You might have had a listen to one of the latest Low Tox Life Podcasts, Show #176 Zhenya Gerson on the ins and outs of colonics. And if you’re wanting more on poop we have two other shows – Podcast Show #1: The Poopcast with Helen Padarin on all things poop-related and Podcast Show #44: Constipation Poop Cast with Lynda Griparic on constipation.
If pooping regularly is a struggle for you, here’s the perfect post to help you alleviate that discomfort and begin to look into what might be going on – it’s important that I preface this though, with going to see your doctor if these sorts of modifications don’t move things alone – I’m a huge fan of the ‘rule outs’ that a good doctor can give you when you check-in with them.
Before we dive into the solutions, it’s a good idea to understand exactly what causes constipation in the first place. I asked Steph, our in-house Naturopath, to give us some tips.
How’s Your Gut-Brain Connection?
Odd question, right? But the link between our brain and our digestive system is unparalleled. Feelings of anxiety and stress have been proven to affect our digestive function, and vice versa. You know that feeling of “butterflies” that can trigger a reaction in your belly. That’s what we’re talking about. Typically in times of fear or stress, we drop into the sympathetic nervous system and the body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode. What happens here is that the blood drains from body systems it deems unnecessary and focuses on fueling the heart. Typically you’ll empty your bowels or shut them down like pushing the emergency button on a speeding train. Everything comes to a hault. If you commonly have constipation, it’s worth addressing how you perceive stress day-to-day. Which leads me to tip one.
TIP #1 BREATHE
Sounds simple, but how often do you take deep breaths right down deep into your belly? This should be your norm, but some people can go through a whole day without taking a deep breath! Simply breathing into your diaphragm will activate your parasympathetic nervous system and pull your body right out of ‘fight or flight’ mode – bowels don’t work in fight or flight mode, so relaxing is KEY.
What’s your daily routine like?
Often we can miss the cue to use the bathroom and then the day gets away with us. Are you in tune with your bowel movements? Ideally, you want to pass a healthy fully formed stool first thing in the morning and potentially again later in the day. If you miss that urge, then the bowels can become impacted and fermentation can occur.
TIP #2 MAKE TIME TO POO
If you don’t have enough time in the morning, you feel too stressed or you don’t have the urge, trial waking up an hour earlier, drinking plenty of water (a litre or so is good), deep breathing and heading out for a morning walk. This stimulation to your muscles will help to get your bowel moving along again and after a few days, you should find the urge is more obvious, and you’ve made the time to have a bowel movement.
What’s your diet like?
It’s quite common for people to suffer from constipation and as a result cram in all the fibre their body can handle (or in most cases, can’t handle). But this might not be the best way to get things moving! If you have gut issues like dysbiosis, low stomach acid or a parasite, there may be more than just a lack of fibre causing you issues, in fact, it could be the opposite. Adding too many fibrous/cruciferous or gas-producing foods may actually damage your gut lining and impact how you digest food. This is especially common if you’re not taking time to CHEW those fibrous foods. So tip number three is …
TIP # 3 EAT PRE-DIGESTED OR WELL COOKED FOOD
If you’re feeling blocked up, add foods to your diet that are gentle on the digestive system – think soups, smoothies, well-cooked vegetables, fermented foods (in very small amounts – 2 tsp to start with is good), chia seed puddings, broths etc. Or better yet, consider a fast protocol for a few days 12-16 hours rest between eating can help reduce the load on your gut and allow food to move through the intestines with ease. Sure you can add digestive fibres like psyllium husk or ground flaxseed but go slow on the big bulk sources of fibre.
Here’s a couple of gut-friendly recipes to get you going:
- Pomegranate and Cinnamon Chia Pudding
- A simple smoothie formula
- Easy Coconut + Veggie Soup
- Luscious Bean Soup
- Pumpkin and Lentil Soup
How’s your physical posture and daily movement?
Do you sit all day? Are you getting in that daily exercise required to get the blood pumping? If you’re not getting enough blood flow into the pelvis and stimulating those muscles, your digestion system will lay pretty dormant! Likewise, sitting on the toilet doesn’t actually support your bowels emptying completely. The way Western toilets are designed creates a ‘kink’ much like a hose in the digestive tract – making it much harder for toxins to exit the body efficiently.
TIP # 4 MIX UP YOUR MOVEMENT
The first place to start here is addressing how much exercise you do. Be honest with yourself here. If you’re often constipated consider exercising daily to get things going. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, but you do want to break a sweat and get the heart rate up so that your blood is pumping to all the right places. If you’re nervous to do a class, just take yourself out for a jog or brisk walk. A study conducted on Hong Kong adolescents found a positive correlation with movement and a reduction in constipation.
Don’t forget about that posture! It’s worth investing in a stand-up desk and setting some timers throughout the day to do a lap of the office or do some stretching and realign your posture.To add to this tip consider popping a stool or a stack of old books under your feet while you’re on the toilet. This squat position is far more effective and can trigger your bowels to .. well, … open!
Is there an underlying condition?
If you’re regularly constipated and you’re doing all the right things, you might want to look a little at the root cause of what’s going on for you. There are a few common health-related conditions that can cause constipation, and they’re worth addressing with your doctor and naturopath.
TIP #5 ADDRESS UNDERLYING ISSUES
A good place to start is requesting blood tests and a comprehensive stool test to rule out any immediate issues. Ask you, practitioner, to consider hormonal issues like low progesterone, thyroid issues like hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency and stress, dehydration, food intolerances and allergies, low stomach acid, Imbalance in bowel bacteria, inflammatory bowel disease, history of eating disorders, or even taking constipating supplements like iron.
Hopefully, there are some golden nuggets (hehe the puns are too easy!) to get your bowels moving once again!
Have we missed any tips that have worked for you? Share with us below.
Low Tox. Happy Poop. Happy you.