When you are constipated what happens to your body’s waste products?
They stay in your body longer when they really need to be eliminated. This is the single largest route for toxin and waste removal so getting things moving well should always be a top priority for your health.
For us we are still quite surprised when people are told that constipation is nothing to worry about!
In the world of natural therapies, a healthy digestive tract could well be our number one “mantra” but this is because it is so very central.
You certainly will not feel great when unneeded products can’t leave. Products like cholesterol and oestrogen get recycled back into the bloodstream, causing all sorts of issues. Inefficient evacuation also interferes with digestion, clogging up and disrupting beneficial flora and providing a gut environment that favours pathogens. The evidence shows that disrupted microbiome may also result in constipation too so it works both ways. As usual this all goes back to your diet one way or another!
Constipation & Chronic Illness
Resolving constipation may be one of the most important steps in resolving and preventing nearly any chronic illness. The body is burdened by an inability to efficiently remove its waste products and by the need to deal with this waste somewhere and somehow. This is why it becomes pivotal in treating chronic illness. Resolving constipation is something we insist on and you will be pleasantly surprised at what a difference it can make in your treatment outcomes – people feel better, blood results look better and its usually easily sustainable.
What About Diarrhoea or Loose Stools?
Diarrhoea or loose stools have other issues, nutrients do not have time to be properly digested and be absorbed causing malnourishment. But it’s important to know that you can have diarrhoea, loose stools or urgency and still be constipated.
What is Constipation?
Constipation is identified when there is a difficulty in emptying the bowels. So you may pass a bowel movement daily but evacuation may be incomplete. Bowels may be hard, pebbly, bitsy and cause straining.
What Should My Bowel Movements Look Like?
The below chart has been taken from mercola.com and gives a good indication of what our stools should look like.
|Medium to light brown||Stool that is hard to pass, painful, or requires straining|
|Smooth and soft, formed into one long shape and not a bunch of pieces||Hard lumps and pieces, or mushy and watery, or even pasty and difficult to clean off|
|About one to two inches in diameter and up to 18 inches long||
Narrow, pencil-like or ribbon-like stools: can indicate a bowel obstruction or tumor – or worst case, colon cancer; narrow stools on an infrequent basis are not so concerning, but if they persist, definitely warrant a call to your physician
|S-shaped, which comes from the shape of your lower intestine6||Black, tarry stools or bright red stools may indicate bleeding in the GI tract; black stools can also come from certain medications, supplements or consuming black licorice; if you have black, tarry stools, it’s best to be evaluated by your healthcare provider|
|Quiet and gentle dive into the water…it should fall into the bowl with the slightest little “whoosh” sound – not a loud, wet cannonball splash that leaves your toosh in need of a shower||White, pale or gray stools may indicate a lack of bile, which may suggest a serious problem (hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatic disorders, or possibly a blocked bile duct), so this warrants a call to your physician; antacids may also produce white stool|
|Natural smell, not repulsive (I’m not saying it will smell good)||Yellow stools may indicate giardiainfection, a gallbladder problem, or a condition known as Gilbert’s syndrome – if you see this, call your doctor|
|Uniform texture||Presence of undigested food (more of a concern if accompanied by diarrhea, weight loss, or other changes in bowel habits)|
|Sinks slowly||Floaters or splashers|
|Increased mucus in stool: This can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis, or even colon cancer, especially if accompanied by blood or abdominal pain|
What to do if you can’t go!
Here is a check list of things to try:
- Aim for 1 litre of water for every 22 kilos you weigh
- Drink at least 1 glass of warm water upon rising and then aim for 500mls to 1 litre before breakfast (build up to this) – you can add electrolytes to some of this water
- Ideally drink the balance in between meals
- You must get enough fibre both soluble and insoluble (different types and amounts work for different people – you need to find your “right” amount)
- Ensure plenty of raw vegetables (some of you with bowel disorders will not tolerate raw, so lightly steam)
- Include fresh vegetable juices, including the pulp (no more than a quarter of the juice should be made up of root vegetables) – green smoothies
- Include fresh fruits with the skin
- Include nuts and seeds (sunflower, linseed, pumpkin, almonds, chia seeds), soaked, sprouted or ground – I particularly like raw ground linseeds and soaked raw chia seeds due to the nutrients they also add to the diet, very useful to be part of your morning routine
- Include certain whole grains – brown/red/wild rice, barley, oats, rye, buckwheat, amaranth, millet (this will depend on what you can tolerate, please note that barley, oats, rye contain gluten and whilst some people are intolerant, others are fine on these)
- Depending on how much you struggle with constipation will depend on how much you will require, for many the above can make up 50 to 70 % of the diet
- Regular physical exercise is an absolute necessity for healthy bodily functions to take place, the gut is reliant on muscular action to move food through it, so if these muscles are weak then this will become difficult
- Squatting to empty the bowels has proven to be beneficial particularly where constipation is concerned, its how we where designed to “go”!
- Sit on the toilet at the same time every day (even if the urge to defecate is not present) preferably immediately after breakfast or exercise.
- Consuming refined foods and junk food is more likely to cause issues with stools
- Overeating one particular food can lead to constipation
- Pharmaceuticals can cause constipation
- Some people have a sluggish bowel and so need to do more of the above than those who don’t
- Chewing food slowly and completely can aid digestion and therefore improve bowel movements
- Eating while stressed interferes with digestion
- Its better to avoid reliance on any one thing (particularly laxatives in the long term) and much better for there to be enough water, fibre, exercise to get the job done
- Food intolerance’s and allergies can cause constipation so identifying and removing these may be relevant for some people
- A probiotic supplement of beneficial bacteria is a great way to restore a healthy microbiome as this is often compromised with constipation (avoid commercial probiotic products like yakult as they contain sugars)
- If you need extra help lactulose or partially hydrolysed guar gum (PHGG) can be great as it is also a prebiotic (can cause flatulence for some) or psyllium husk but there are many others – garlic, onions and globe artichokes are also prebiotics.
- Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar with mother, fermented vegetables and kefir provide beneficial bacteria in foods natural too.