Yes I said it! It’s that pesky uncomfortable word that affects millions every day. It’s not something that most people want to talk about, but is so necessary. Some people may feel they’re constipated after only 1-2 days of not using the bathroom, but in the medical field constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week.
What is constipation?
- Too hard of stool.
- Too small of stool.
- Hard to push out.
- Incomplete evacuation of stool.
- Having fewer than 3 bowel movements per week.
So what causes constipation?
- Poor diet.
- Lack of water.
- Resisting the urge to go.
- Traveling somewhere new.
- Milk products.
- Anxiety, depression, or stress.
- Eating disorders.
- Poor sleeping habits.
- Drinking alcohol.
- Magnesium deficiency.
- Diseases of the digestive system such as cancer or a bowel obstruction.
- Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, or stroke.
- Pelvic floor muscle problems.
- Hormone changes such as diabetes, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, and hyperparathyroidism.
- Medications such as antihistamines, opiates, antidepressants, antacids, high blood pressure medications, calcium pills, iron pills, some high cholesterol medications, diuretics, and overusing laxatives.
What can you do?
- Drink at least 8 glasses of filtered water per day.
- Eat high fiber containing foods. The recommended amount per day is 20-35 grams. If you’re not used to a high fiber diet, you may experience bloating and gas in the beginning.
- Eat less animal protein. Plants are easier to digest.
- Avoid milk products. Milk can cause digestive problems.
- Avoid processed foods & fast food.
- Avoid foods that can cause constipation: red meat, bananas, milk products, alcohol, gluten & processed grains.
- Eat foods high in magnesium such as cacao, nuts/seeds, avocados, figs, prunes, grapefruit, spinach, Swiss chard, and legumes.
- Take probiotics. L. Reteri, and VSL#3 are known to help.
- Take Vitamin C and B-complex Vitamins.
- Check for food allergies such as celiac disease.
- When you feel the need to go bathroom, go! Do not hold it in.
My favorite fiber rich recipes:
- Chia Seed Pudding
- Sesame Cacao balls
- Chocolate Crunch bars
- Sautéed Asparagus
- Baked Radishes & Parsnips
- Roasted Carrots
- Baked Broccoli
- Baked Sweet potatoes
- Smoothies (add pre-soaked flaxmeal or chia seeds)
Tips for a better morning routine:
- Habit training: attempt to use the bathroom every morning at the same time.
- After you brush your teeth, drink a big glass of water, followed by some type of warm liquid. Heated water with fresh lemon juice and Pink Himalayan Sea Salt is the best. If that’s not enough to get things moving, drink a cup of coffee or tea.
- Place a footstool in front of your toilet. The purpose of this is to elevate your legs to allow for better colon alignment. This will help your pelvic floor muscles to relax and allow for easier evacuation.
- Sit on the toilet and see if you can go.
- Don’t strain!! Straining will only cause hemorrhoids.
- If you can’t go, take a probiotic and drink a smoothie. Then try again.
- Don’t stress it if you can’t go every day. Diet changes take time to show results.
Still can’t go?
- Make an appointment with a Gastroenterologist.
- You may need additional testing.
- You may be prescribed a bulk-forming laxative such as Metamucil (Psyillium).
Red Flags- notify your primary care provider or go to the ER:
- If your symptoms are new or different than usual.
- If your symptoms come and go, but lasts longer than 2-3 weeks.
- If your family has a history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis).
- If you see bright red blood in your stool, toilet, or toilet paper.
- If you see black colored stool.
- If you have abdominal pain.
- If you have nausea or vomiting.
- If you haven’t had a bowel movement in 3 or more days.
- If you have a fever.
- If you feel weak or fatigued.
- If you’re losing weight without trying.
JUST EAT REAL FOOD – Stop focusing on calories & focus on what you’re eating and how it makes you feel. Your body is always giving you signals, but many times we ignore them. Pay attention if you develop nausea, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, joint pain, rashes, or cold sores. If you develop any of these things after eating, it’s a good indicator that your body is giving you a clue to stop consuming something in your food. Many times these symptoms come from consuming chemicals, artificial coloring, and preservatives. Other times these symptoms can occur from a food allergy or sensitivity. Pay attention. Creating a food diary is a really great way to help you figure out what your triggers are.
Information in this posting is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Talk to your medical provider before starting any new supplements or medications.