How to resolve constipation naturally
Not many people will know that opening your bowels less than, at least, once a day is defined as constipation. It also includes straining when going to the toilet, lumpy or hard stools when you go or having the feeling that you haven’t fully emptied your bowels when you go. Though many may think that this is really a minor problem it is actually very important that you ‘go’ at least once a day.
Daily excretion of waste is needed to remove toxins from our bodies otherwise the toxins sit in our digestive tract and can be reabsorbed into our systems. Not only that, but we also discard ‘used’ hormones in our stool and these too can be reabsorbed if they sit in the gut for too long and thus contribute to hormonal imbalance issues. We remove excess water in our stool too. In order to poo daily we need a good transit time through our gut, if this is too fast we get diarrhoea, if it is too slow we become constipated. Either of these are bad for our systems as we either don’t get chance to absorb the nutrients that we need from our food or we reabsorb waste products. In addition, food starts to putrefy the longer it sits inside us and this feeds bad bacteria leading to an imbalance and foul smelling stools and flatulence. Something which none of us want!
It is reported that only 50% of people poo daily. So, what can be the cause for this?
- Lack of fibre
- Lack of exercise
- Some medications
- Imbalance in gut bacteria
- Dehydration or low intake of water
- Low thyroid activity
- Poor liver function
- Excessive intake of milk and dairy or lactose intolerance
- Lack of the mineral magnesium
- Slow transit times in the bowel
So, what can we do ourselves to improve this and prevent constipation?
Natural Ways to Aid / Prevent Constipation
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day
- Eat kiwi’s – they are full of fibre and vitamin C, both of which help to keep your bowel moving
- Eat more vegetables and wholegrains that are full of fibre so aid movement of stools through the gut
- Eat chickpeas, lentils and beans as a source of fibre if you can tolerate them. For some people these cause flatulence. Soak them overnight to reduce this effect
- Eat prunes, apricots or figs – again a source of fibre but take care with these as they are high in sugar. Eat with some nuts to reduce the effect of the sugar
- Take a probiotic or eat yogurt with beneficial bacteria in
- Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut or kefir
- Eat flaxseed (linseed) – 1 tablespoon per day as a source of fibre. Add to salads or a smoothie
- Listen to your body – if it says it’s time to go to the loo, go! Do not put it off, if you ignore it the lower end of your bowel gets stretched and with time will eventually stop responding properly.
- Exercise regularly – this increases transit time
- Eat magnesium rich foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds
- Avoid stress or try to reduce it – try going for a walk, taking a bath or yoga
If none of these help you can try psyllium husks either in powder or tablet form. Either way they must be taken with a large glass of water afterwards. Using laxatives is not always the best option. They can make the bowel lazy as the muscles rely on the laxatives to contract rather than work themselves.
A note of caution
Of course, we have to be very careful about any changes in bowel habits as changes can indicate more serious issues. If ever you have any mucus or blood in your stools in particular you must go and see your GP to have them, or your change in bowel habits, investigated further.
If you would like a specific review of your individual circumstances, as constipation is rarely the only symptom, please contact us now on 0800 024 8460 or book your session with a Food Physio nutritional therapist. That way a dietary plan tailor made for you can be designed to take all of your problems into consideration.