Constipation can mean different things to different people, however ideally being regular means having between 1 and 3 bowel movements per day.
Proper digestion and elimination are essential for good health as chronic constipation can allow toxins and excess hormones to build up in the colon and be reabsorbed into the body. When this happens it can leave you feeling uncomfortable, tired, foggy and irritable.
What are the main causes of constipation?
Low water intake, low fibre diet, food intolerances, antibiotics, medication or even stress and laxatives can slow the digestive system and make the bowel sluggish.
- Not enough fluid. Start the day with a mug of hot water and lemon juice and thereafter aim to drink at least 6-8 glasses of filtered water per day. Keeping your body hydrated may help reduce the amount of water absorbed from your stools.
- Not enough fibre. Increase sources of fibre to add bulk to the stool making it easier for the body to pass. Eat a variety of fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, brown rice, whole grains, peas, sweet potato, beans, lentils, broccoli and sprouts. Focus on eating soluble fibre too, especially apples and ripe bananas.
- Lubricate. Include foods rich in essential fats, like oily fish, nuts and seeds as these help lubricate the bowel.
- Stimulate. Bitter foods such as rocket, radishes and chicory can help stimulate bile and therefore encourage peristalsis.
- Support. Sprinkle soaked linseeds onto breakfast oats or lunchtime salads, or soak 2 teaspoons in a small amount of water overnight and drink first thing in the morning. This can be slowly increased up to 2 tablespoons per day.
- Boost. Support healthy elimination by boosting your beneficial bacteria from fermented and cultured foods.
- Eliminate. Avoid white flour products, dairy and red meat; these can all produce excess mucus in the colon. White flour and water can be used for wallpaper paste, this glue-like effect is not what you want taking place in your bowel!
- Not enough exercise. At least 20 minutes a day of regular, moderate exercise will encourage motion through your gastrointestinal tract.
- Other fundamentals. Make time to go to the toilet; Raise your feet to help create a more natural squatting position; Massage the colon in circular movements from the top right hand side and always go to the toilet as soon as you feel the urge.
- Magnesium relaxes the muscles in the intestines and also attracts water into the colon therefore making it easier to pass stools. Use 200mg – 1000mg of magnesium citrate daily. Gradually increase the dose. If you take too much, you will get loose stools – if that happens, cut back.
- Vitamin C. Take between 2000mg and 4000mg per day. The same principle applies in that if you begin to get loose stools, cut it back.
- Psyllium husks. In more persistent cases try psyllium husks, a soluble fiber that soaks up water in your gut and can make bowel movements easier.
*Always consult your Nutritional Therapist before you start taking any supplements. If you are still struggling after using the above dietary and lifestyle tips, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07860472261 and book an appointment.