This may be a taboo topic, but to me, this is one of the most important issues that many people suffer from – CONSTIPATION. Information is power and according to the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology, approximately one million Canadians a year suffer from CONSTIPATION.
Even more interesting is that conventional medicine’s definition of constipation is 1 bowel movement every 2-3 days. Very mind blowing! In actual fact, we should really be having 2-3 bowel movements per day which should bring the approximate number constipation sufferers substantially higher.
Healthy bowel movements are essential for optimal health. Our bodies need to be constantly cleansing from the daily toxins that enter the blood stream and harm the body.
What is Constipation?
- Irregular bowel movements
- Less than 2 bowl movements per day
- Dry, hard or lumpy stools
- Incomplete evacuation – feeling like you still need to go
- Finding it difficult to pass stool
Constipation has many negative effects on the body
- Raising your risk of colon cancer (Watanabe et al., 2004).
- You are 4 times more likely to develop breast cancer (Petrakis & King, 1981).
- Causing pressure in the bowels which can stimulate the growth of cancer cells (Walsh et al., 2004).
- Causing psychological distress, anxiety, depression, insomnia and sexual dysfunction (Tan et al., 2003)
- Causing antointoxication (toxic substances from bowels are absorbed into the bloodstream). Autoinoxication has been linked to a long list of health problems i.e. depression and serious skink problems (Person & Bernhard, 1986).
What Causes Constipation?
There are many different reasons for constipation but what is comes down to is unhealthy lifestyle choices.
A Poor Diet
- Referred to as C.R.A.P – Coffee, Refined sugar and starch, Alcohol and Processed food
Lack of Fibre
- 30-40 grams of fibre per day is required, more people only get 15 grams a day or less
- Years of low fibre causes lazy colon muscles
Lack of water
- Most people are dehydrated. You should be drinking 8-10 glasses or half your body weight in ounces. Increase water even more if you workout and sweat regularly
- Canadians do not consume enough Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s).
- EFA’s are only found in raw nuts, seeds and cold water fish.
- EFA’s are required daily for lubrication of intestinal system.
Lack of Exercise
- Exercise stimulates lymphatic flow and helps peristalsis (muscular movement in the intestines/colon).
- The lymph system is a pumpless system that relies on body movement to circulate.
Many medications can cause constipation including
- Pain medications
- Cholesterol lowering drugs
- Antibiotics – killing good bacteria which must be present for a good environment in the colon.
Changes in Routine or Diet
- Travel, sickness or making a change to your diet can alter your bowel function.
Lack of time
- People with busy schedules rushing around not having enough time to properly eliminate.
So how do you prevent constipation and achieve 2-3 bowel movements a day?
- Change your Diet – remove fast foods, refined starches, sugar and processed foods in your diet. Add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Eat more Fibre – SOLUBLE and INSULUBLE. Soluble Fibre works by absorbing toxins (like a sponge), soaking up toxins as it passes. Examples of soluble fibre is Oats, dried beans, nuts, barley, Flax seed, Fruits like oranges and apples, carrots, psyllium husk. Insoluble Fibre has a cleansing effect like a scrub brush removing toxins and old hardened material for the intestinal wall, it also controls balances the pH (acidity) in intestines. Examples of Insoluble Fibre include green beans, dark green leafy vegetables, fruit skins, whole wheat products, seeds and nuts.
- Lubricate Properly with EFA’s – nuts, seeds and cold water fish.
- Supplement with Probiotics – probiotics are live bacteria that live in a person’s GI tract. These bacteria help the process of digestion and help keep the flora inside the GI tract balanced. Probiotics have been shows to reduce diarrhea and helpful for individuals who have IBS, Crohn’s, Colitis parasites and candida.
- Prop Eliminating Positioning – modern toilets today are most often than not too high. The natural and anatomically correct position for elimination in humans is more of a ‘squatting’ position. If you watch children still in diapers you will see them squat naturally when they have a bowl movement. Just this alone can cause hemorrhoids, IBS, Constipation and Appendicitis. USE a step stool or phone book to position yourself properly while on the toilet.
Signs of Good Elimination
Generally your stool should be a walnut brown. You may experience temporary discolouration when you eat certain foods i.e. beets or dark green vegetables.
Consistency and Length
Consistency should be similar to toothpaste and length of a banana. Many people produce small hard, pellet fecal matter, this is not healthy! This is showing lack of water and fibre.
At minimum, you should have one good bowl movement per day, but 2-3 is ideal for optimal health
Gas and Odour
Gas is the natural by-product of digestion. However a lot of gas is not normal, nor should it be foul smelling.
Sink or Float
Healthy stool should leave the body easily, settle in the water and gently submerge. If there is not enough daily fibre the stool will quickly sink to the bottom of the toilet. If the stool floats it’s usually due to too much undigested fat.
I hope this was helpful because it is so important to share information on some of the most awkward topics. Nothing is taboo when it comes to health and wellness. 🙂