I know, another one you won’t want to read over your breakfast! My last post triggered several enquiries from people that have some kind of digestive issue and constipation particularly, so this week I’m going to give you some basic information to ‘get you moving’ again!
First let’s get clear on what a normal bowel movement should look like (sorry, but there’s no way to pretty this up)!
– Between one and three easily-passed stools daily
– Little sustained aroma
– Medium brown in color
– Long, log-like piece or few pieces
– No discomfort, no straining, no delay
So what constitutes constipation exactly?
– Constipation is defined as one or more of the following:
– Infrequent bowel movements
– Having to strain to pass a stool
– Hard, pellet-like or incomplete stools
Causes of constipation
– Poor motility in the colon. Often caused by insufficient dietary insoluble fibre, microbial imbalance or insufficiency, nerve damage, withholding bowel movement when the urge occurs or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
– Sluggish peristalsis in overall GI tract. From low stomach acid, grazing, low intestinal serotonin production, magnesium deficiency, food sensitivity or intolerance, iron supplements, food sensitivities, calcium channel blocker (CCB) hypertension medication
– Hard stools. From insufficient water intake, slow transit time
– Incomplete stools. Due to insufficient dietary soluble fibre
– Poor stool lubrication. Caused by insufficient healthy fats, low mucus production in colon lining
– Nervous system imbalance. From opiate or antihistamine drugs, chronic stress, rushing, poor eating hygiene, adrenal fatigue
– Poor energy generation within intestinal cells. From statin drugs, hypothyroidism, toxicity, adrenal fatigue
– Sudden stress. Your body may prioritise dealing with the stress and shut down non-essential functions temporarily
– Being away from home. Many people are unable to ‘perform’ away from home
There are two elements to this. Firstly, what we refer to as triage care… for those who experience occasional constipation and need a quick remedy and secondly, those with more acute conditions requiring a deeper understanding.
There are plenty of over-the-counter laxatives but due to side effects ranging from mild to extremely serious, these are not always a good solution, especially if used regularly.
So let’s look at safe, natural triage solutions for one-off bouts of constipation:
Natural chewing gum with Xylitol
A sugar alcohol loosens stools gently and doesn’t aggravate IBS according to research. The chewing action stimulates digestion and motility. It’s also a natural antimicrobial and helps to clean teeth in between meals. Use frequently during period of constipation as it is a gentle and progressive remedy.
High in stool-loosening sugar alcohol and polyphenols. No long-term side effects (but diabetics need to be cautious) and significant benefits including fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (plant nutrients). Consume 5 at night before bed and 5 the next morning with plenty of water for maximum effect. This is a moderate solution and tends to work for most people.
Extra virgin olive oil
Mix a ¼ cup in a small fruit smoothie at night prior to bed. If necessary, repeat mid-morning the following day. This is an intense and effective remedy.
Stimulant Herb formulas
These usually feature senna and/or cape aloe and work to promote digestion, soften stools and cleanse the colon.
What about regular constipation & bloating?
So that takes care of the occasional need for intervention but if constipation or heaving bloating are a regular symptom for you, you need may need to look more closely at your diet and your lifestyle habits in order to address the problem long term. To experience these long-term indicates a definite issue going on somewhere. Here are common causes of inhibited healthy bowel movements and bloating:
– Food intolerances
– Vitamin & mineral deficiencies, commonly magnesium and vitamin
– Imbalance in gut bacteria
– Lack of dietary fibre
– Adrenal / thyroid issues
– Not enough water intake
– Supressing bowel movements
– Pressure on the digestive system
– Being away from home/travelling regularly
Treatment in these cases may involve taking simple supplements adjusting your diet, adopting healthier mealtime practices, learning to manage stress, understanding which foods may be triggers and so on. I can’t give a definitive list here as so many factors contribute so I would look at the overall health status to establish the root cause, but I hope this gives you some idea of what to look for and how you can effectively treat the problem.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch and take advantage of my FREE 1-hour consultation if you’d like to learn more about how I can help you.