breathing exercises, pelvic floor muscle training, abdominal massage, scar tissue mobilization and vagus nerve toning treatments. Each of these interventions is meant to calm your inflammatory state and promote healthy pelvic floor muscle control. Treatment using abdominal massage in physical therapy for constipation has been around for a number of years and has been shown in case studies to help improve regularity and ease of passing your stools.

Physical therapy incorporating abdominal massage appeared to be helpful in resolving this patient’s constipation. Unlike medical management of constipation, no known side effects have been identified with abdominal massage.

-Kendra L Harrington, Esther M Haskvitz, Managing a Patient’s Constipation With Physical Therapy, Physical Therapy, Volume 86, Issue 11, 1 November 2006, Pages 1511–1519.

Does chewing help my microbiome? Yes, it does! Build your gut health one bite at a time!

Chewing food is a truly underappreciated habit that promotes a healthy gut. There is evidence that chewing food to small particles helps enhance digestion and your microbiome. For these reasons, our physical therapists encourage our patients who have constipation to chew their food to the consistency of apple sauce so that they can promote healthier gut microbiome and digestive capabilities.

“differences in chewing behavior and chewing outcome also significantly affected (…) microbial composition and the production of organic acid metabolites, resulting from colonic fermentation, which is increasingly recognized to be important for human health. These digestion/fermentation outcomes were largely related with the chewing time per mouthful, proportion of bolus particles bigger than 2 mm and amount of saliva added to the bolus during chewing. No significant relationships were found with other chewing trajectory and oral physiological measures. These results suggest that modification of chewing may be an effective strategy to control blood glucose levels and to shape gut microbiota and their metabolites, without altering diets”

-Kim, Esther H.-J., Wilson, Arran J., et al. Chewing differences in consumers affect the digestion and colonic fermentation outcomes: in vitro studies.  2022.  9355- 9371. Food & Function.  VoL  – 13  IS  – 18 PB  – The Royal Society of Chemistry

The Vagus Nerve is Stimulated when you chew! This is another reason why chewing does help constipation.

The vagus nerve is the main regulator of your parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system. This nerve is your 10th cranial nerve and begins in your head. It is a very long nerve and has branches that go down your brainstem, to the neck, thoracic spine/rib cage, and down to the abdomen. The vagus nerve controls most of the muscles in the pharynx and larynx required for swallowing and vocalization. In this way, the vagus nerve impacts gut function from the very moment food enters your mouth! If you would like to receive specialized and gentle treatments by our PTs to stimulate your vagus nerve and also to learn how to do it yourself at home, contact us here or call us at 616.516.4334 

The Autonomic Nervous System has two parts: The Fight or Flight Nervous System and The Rest and Digest Nervous System. Your PT program will work to improve the rest & digest portion of your nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system balance and gut-brain connection is a very interesting aspect of how to treat constipation. It turns out that one aspect of constipation is getting the rest and digest portion of your nervous system, which is largely your Vagus Nerve, to function at a higher level. Our physical therapy methods work to balance and enhance your parasympathetic nervous system, by using treatments to get your Vagus Nerve working better. We offer many approaches to helping your vagus nerve function, including chewing, manual therapies to the abdomen or neck, diaphragmatic activation techniques, breathing exercises and heart rate variability training. To work with one of our physical therapists, either in person in Grand Rapids, or via remote consultation, call our office at (616) 516-4334 to see if you qualify or reach out to us here to ask us a question.

When our PTs are promoting chewing your food, abdominal massage and breathing exercises to help your constipation, we are also helping your Vagus Nerve to work for you.

This will facilitate your digestion. When the parasympathetic nervous system (the Vagus Nerve) is more active, your heart rate slows, breathing deepens, blood returns to the digestive tract, and you feel more relaxed. Being in this state, instead of fight or flight, is necessary for the intestines to do their work digesting your food and giving you peristalsis to move the stool along your intestinal track so you can eventually defecate. This is one reason why our patients tell us that their physical therapy appointments are relaxing. If you would like more information about cost and availability, contact us here or call us at 616.516.4334. 

More evidence that the gut-brain axis is crucial to your wellbeing:

The bidirectional communication between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract, the so-called “brain–gut axis,” is based on a complex system, including the vagus nerve, but also sympathetic (e.g., via the prevertebral ganglia), endocrine, immune, and humoral links as well as the influence of gut microbiota in order to regulate gastrointestinal homeostasis and to connect emotional and cognitive areas of the brain with gut functions

-Carabotti M, Scirocco A, Maselli MA, Severi C. The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Ann Gastroenterol (2015) 28:203–9.

If you would like to talk with one of our knowledgable staff members about your constipation or pelvic health needs, contact us here or call 616-516-4334.

Because our patients are tired of medical treatments for constipation that don’t work or are expensive or come with side effects, they are looking for natural approaches to help their constipation. Our pelvic physical therapists will provide you a lengthy list of customized treatments and things you can do for yourself to help constipation, including chewing.

There are strong ties between chewing habits and constipation. Chewing more effectively does help constipation, gut microbiome and intestinal health. Our PTs offer you comprehensive methods to further improve your constipation.

Purple Mountain Physical Therapy is a specialty PT clinic located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We treat women, men and kids who have bladder, bowel and pain conditions, including chronic constipation, chronic pelvic pain, TMJ disorders and neck and back pain. Our specialty pediatric PT program specifically helps chronic constipation and improves kids’ self esteem and control for bladder and bowels. We are trained in pediatric specific and developmentally appropriate interventions that are positive, play based and help a child learn the complicated process of controlling their bladder and bowel muscles. Quite often the adults we treat tell us that their bladder problems developed back in childhood. It is our mission to reduce childhood embarrassment related to toileting challenges and to help ease stress amongst parents who so often worry their child may be made fun of by other kids. If you are interested in learning more about our bladder & bowel programs you can speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members at (616)516-4334 or contact us here.


Dr. Maureen O’Keefe, DPT founder of Purple Mountain PT and pelvic health, spine and TMJ specialist. Our team of licensed physical therapists all specialize in treating chronic constipation and are here to help you take control of your body and improve your digestion.

You may be interested in these other articles we’ve written about the services we offer:

Why is My Child’s Poop So Big?

8 Ways Pelvic PT Helps IBS

Why Does My C-Section Scar Hurt Years Later?

Why Can’t I Push Out My Pee?

What is High Tone Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

Does Physical Therapy Help Endometriosis?

What Can I Do Naturally to Help My TMJ? 8 Tips That Help!

Physical Therapy Can Stop Bedwetting!


Bonaz B, Sinniger V, Pellissier S. Vagus nerve stimulation: a new promising therapeutic tool in inflammatory bowel disease. J Intern Med (2017) 282:46–63. doi:10.1111/joim.12611

Carabotti M, Scirocco A, Maselli MA, Severi C. The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Ann Gastroenterol (2015) 28:203–9.

Kendra L Harrington, Esther M Haskvitz, Managing a Patient’s Constipation With Physical Therapy, Physical Therapy, Volume 86, Issue 11, 1 November 2006, Pages 1511–1519.

LaCross, Jennifer A. PT, DPT, PhD(c)1; Borello-France, Diane PT, PhD2; Marchetti, Gregory F. PT, PhD2; Turner, Rose MLIS3; George, Susan PT, DPT4. Physical Therapy Management of Functional Constipation in Adults Executive Summary: A 2021 Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline From the American Physical Therapy Association’s Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy. Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy 46(3):p 147-153, July/September 2022.

Lewicky-Gaupp, C., Morgan, D.M., Chey, W.D. et al. Successful Physical Therapy for Constipation Related to Puborectalis Dyssynergia Improves Symptom Severity and Quality of Life. Dis Colon Rectum 51, 1686–1691 (2008).

Malone JC, Thavamani A. Physiology, Gastrocolic Reflex. [Updated 2022 May 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan

Nezakati, Aram, et al. “The comparison of effect of abdominal massage and chewing sugar-free gum on the incidence and severity of constipation in male patients undergoing skeletal traction of lower limbs: A single-blind clinical trial.” Acta Medica Mediterranea 34.6 (2018): 1787-1792.

Zeng Y, Zhang X, Zhou J, Wang X, Jiao R, Liu Z. Efficacy of electroacupuncture compared with transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation for functional constipation: Study protocol for a randomized, controlled trial. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 May;97(19):e0692.