Constipation is not only uncomfortable it is also unhealthy. Defecation, bowel movements, pooping or whatever else you might want to call it, eliminating toxins and waste regularly from our body is vital for good health. Optimally we should be pooping at least once a day. When the infrequency of a bowel movement hits the 3-day mark this is considered constipation. At this point any bowel movements are often dry and hard and very hard to pass.
Quite simply we poop to eliminate what our body doesn’t want and the inability to poop can cause short-term issues like bloating and abdominal pain while chronic constipation can lead to hemorrhoids, anal fissures and rectal prolapse. Further to this, if our bowels are not cleared, our colon can become a breeding ground for bacteria that can have the effect of weakening our immune system.
Understanding now the importance of ‘being regular’, here are 5 tips to help avoid constipation.
1. Poop properly!
If you are not in to squatting to poop, as most westerners are not, then elevate your feet to position all of your parts in to the ideal pooping position. In our household we have just invested in Squatty Potties to help us ease our passages. Another factor of a good poop is to take your time when the moment arrives. Stress can inhibit what your body needs to get done so when nature calls, don’t rush the process.
2. Keep Yourself Well Hydrated
Water helps to keep our intestinal tract in good physical shape and aids in digestion and the passage of the food we eat. As a guideline, drink 6-8 glasses of water each day.
3. Ensure Adequate Fibre in your Diet
I encourage 30-40 grams of fibre a day. There are 2 kinds of fibre that we need in our diet to form stools and move them along. Soluble fibre, which dissolves in water and creates bulk and insoluble fibre that doesn’t dissolve but instead acts as a mover and a shaker to pass stool through the colon.
As we move, so does the food that we ingest. Exercising helps to move the food that we eat through our intestinal tract. As food moves through our intestines water is absorbed back in to the body. The slower the pace then the dryer the stool. This can contribute to constipation. Walk, run, jog whatever! Just make exercise a part of your routine.
5. Remove Foods that You are Sensitive to from your Diet
This can be a hard one to get a hold of but it is extremely important. Food sensitivities can contribute to constipation. If you experience things like bloating, fatigue or pain after you eat something this is a good sign that you may be intolerant to it. Keeping a food journal is a great tool to hone in on foods that may not be ideal for you. If you suspect intolerance, remove that food from your diet.
I have had great success with implementing the FODMAP diet for clients who suffer from constipation. The FODMAP diet eliminates various foods containing short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols to help calm symptoms of IBS.
Diet and lifestyle adjustments can go a long way in preventing and alleviating constipation and implementing the above tips can help make bathroom trips a happy and regular event.