We don't like to talk about this, but it is so important that we be real with a topic like this! Pooping is so important! 😂 Okay, I am breaking the ice from the get-go, getting all awkward uncomfortable feelings out of the way. 💩 This is a normal part of life when you think about it.
Most of us do not have optimal bowel movements. Did you know we should be have a healthy bowel movement minimum 1x a day? Optimal would be 2-3x a day. But lets start with small improvements, and focus on increasing bowel movements gradually.
It is extremely common to "go" once every 3-4 days, and some even going only 1x a week. Correcting this problem from the root is not going to happen overnight. Laxatives are needed at times to get the stuff out, because the less we go, the more toxins accumulate in our body. But laxatives are just a quick band-aid fix. To really get things moving naturally, the gut needs to be repaired.
There are soooo many factors that can cause constipation, that treating the root cause can be tricky, so I suggest working with a naturopath, functional medicine Dr., or holistic Dr. to find your root cause. Some common causes of constipation can be:
Lack of fiber
Gut dysbiosis (an imbalance in good bacteria vs pathogenic bacteria)
Poor alignment (see your chiropractor!)
Poor digestion (you don't chew your food enough before swallowing, you eat too fast, or you aren't making enough digestive enzymes)
The use of certain medications
Eating too any omega 6 fats from oxidized vegetable oils, or eating a diet high in processed foods, sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and synthetic additives
Stress, which has an immediate affect on digestion
Inactivity and lack of exercise
Thyroid or hormonal imbalances
Bad "toilet posture" (you should be in more of a squatting position, try a squatty potty!)
Lack of sleep
As you can see there is a long list of root causes of constipation, and this list doesn't even cover every possible root cause.
Eliminating your bowels is so important because this is the final phase of detoxification. Whatever toxins are not eliminated get recirculated in the body. If you have trouble going everyday, it can be helpful to use a sauna, or to workout so you sweat a lot, since sweating is another way we rid our body of toxins.
So, what can we do to fix this??
I am going to give you a few simple diet/lifestyle tips you can try to aid in achieving regular bowel movements. Again, if this is a chronic problem, you may benefit the most from seeing one of the types of doctors I mentioned above to get to your root cause.
5 tips to improve constipation:
Start the day with a large glass of warm water with the juice of one lemon, and 1/2 tsp sea salt. This salt flush can get things moving, and also provide some hydration and minerals to start the day. Throughout the day, make sure you are staying hydrated. I recommend getting a large glass or insulated water bottle that you can be accountable to filling up and sipping on all throughout the day. They say you should have half you body weight in water each day, but it is important to include electrolytes in your water so you can actually hydrate yourself. Sea salt and lemon juice all throughout the day in your water can keep you hydrated. Just a pinch of salt will do. 👍🏼
2. Olive oil trick This is an old remedy that for some is just the ticket! Swallow 1 TBSP of unfiltered extra virgin olive oil each morning first thing. I don't know if this is part of the science behind this, but it makes things slippery! 😂 This translates into an easier time "going."
3. Consume prebiotics and probiotics every single day
We need prebiotic fiber to get things moving, and it's very easy to fall into a low-fiber diet. Prebiotic fiber is best because it feeds gut microbes, leading to greater diversity in your gut microbiome, which is needed for overall immune and digestive health. Basically, prebiotics are the food for probiotics. Good sources of prebiotics include: asparagus, onions, garlic, leeks, radishes, sunchokes, green bananas and plantains, cooked and cooled potatoes or rice (resistant starch), to name a few.
Probiotics are the actual strains of bacteria that you want to inoculate your gut with. Taking a probiotic supplement, or eating fermented foods (naturally occurring probiotics, like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, beet kvass, kombucha, kefir...) will help increase your gut microbiome, improving digestion and aiding in getting things moving.
4. Consume insoluble fiber
This type of fiber adds "bulk" to your stool, and helps push things out. It does not dissolve in water and is left intact and undigested, helping to speed up the passage of food through the stomach and intestine. Good sources are berries, cruciferous vegetables (which also help clear the body of excess estrogen) like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, leafy greens and cocoa to name a few. Chia seeds are also very high in fiber and can help get things moving. Soak 2-3 TBSP of chia seeds in water overnight, and consume in the morning. The chia will have absorbed all the liquid and become thick, so drink a full glass of water after consuming the seeds.
5. Take magnesium oxide
This is more of a band-aid fix, and I don't recommend doing this regularly, but magnesium can be really good to give you a deep cleanout, and also help you lose some water weight. Magnesium works by improving gut motility. This can helpful when you are just stuck and need to have a bowel movement to get rid of toxins so they don't accumulate. It is easy to overdo this, as diarrhea is hard to avoid when taking this, but you'll definitely get a good cleanout! Make sure you hydrate well after your "magnesium poop experience" because you will lose a lot of fluids. If you've taken magnesium for constipation, you know what I'm talking about! Again, just being open about this, this isn't at all awkward 😂. You can get this supplement very easily and it is inexpensive.
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If you have a tendency towards constipation, try out some of these tips, and see how much better you will feel to get things moving!