Constipation is considered one of the most common gastrointestinal complaint at a doctors office, yet it is a topic that hardly gets discussed because many people find it embarrassing to talk about their poop! There I said it! POO! Irregular bowel movements can make you feel bloated and add inches to your waistline and cause great discomfort. Constipation is medically defined as having one or more of the following signs:
Fewer than 3 bowel movements a week
Hard stools that are difficult to pass
Excessive straining during bowel movement
Feeling incomplete evacuation even after you have had a bowel movement
Symptoms such as those listed above can suggest constipation, however, as a Naturopathic Doctor, I believe that that ideally a person should have 3 bowel movements a day! This may stress out many of you as most people do not even have 1 movement a day! The alarming fact is that most people only have 3 bowel movements per week! This may be normal for someone but it is certainly not healthy!
Consider this, we have 3 or more meals a day and if we only eliminate once or every other day or for some only once a week where is all the waste matter hiding? Food should go through your digestive tract and be broken down, nutrients absorbed and then solid wastes should move. If you are constipated, it can be a clue of poor digestion and lifestyle choice and it should be addressed. Poor digestion and constipation can be easily treated with changes in lifestyle and diet.
Here are some simple things that can help get your sluggish system moving and help get you unplugged.
Drink Lots of Water
The majority of our body is made up of water so it should be no surprise that water is important for lubricating our intestines and it helps dietary fibre do its job by bulking up fibre in the bowels to promote bowel movement. Rule of thumb- take your weight and divide by 2 and multiple by 8oz glass of water should be the amount of water you should take in daily. eg. If you weigh 120. Take 120/2= 60/8 =7.5 glasses of water.
Make time for it! A lot of times we are on the go and we just don’t let our bodies relax. It is the relaxed state that our parasympathetic nervous system (the system that governs bowels) works best in. Make a habit of training your bowels at a certain time each day and sit on the porcelain throne to train your body.
Chew your food at least 10-30 times! Chewing your food throughly helps to not only improve your digestion but also helps moves your bowels. Digestion actually begins in your mouth by the mechanical break down of food by your teeth and the enzymes found in your saliva. But properly breaking down your food first the less stress you place on your stomach.
Eat your veggies and fruit. Dietary fibre, particularly insoluble fibre, can help to prevent and relieve constipation. Insoluble fibre absorbs water in the intestinal tract which helps produce bulkier and softer stools that are easy to pass.
Squatting is actually the physiologically proper position to do your business. Squatting helps relax and straighten your rectal muscles. Don’t worry you don’t have to ditch your toilet. You can simply use a stool and place your feet on the stool so that your knees are slightly higher than your bum, this will put you into the proper position for.
If none of these suggestions help you get regular, consider seeing a healthcare practitioner to check for food intolerances or sensitivities and for a proper work up. Also, be familiar with what is normal for you, and be aware of changes. Any sudden or drastic change in your bowel movements or stools be sure to speak to your healthcare practitioner.