Are you Constipated?
(Written by Natalia Hnatiw)
Chances are, you are constipated. 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 on years of inadequate water and dietary fiber intake, as well as the predominant Standard American Diet (SAD) that many people adhere to. Other factors contributing to constipation include drug use, iron supplements, environmental toxicity, stress and lack of exercise. It’s no wonder that the majority of us are constipated.
Are you under the perception that everyone is different, and there is no set “normal” when it comes to passing stool? If you’re eating three regular meals a day, ideally you should be going three times a day. If you are going less than that, you may be constipated. Not eliminating as much as one should leads to a buildup of toxins in the body, and these toxins simply circulate throughout the body. The sad fact is that many people are constipated their entire lives, thinking that 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 into perspective:
The Many Problems of Constipation
The trouble begins when your colon is compacted and ballooned with accumulated fecal matter. 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. For example, 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 and decrease 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, making it easier to pass. I recommend taking magnesium glycerinate, 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 compounds called anthroquinones that work as an herbal laxative and helps to strengthen the muscle tone of the walls of the colon. This herb also helps to stimulate bile production in the liver, which speeds up the removal of toxins from your system. Cascara sagrada’s laxative action irritates the intestinal lining and should not be used by those with any type of intestinal condition, acute or chronic. Due to the loss of water and electrolytes through the stool, it should not be used by people taking heart medication and diuretics. All medications may not be absorbed as well when cascara is being used.
Children and the elderly should not use cascara sagrada. Nursing mothers should not use it because the laxative components will transfer into the breast milk. Cascara’s intestinal stimulation may also cause uterine contractions in pregnant women. It can make your colon lazy and should not be used for longer than 8-10 days at a time.
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, it also contains anthraquinones, 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. When it does this, it 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 this is only because it has been so heavily marketed. 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 any nutritional value, and as a fiber supplement, does more harm than good. It is irritating roughage that can cause damage to the intestinal lining. Bran also contains phytic acid, which leaches minerals from the body, including calcium. This is definitely a fiber you want to avoid.
Natalia is offering complementary Iris Analysis with her nutrition sessions. Your eyes are not only the window to your soul, they reflect past, present and future health. Book your nutrition session today!