Bowel habits have become my favourite topic over the years. You would be amazed how many people have a problem in this department. After years of asking patients and clients about their daily bowel function it has became very obvious to me that many people suffer from some degree of constipation. Even if you are one of the few who manage to go at least once per day, this does not necessarily mean that you are eliminating well.
Constipation and sluggish bowels would definitely be one of my most common conditions that I see in my naturopathic clinic, but since I have been running the colon hydrotherapy clinic I see even more people. It’s very common even if we don’t like talking about it.
Here’s the deal. Constipation isn’t a disease, it isn’t a problem in and of itself, it is a symptom. In my experience there a many different reasons for why you maybe constipated. Your bowel is as individual as you are and the behaviour of your colon reflects that. Identifying your specific cause may require some detective work.
So how do you know if you are constipated?
It’s interesting to note that many of you believe that going every other day or even every 3 days is normal simply because that’s how it’s always been. Unless you are going regularly daily or more and you have a lovely formed stool and feel that you empty completely, then you are constipated.
If you are constipated then you may be experiencing some bloating, flatulence and indigestion. Most often this flatulence is a bit smelly and you may even have cramps and pain in the belly.
You may have days where your appetite is off and you may even feel nauseous with, indigestion, belching and reflux being all part of the picture.
Long term issues which are more related to poor sluggish elimination of waste matter from the colon, generally makes us feel sluggish, fatigued, you may have headaches, poor sleep, skin issues and trouble concentrating and focusing. If you have been straining for a long time then haemorrhoids and rectal bleeding will be common. Chronic constipation is a major contributing factor for bowel cancer, so as you can see managing this is critical to good health. The old saying Death Begins in the Bowel is very true.
So why do you become constipated?
There are some very obvious reasons such as our western diet that is high in processed grains, junk food and sugar, and equally low in whole grains whole foods and fibre.
We often don’t drink enough clean water and tend to be chronically dehydrated. Water is often replaced with tea, coffee, sugar drinks, milk and alcohol which negatively impact on the bowel as well.
We often don’t exercise enough. Exercise is absolutely vital for good bowel function. It supports and tones the bowel muscle which propels the waste matter along the colon. Even if you eat well if you are not getting good amounts of exercise then you will remain constipated. We generally sit for most of the day and many of us may only get about 30 minutes a day of exercise, unfortunately for the bowel this is not enough. Think how much exercise your grandparents or even parents did say 40 years ago often 3-4 times this amount, constipation was rarely a problem back then.
Ok so your diet is good, you drink loads of water and you are exercising heaps but you are still constipated. Well the problem is often more complex that diet and hydration, and this is when I usually see people in my clinic. Identifying other issues is a little more complex.
If you have had this problem for years, say from when you were a child then your bowel will be in a sluggish pattern. It’s important to never ignore the urge to go. If you miss natures calling then it’s highly likely you will not get it again for the day. If you do this consistently then your urge will disappear. I see this with children and women especially. This will be a major reason for chronic constipation. The other is not sitting for long enough when you do get the urge. With our busy life styles we often don’t allow our bodies time enough to have a good bowel motion. Sometimes nature will not be hurried.
Stresses, anxiety, worry, poor sleep and people who never allow themselves some down time are often constipated. Emotional and mental stress is a big contributing factor. When we are stressed the nerve supply to the gut is affected causing constriction and irritability resulting in either constipation or diarrhoea. Long term stress will generally result in constipation.
Other issues include:
Sluggish digestion from low stomach acid, low digestive enzymes from the pancreas, sluggish liver and gallbladder function.
Thyroid problems. Often constipation can be an early sigh of an underactive thyroid.
Imbalance of intestinal bacteria or dysbiosis.
Nutritional deficiencies, especially magnesium and B Vitamins.
Medications such as poor quality iron tablets, antacids, diuretics, pain killers, and anti-depressants.
Tips for Keeping Regular
Here are a few easy tips for keeping regular but if the problem persists then I would recommend giving the clinic a ring so we can assist in a program that is right for you.
Address diet issues, this includes also trying to identify if specific food sensitivities are an issue. Remove all processed foods and junk food. No sugar containing drinks such as soft drinks. You may need to reduce your red meat and dairy intake as these are known to contribute to constipation.
Increase your fresh vegetables and fruits as well as including whole unprocessed grains if you tolerate there. Best way to do this is to have:
4 cups of vegies per day
1 cup of fruits per day
1 cup of whole grain cereals per day.
Drink adequate fluids, at least 8 glasses of clean filtered water if possible. You may include spring water, herbal teas, fresh juices and broths. A glass or warm water with a squeeze of lemon first thing in the morning is a great way to stimulate digestion and your bowel function.
Exercise and allow enough time to have a bowel movement as I mentioned before.
If stress is a problem then finding ways to manage this is critical. Relaxation techniques, meditation and yoga may help. You may need a good magnesium supplement to help the bowel deal with this stress.
Acupuncture can also help by stimulating specific meridian points to improve bowel transit time.
I would recommend a series of colonics. Colon hydrotherapy is a gentle cleanse of the colon with warm water that is gravity fed, this helps remove built up waste as well as tone the bowel muscle. This is an excellent alternative to chemical enemas and laxatives. For more information on how colonics may benefit you please call the clinic.
It is also important to identify if nutrient deficiencies maybe contributing to you specific constipation. Professional advice regarding herbal remedies, as well as addressing parasites, dysbiosis and leaky gut are all important.
Constipation is a problem that is as individual as you are. You may require a more individual approach than what I have suggested above. Please contact either naturally Dynamic Health or DynamiColonics on 0260210557 and arrange an appointment.