Written by Natalia Hnatiw
Chances are that most of you are constipated to some degree. Did you know that the average 45-year-old person has about 10lbs of built up fecal matter in their colon? That’s a lot of poop. This lack of elimination can largely be blamed for years of inadequate water and dietary fiber intake, as well as the predominant SAD (Standard American Diet) that many people adhere to. Other factors that lead to constipation include drug use, iron supplements, environmental toxicity, lack of exercise and stress. It’s no wonder that the majority of us constipated.
Are you under the perception that Everybody is different, and there is no set “normal” when it comes to passing stool? If you’re eating three regular meals a day, you should be going three times a day. If you’re going less than that you’re constipated, plain and simple. Not eliminating as much as one should leads to a buildup of toxins in the body that have nowhere to go, and these toxins simply circulate throughout the body. The sad fact is that many people are constipated their entire lives and think it’s normal. The way your poop looks is also very important in determining how healthy you are. Here’s a chart to put it in perspective: http://www.healthworks.my/infographic-shit-poop/
The Many Problems of Constipation
The interesting thing about the colon is that it is a reflex organ, meaning that each section of the colon corresponds to a different part of the body. Did you know that the majority of migraine headaches are caused by a toxic colon? Over 90 percent of all human illness and disease begins with a congested colon, which is why it is so important to keep ourselves clean.
Constipation can lead to many conditions including:
Halitosis (bad breath)
Lower Back pain
Skin, hair, nail problems
So what can you do to keep yourself regular while decreasing the risk of any of the above conditions? The first thing I tell my clients is that they need to drink enough water and eat fiber-rich foods. Sounds simple enough. Fiber is important because it gets things moving, but if you’re not drinking enough water, it can have the opposite effect and clog you right up. On a side note, how much water should you be drinking? The average person should drink about 2-3 liters of filtered water every day, depending on their weight and activity level. If you’re eating a well-rounded diet that is predominantly fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, you’re probably getting the allotted 25 to 40 grams of fiber that is recommended for optimal health.
If you are still having trouble, you could be low in magnesium. This important mineral relaxes the muscles in the intestines and helps stimulate peristalsis in the colon. Magnesium also attracts water in the colon, which helps to soften stool and makes it easier to pass. I recommend supplementing your diet with magnesium glycinate as it is the most absorbable. If you are still experiencing irregularities, there a certain herbs and fiber supplements that can help normalize the process.
Colon Toning and Cleansing Herbs:
Cascara Sagrada is one of the most popular colon cleansing herbs used today. It contains the compound anthraquinone that works as an herbal laxative. This herb also helps to stimulate bile production in the liver, which speeds up the removal of toxins from your system. However, there are some adverse effects with cascara that you need to be aware of. According to the United States National Library of Medicine, use of cascara in the recommended doses for a limited period of time has been associated with a few side effects, most of which are mild and transient. With longer term use of high doses of cascara, there have been several cases of liver damage.
Slippery Elm is an all-purpose herb that is beneficial for the entire intestinal tract. It is very effective for both constipation and diarrhea. This amazing herb normalizes the stool while it soothes, coats and heals the lining of your intestines.
Turkey Rhubarb, traditionally used in Chinese medicine, also contains anthraquinone which promote bowel movements. This herb also contains tannins, which relieve diarrhea and reduce inflammation in the colon.
Colon Friendly Fibers:
Psyllium contains a category of fiber called mucilage. When mucilage enters the digestive tract it absorbs water. It then swells, making the stools in the colon bulkier. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day while taking any fiber supplement. If you don’t, you run the risk of obstructing the colon and making your constipation worse.
Ground flax and chia seeds are both soluble and insoluble fibers and are very soothing to the digestive tract. Want proof? Just add a little water to them and wait a few minutes. They turn into a gel solution that glides easily through the body and helps with colon cleansing. Flax and chia also contain healthy fats, which are important for regular bowel movements and overall health.
What about bran? I know some of you may be under the impression that bran is the best fiber out there, but that is only because it has been heavily marketed as such. How many of you eat All-Bran cereal on a daily basis and still experience digestive/intestinal issues? Bran is actually the leftover waste from the processing of wheat. It is low in nutritional value, and as a fiber supplement, does more harm than good. It is an irritating roughage that can cause damage to the intestinal lining. Bran also contains phytic acid which can leach minerals from the body, including calcium. This is definitely a fiber you want to avoid.
What’s as important as the frequency of your bowel movements is the ease in which you move your bowel. If you need to push or strain, then something is wrong, it should be easy and not too messy. Pay attention to any changes in your bowel habits. Anxiety is one of the causes of colon problems, because we are hanging on to things when we are anxious and tightening up our body. Start to implement the suggestions above to have healthy bowel movements!