We know it can be embarrassing to talk about, but it’s important that we do.
Bowel movements are part of our heath basics. But many of us don’t fully understand what is not normal and what to do about it if it happens to us.
That’s okay – because we are going to talk about it now!
– not having a bowel movement every day
– having a difficult time making a bowel movement
– and/or having uncomfortable bowel movements
– hard and/or small stools
– feeling you aren’t able to empty your bowels completely
It can be a situation that happens occasionally (for example, rice and cheese can be culprits) or one that is chronic. It’s important to know that occasional constipation can be normal, but long- term or more frequent issues can lead to things such as, but not limited to:
– weight gain
– hormonal imbalances
– long-term GI diseases
– colo-rectal cancer
So let’s take a deeper look at constipation – how it happens and what to do about it.
The first thing we need to do, is discuss how our food is digested so we understand what is happening with our bodies.
Here’s a step by step of how it works:
1. Food and beverages that we intake reach the stomach and spend some time there while our stomach acid breaks it all down.
2. It then travels through to the small intestine where bile from both the liver and gallbladder mix with the stomach contents. In the small intestine, nutrients and vitamins from food and drinks are absorbed into the bloodstream and toxins and waste is pushed through to the large intestine for elimination.
3. Toxins that are not eliminated (either because there is not enough bile produced by the liver and/or gallbladder or because it sits in the small intestine too long) cycle back through the blood stream and are then detoxified in the liver. If toxins are not eliminated, they can become stagnant and build up in the body.
This is why a bowel movement every day is so important!
Ridding our bodies of toxins such as, but not limited to:
– metabolic waste
– synthetic chemicals that mimic estrogen
– food dyes
cleanses our systems so they do not get built up and create disease. Who wants that stuff sitting in our bodies?!
But why do you get constipated?
There are a variety of reasons for this.
In eastern medicine, constipation is associated with stagnant chi (or energy) in the liver. And issues with the liver are associated with built up anger and stress. Do you feel either of those?
In addition, constipation can be the effect of:
– lack of fiber
– too little exercise
– not enough good gut bacteria
– certain medications
– some diseases such as diabetes, lupus, IBS, and thyroid issues in addition to other causes – many times attributed to diet and lifestyle.
If we suffer from it, what can we do about it?
Following are healthy and natural treatments for dealing with constipation:
Diet & Fiber – a main source of help! Focus on including more fiber and water soluble food and beverages into your everyday diet. Leafy green vegetables, beans, lentils, and other fiber rich fruits and vegetables can help move waste along.
Fiber is important because it expands and contracts the colon walls to allow waste to push through the intestines easily. While little fiber in foods such as a candy bar will just sit in the colon, fiber-rich foods such as broccoli and sweet potatoes will help waste travel quickly through the area.
Hydrate – water is important to constipation
for smooth and soft bowel movements. Make sure your colon isn’t dehydrated by drinking plenty of healthy and non-sugary beverages.
Supplements – give your body some support! Magnesium is a well-known stool softener (you’ll know when you take too much because your stool will be too loose) and milk thistle can increase bile in both the liver and gallbladder.
One of our favorites is Buffered Magnesium Chelate by Designs for Health, which is magnesium glycinate. Magnesium citrate is also a good form of magnesium and the key is to start slow (1-2 capsules before bed) and slowly increase every 3rd or 4th day until having a regular bowel movement. If you bowels get too loose then cut back. If 3-4 pills aren’t enough, then we may need to look at some other causes of the constipation.
In addition, one supplement that we find especially helpful is Liver C™ by Mountain Peak Nutritionals® that increases bile to detoxify the body. This can be helpful for everyday detox of toxins or even as a gentle body cleanse after a few days of unhealthy eating (yes, fun vacation, we are talking about you!).
You may notice slight detox symptoms for the first few days such as headache and low energy, but you also may find an increase in bowel movements ridding the body of
all the bad stuff!
Acupuncture – if your chi is stagnant in your liver or other digestion area, acupuncture can unclog that energy and get it moving again. You may find emotional relief as well from the effect of releasing this built up energy.
Movement – get the body moving as well as that waste sitting in your colon! Movement encourages proper chi flow, healthy bile creation, and easy and consistent bowel movements. Many notice an increase in bowel movements during or after exercise – that’s a good sign the body is moving toxins out!
Walking, running, hiking, weight training, cardio, sports, and yoga, if done on a regular basis, can be an important and healthy way to eliminate waste.
Pro and PreBiotics – get your belly feeling good! Probiotics increase the amount of good bacteria. Prebiotics are fiber that probiotics eat which increases the population of good bacteria in the gut. Together, they are powerful helpers to healthy bowel movements.
In addition to these options, a customized treatment plan can be created by Dr. Graves to ease your constipation suffering.
If you live in Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Lone Tree, Highlands Ranch, Centennial, Parker, Larkspur, Monument, Colorado Springs, or the Greater Denver Metro area and suffer from constipation, schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation here with Dr. Graves to talk about your symptoms and how our office can help or contact us at (303) 688-6698.
You don’t have to be frustrated with the bathroom. Instead, find a solution that is natural, healthy, and works. No need to be embarrassed anymore.