Lynda: It’s a common problem that most avoid talking about. I on the other hand, love discussing constipation, particularly because it can be a big indicator of your current health. Constipation has many causes, from poor diet and fluid intake to the presence of a pathogen (bacteria, fungi), emotional imbalance and so on.
This article will focus on “WHAT YOU CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW” and delve into causes at a later date.
Here Are My Top 15 Ways To Get The Bowels Moving…
1) Express Yourself – Holding onto past memories or emotions can lead to anxiety and amplify stress. During stressful times it is common to hold onto our poo as well. In Chinese medicine the large intestine AKA our garbage collector, and the lungs when out of balance are associated with an inability to grieve and let go. As a result our bowel movements become sluggish and we store and recycle our waste, collecting toxins, bad breath and all sorts of funky conditions along the way.
2) Fibre - Every meal should contain a portion of fibrous food such as brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, berries and avocado. Fibre helps move waste through our digestive system and is also food for your gut bacteria. A healthy, diverse gut flora is important for regular bowel movements.
3) Prebiotics, Resistant Starch & Probiotics – These guys are food and fertilizer for gut bacteria. Stimulating their growth and encouraging regular bowel movements. Good sources are asparagus, artichokes, green (raw) banana, brown rice (that has cooled down), kombucha, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi and apple cider vinegar. Gradually include probiotics such as fermented veggies, sauerkraut and kimchi otherwise you might experience digestive upset such as wind while the gut adjusts to a new bacterial environment. Start with 1 tsp with meals, increasing to 1 tbsp.
4) Water – Purified water has the power to nudge poo out from your colon. The amount will depend on your activity levels but as a general rule aim for 1.5 litres daily. Add ¼ tsp of Himalayan salt to your water to enhance absorption. Fluids should be warm or room temperature. Warmth loosens, unblocks and welcomes muscle relaxation. Cold seizes and constricts.
5) Routine – Routine can dramatically improve constipation. To promote a healthy evacuation, you’re morning may look like this; 1tbsp of apple cider vinegar in warm water upon rising, followed by a smoothie rich in fats and fibre. Relax for 15 minutes post brekky, calmly plan your day ahead, read a blog post or engage in calm conversation. I stand following brekkie and read a blog post. Standing helps move things along faster than sitting.
6) Herbs & Spices – Certain herbs and spices nourish the organs of digestion and elimination, such as the liver, kidneys, stomach and spleen. This in turn improves overall breakdown of foods and can dislodge the waste that clings to your intestinal walls. Add them to your meals, smoothies, tea, slow cooking and salads daily. My favourites are turmeric, cayenne, ginger, oregano, black pepper, rosemary, coriander seeds, cloves and cumin.
7) Yin Yoga – Yin Yoga works on improving the health of organs, bones, joints, connective tissue, fascia and mind and incorporates breathwork. A class that works on the lungs and large intestine is a good example of how yin can unlock constipated colon doors. If you have been holding onto grief and are unable to let go and move forward in life, supporting these organs can dramatically change this current reality.
8) Standing Desks – Sitting, particularly after eating can slow digestion down because it compresses the abdominal organs. Sluggish digestion, can lead to constipation and an imbalance in your gut microbiome (gut flora), according to Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease. Try standing or using a standing desk post meals instead.
9) Breathwork – When the flow of breath is laboured or short. It is physically impossible to let go. The mind becomes agitated, stress and anxiety are amplified and not enough “life-force”, space and nutrients get to areas in your body like your digestive system. Without breath, there is tension, blockage and resistance. 10 minutes of breathwork daily can help regulate bowel movements. I find deep belly breathing to be most helpful.
10) Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple Cider Vinegar improves the production of stomach acid, which means a more effective breakdown and absorption of foods and better elimination of waste. Aim for 1 tbsp of ACV in warm water upon rising or 10 minutes before meals.
11) Healthy Fats – Our intestinal cell walls are made up of fat, therefore they need fats to function well. Healthy fats such as coconut, olive and macadamia oil, avocado, oily fish, butter, nuts and seeds lubricate the bowels and help move waste through the colon.
12) Ileocecal Valve Massage – Sometimes the ileocecal valve, located between the small intestine and large intestine does not work well, which can lead to a backlog of poo in the small intestine and constipation. Dr David Williams explains how to massage reflex points to improve its function here.
13) Magnesium – Magnesium is a muscle, (intestinal wall muscles included) and nervous system relaxant, making it perfect for constipation, stress and anxiety. I use magnesium bisglycinate as it is absorbed well and therefore gets to the areas I want to target before conducting its magic.
14) Avoid excessive protein - Stick to a palm portion of quality protein per meal. Undigested protein can putrefy (rot) in the bowel and stimulate the growth of bacteria. This toxicity can over-burden the liver, reducing it’s ability to effectively remove toxins and metabolic waste from the body. This can lead to chronic disease. Excess protein can also over-tax the stomach, reducing its ability to produce enough stomach acid to digest and use nutrients well.
15. Squat or use a squatting platform - When we use the common seated toilet we push poo up, against gravity. Squatting or using a squat platform such as Squatty Potty allows for a more natural angle and pressure. This straightens the anorectal angle and unkinks the sigmoid colon and creates an easier passage for poo to leave the colon.
This article is brought to you by Lynda. She is a fully qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist with over 13 years of experience in the health industry. Lynda specialises in detoxification and weight loss. She has extensive experience in running healthy, effective and sustainable weight loss programs and has expertise in investigating and treating the underlying causes of weight gain and metabolic problems. If you would like to book a consultation with Lynda, CLICK HERE
- The current trends and future perspectives of prebiotics research: a review
- Alteration of Gut Microbiota and Efficacy of Probiotics in Functional Constipation
- Review on microbiota and effectiveness of probiotics use in older
- Association between dietary fiber, water and magnesium intake and functional constipation among young Japanese women.
- Case study to evaluate a standing table for managing constipation
- Diets for Constipation
- Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect
- Indian Spices for Healthy Heart
- Recommendations on chronic constipation
- BIOFEEDBACK THERAPY FOR CONSTIPATION IN ADULTS
- The use of abdominal muscle training, breathing exercises and abdominal massage to treat paediatric chronic functional constipation.