If you don’t think that many people deal with chronic constipation, think again. The sales of laxatives are greater than almost every medication except for aspirin. $700 million is spent every year on laxatives and similar mediations to treat constipation.
Although laxatives can be effective, there are many problems that come with long term use such as dependency, electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, lazy bowels, bowel infections, kidney, and even liver damage.
Most people avoid getting professional help because they’re embarrassed or ashamed. Anyone that is experiencing constipation should know that they are not alone. There’s a big group of constipated folks out there, and they’re finally starting to open up the conversation.
The body uses symptoms and signs, such as constipation and digestive complaints, to let us know when something isn’t functioning as it should.
Constipation can be any or all of these:
- Incomplete emptying of the bowels. You might be pooping daily but often you feel dissatisfied, as if there is more that can be evacuated.
- Hard, dry stools which need excessive strain to pass. Extremely uncomfortable.
- Infrequent or unsuccessful evacuation of the colon
- Other digestive symptoms such as bloating, abdominal cramping, or excessive wind
Reasons for constipation
As you might guess, there are many different causes of constipation.
- Changes in your diet, water intake, or not getting enough fiber
- Sedentary lifestyle or a lack of daily movement that slows down your metabolism
- High levels of stress, emotional trauma, or suppression
- Disorders or malfunction of the colon, rectum, anal sphincter, central or peripheral nervous system
- Fighting the urge to go out of habit
- A body low in iron does’t have enough energy and does not eliminate well;
- Pregnancy (and 3 months after birth)
- Menstruation during different hormonal phases (luteal, follicular) causing digestive disturbance
- Certain medications like antidepressants, antihypertensives, analgesics, antipsychotics, and iron supplements.
- Other: the presence of a virus, appendicitis, food poisoning, organic, or systemic disease
We instinctively know that it’s important to poop and feel uncomfortable when we don’t for a few days, but it’s important to know why pooping regularly is so essential to our health.
Why is pooping is so important?
Pooping is how our body removes waste, toxins, and hormones. There are other elimination organs like the skin, kidneys, lungs, and bronchioles, but the bowel is the most used, abused, and unfortunately, neglected.
Contrary to popular thought, there is no “normal” poop pattern, only averages. Studies show that a healthy person can poop anywhere between three times a day to three times a week. Even though it’s not always possible, a healthy daily poop is encouraged.
Why daily? To avoid that “uneasy” or “backed up” feeling that comes with going less often. Many people confess to going every second or third day, or even once a week. These people will usually admit that they feel uncomfortable and may even have a myriad of mild to chronic inflammatory conditions.
What happens when the bowels don’t cooperate?
A leaky gut can be the result of toxins weakening the bowel walls. As the name suggests, the intestinal lining becomes “leaky,” allowing undigested foods, toxins, proteins, fats, and cholesterol to pass through into the bloodstream and lymph. From there they can go on to affect the health of other organs, especially weaker ones.
When there’s too much pressure from straining to poop hard or dry stools, we can develop bowel pockets where the lining of the colon bulges, and food gets collected instead of removed. These pockets are called diverticula and can end up as a place for rotting food to ferment.
Food rotting in the bowel and the development of diverticula can stimulate the growth of dangerous pathogens like parasites, bacteria, and fungus.
Our body cannot deliver oxygen as effectively with high toxicity levels. With less oxygen, we have much less energy.
All of the above problems resulting from bowel issues can lead to chronic inflammatory conditions. The toxicity created by constipation can aggravate pre-existing conditions or even cause pathological change in organs.
On a more social note, chronic constipation attributes to body odor, bad breath, itching, nausea, and even bad dreams and insomnia.
Remember: We all poop. It’s a natural bodily function, and the truth is that most of us experience snags in regularity at different times in our lives. Make a note to start looking at your poop daily and take note of how often you’re going during the week. Always take notice of any changes. Sometimes constipation can be resolved quickly, while at other times further investigation and a long-term repair approach is needed.
How to fix constipation
- Increase your fiber intake
- Drink about a gallon of purified, room-temperature water daily
- Add more herbs and spices to your dishes. Certain seasoning can nourish the organs of digestion and elimination, such as the liver, kidneys, stomach, and spleen. We recommend cayenne, liquorice, coriander, fennel, ginger, and turmeric
- Drink 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with water when you wake up. ACV improves the production of stomach acid, which means a more effective breakdown and absorption of foods and better waste elimination
- Increase the amount healthy fats you eat. Good sources are coconut, olive, and macadamia oil; avocado; oily fish (sardines, mackerel, herring); butter; nuts; and seeds
- Avoid excessive protein. Aim for a palm-sized portion per meal
- Take magnesium bisglycinate. Magnesium is a muscle (intestinal-wall muscles included) and nervous-system relaxant
- Start daily breathing exercises. Without breath, there is tension, blockage, and resistance
- Become more active. Movement improves metabolism, stimulates intestinal contractions, and tones the muscles in the core that help create healthy bowel movements
- Squat when pooping. Squatting or using a squat platform allows for a more natural angle and pressure. It un-kinks the colon and allows for an easier passage for poop to leave