Most people feel uncomfortable discussing their bathroom business, especially when it comes to pooping. There I said it. Now we can move on.
It is really unfortunate that there is so much taboo surrounding your bowel movements because it is an area that can have a major impact on your daily life and long term health.
The amount of times a person should be going to the bathroom is typically underestimated. Although, the amount of times will vary depending on the health care practitioner, most holistic practitioners will suggest at least one to three bowel movements a day, preferably within a few hours of waking up. Anything less than that is considered constipation and anything more than that is too frequent.
More often than not, the majority of clients I see fall into the constipation category or fluctuate between the two. Either way, your regularity says a great deal on what’s going on inside.
Why is this such a big health concern?
When wastes do not move from the colon in a timely manner, the waste material stagnates and the toxic compounds within the waste grow. The wastes can also become impacted and adhere to the intestinal walls. In serious cases, the toxins can be reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
As a result, chronic constipation can contribute to reduced nutritional absorption, hemorrhoids, premature aging due to increased free radicals, inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid disease, colitis, and diverticulitis and even weight gain. A higher incidence of breast disease and colon cancer has also been associated with constipation.
Not just that, it can be one of the root issues to less serious problems like acne, PMS, moodiness and even low energy. Think about it, doesn’t it feel great when you have a healthy bowel movement? You feel light, energetic and ready for the day.
Imagine it being similar to your kitchen trash bin. If you didn’t take it out on a regular basis, things would really start to smell, rot and become pretty nasty in there.
Causes of Constipation/Diarrhea
Many factors can affect regularity from day to day, such as diet, travel, medications, hormonal fluctuations, sleep patterns, exercise, illness, surgery, pregnancy and childbirth, stress, over the counter anti-inflammatory medication like Ibuprofen.
If you find yourself falling into some unhealthy habits or increased frequency of any of the above factors, you may want to start making some changes in the areas you have control over like sleep, exercise, anti-inflammatory use and even certain medications. Remember to always consult with your doctor before changing/stopping any prescription medication you are on.
How to Become Regular Again
One of the biggest factors to being regular is what we put in our mouth. By making a few changes in your diet, you can notice a huge improvement in your bathroom business.
Foods to Increase
- Insoluble/Soluble Fiber*: apples, prunes, spinach, beans, berries, sweet potatoes, beets, oatmeal and avocados.
- Healthy fats: coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, ghee
- Probiotics Foods: kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented veggies, goat kefir
*When increasing fiber, make sure to increase a little at a time in a variety of different forms. Too much fiber right may cause some discomfort if your body isn’t used to eating it. A good place to start is 1 handful of veggies at each meal and increase from there.
Foods to Decrease/Avoid:
- White breads/flours,
- Nuts especially roasted, sweetened or flavored
- Cheese and most dairy
- White rice and bananas tend to be constipating even though they are considered a health food. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat them but just be mindful of how much you are consuming if you are dealing with constipation.
- Coffee/Soda/Fruit Juice: Although some of these beverages may stimulate a morning movement, they actually dry out the colon even more and can make the issue even worse.
Seems simple enough but most people are just dehydrated. Drinking half of your body weight in fluid ounces of water each day can make a big difference in your regularity. A great tip: drink a large cup of warm water with lemon upon waking to help stimulate your digestive tract.
- Most fiber supplements as they are too rough on the colon and can cause further issues including dehydration, discomfort and also deplete minerals. It is always best to get your fiber from food (especially beans and veggies).
- Laxatives: although they may seem to help at first, they do not deal with the root cause and can cause dependency. Also, they tend to become less effective the longer you take them.
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseed with unsweetened applesauce each night gives a healthy dose of both soluble and insoluble fiber to help establish regularity.
- Vitamin C can also help get your regularity on track. 1000-3000mg of vitamin C a day with food in divided doses.
- Fermented foods/Probiotics also help in achieving intestinal regularity. Just 1-2 spoonfuls of fermented veggies with your meals or 1 cap of a multi-strain probiotic with food.
Exercise helps your muscles move including your digestive tract and colon muscles. Taking a 15- to 30-minute walk per day can help stimulate intestinal activity. Or try any exercise you enjoy, such as swimming or running. A little bit can go a long way so try to get moving at least once a day
Sleep is the time of day that your body repairs and heals. Going to bed by 11 p.m. every night to ensure your body produces optimal amounts of melatonin, which can help with regular bowel movements.
- Try massaging your lower abdomen in a clockwise motion before getting out of bed in the morning to help stimulate a morning movement.
- If you are going to drink coffee, make it just one cup a day and drink towards the end of your breakfast when there is food in your stomach. The less you depend on coffee to stimulate your bowel movement, the better your regularity will be.
- When traveling, be sure to really hydrate and eat light as flying is very dehydrating to the body and set you back in terms of the bathroom for a couple days.
- If you are having too frequent of bowel movements (4+ a day), make sure you are still drinking enough water and be sure to talk to your doctor, health care practitioner or nutritionist on how to improve your regularity.
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