If you’re not clearing your bowel daily, we’ve got a problem! In my opinion, it’s essential that your clear your bowel at least once daily. This helps to eliminate waste products and toxins from your body, otherwise these toxic substances can get re-absorbed through the bowel wall, or ferment in your gut causing a whole range of health issues (IBS, bloating, candida overgrowth, hormonal imbalances, liver congestion, brain fog, headaches, irritability, anxiety, skin issues (eczema, psoriasis), struggles with weight loss to name just a few.
I know first hand what it’s like to suffer from constipation. Before changing careers from the corporate world to study holistic nutrition constipation is something I struggled with for years. Constipation made my anxiety worse, increase my eczema breakouts and candida overgrowth, lead me to feeling bloated and uncomfortable in my clothes on a daily basis and eventually lead to being diagnosed with “IBS.” Also, what I didn’t know and realize at that time was how my gut health was affecting my sugar addition too, making it harder for me to quit.
It’s horrible, and I get it! Which is why I’m so passionate about working with people who suffer from gut issues, as our gut health has such a significant impact on our overall health. Did you know that 90% of serotonin our happy hormone is made in the gut and that over 70% of our immune system is in our gut? Crazy huh!
So, if things aren’t flowing for you, let’s get thing flowing! Here are 6 reasons why can you get constipated, and how to avoid it.
1. You’re not eating enough fibre
Low fibre diets are one of the main causes of constipation. Soluble fibre found in legumes, peas, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, some fruits and vegetables, psyllium acts like a sponge, absorbing fluid and making the stool content softer. It also binds to toxic waste products, allowing them to be eliminated efficiently. Insoluble fibre found in whole grains and most vegetables acts as like a “bulking agent” which, with soluble fibre, helps to keep our bowel regular. Fibre is particularly important for our gut bacteria and research has shown fibre to positively alter our gut bacteria in as little as two weeks! The simplest way to ensure you’re getting enough fibre is to consume a plant-based diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Vegetables are my favourite way to up dietary fibre, aim for 2 cups of veggies with lunch and dinner daily.
This is another main cause of constipation. If there isn’t enough water to push your waste through your bowels, it’s literally like trying to push sand through a pipe. Water is going to make the process a whole lot smoother as water soften the stools, after all poop is about 75 percent water and 25 percent solid. So drink up, aim for 2L daily.
3. Holding in Your Poop
This can be a challenge for some. I often have clients who don’t like to “let go” in public places, this is something that needs addressing asap! Delaying your body’s natural function can aggravate your body and cripple its ability to tell you when you need to go in the future. It may take time to adjust going in public places, but it something that needs to change if constipation is an issue for you. Don’t be embarrassed to go number two in a place other than your home. Everyone’s digested food has to evacuate at some point during the week, if not daily (ideally!).
4. Inactivity / Lack of exercise
Our bodies are designed to move regularly. We are not designed to be sitting in a chair stagnant all day. Inactivity, aka sitting for long periods day-in-day-out without regular movement (and I don’t mean walking to your work kitchen or local coffee shop) can have a significant effect on bowel health. Movement such a a brisk walk increases blood flow to our organs. Bringing more blood to the gastrointestinal tract results in stronger intestinal contractions and increase in digestive enzymes. Core strength exercise such as yoga and pilates are also great for healthy gut function. Aim for move your body for 30 minutes daily, walking, running, a gym class or yoga class, anything that gets your body moving!
5. Eat in a calm state
No one likes to hear it, but it’s true. Eating on the run, in front of your work computer, in your car while sitting in traffic, or eating in any situation which you don’t feel calm and relaxed can decrease digestive function. Our stress hormone adrenaline increase when we are feeling rushed and stressed, this interferes with our ability to digest food, decreases digestive enzymes needed to break down food effectively which can lead to bloating, reflux, indigestion as well as constipation. So it’s time to wake up 15 minutes earlier to sit down and have breakfast, move away from your work desk for lunch, move away from the telly at dinner time and start to focus on your food, so you chew it properly and eat in a relaxed environment.
6. Pre-existing Medical Conditions
There are some pre-existing medical conditions which can also impact bowel health, some of them include hypothyroidism, anxiety, depression, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, neurodegenerative disease, autoimmune disease. But that’s not to say you can’t get on top of your bowel health if you have one of these conditions, a lot can be done through simple diet and lifestyle changes with all these conditions!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or any other health practitioner if you’re suffering from constipation. As I mentioned earlier, I know first hand how uncomfortable it is and how much it can affect your mood, energy and overall health. So don’t be shy and reach out if you struggle with this, it’s time to get things flowing!!!