Does Constipation Have You Down
When I take a history with a new patient, I always ask them how their bowel movements (bm) are. Many people don’t want to discuss their bowel habits and will tell me quickly how regular they are.
What I find out by questioning them a little more is that regular often means going one time daily in the morning and it is almost always after their morning coffee.
From my perspective they are constipated for several reasons. Firstly, they are only having one bm a day which is not ideal. The naturopathic, Chinese and Ayurvedic philosophies generally all suggest that bowel movements are correlated with meals, which means that if you eat three meals daily it is good to have a bm shortly after each meal.
Secondly, a lot of those one time a day bowel movements occur after drinking a cup of coffee which often acts like a laxative for the bowels. Withdraw the coffee and watch what happens. Invariably that person who is no longer using coffee as a bowel stimulant will wind up having to struggle to go once a day and may find that they are going every second or third day at best.
I usually suggest several methods to help invigorate a sluggish or constipated system. Here is a list of my ten favorite methods which I find most helpful to patients having a constipation problem.
1. Eat more fiber. Each meal should have good sources of fiber in it like avocado, berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, chia seeds, ground flax seeds and hemp seeds. Fiber helps eliminate waste in the digestive system, slows the emptying of food from our stomachs and supports healthy gut flora (bacteria).
2. Drink lots of healthy, alkaline water. Each person has a slightly different need for water which is often dependent on activity level. A general rule of thumb would be to consume one and a half liters daily. An important consideration in drinking water is to make sure it is alkaline and whether or not it is actually getting into your cells by crossing the cell membrane. This is something I test for in my office, because if the water is not getting into your cells then it is parking outside the cell and may cause bloating and fatigue.
3. Eat more foods with prebiotics and probiotics in them. Prebiotic foods have a lot of fiber in them and act as food for probiotics, both of which go a long way to making a happy and regular colon. Foods containing prebiotics include, raw asparagus, raw Jerusalem artichoke, raw chicory, raw dandelion greens, raw garlic, raw leeks, raw and cooked onions. Probiotic rich foods include apple cider vinegar, fermented vegetables, kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut.
4. Use herbs and spices in your cooking. Herbs and spices have been used for thousands of years to help maintain a healthy and active digestive system. Here are some of my personal favorite ones that help the organs of digestion and elimination (stomach, spleen, colon, kidney and liver), basil, black pepper, cayenne, clove, coriander seeds, cumin, ginger, oregano, rosemary and turmeric.
5. Work using a standing desk. Sitting all day behind a desk is not good for you for a whole variety of reasons. However, it is particularly bad for you after you have just eaten a meal which can result in slower digestion because of organ compression. This is in turn can lead to constipation.
6. Create a routine. I find this particularly helpful in the morning. Start your day off with a cup of warm water, apple cider vinegar, ginger, cayenne and a touch of stevia. This should be taken upon rising. Wait to eat for at least ten minutes before eating a breakfast smoothie or shake made from OptiMetabolix which will help provide needed protein and balance your blood sugar.
7. Meditation and breathing. How we start our days is vitally important to setting the tone for the whole day. This is also true for creating an atmosphere of letting go of the old and making room to receive the new. When we take long, deep breaths we are allowing energy to flow through us and we will remain relaxed and open instead of tight and closed. Which way of being do you think will invite easy and complete bowel movements?
8. Massage your digestive acupuncture and reflex points. There is one area between the small and large intestine, called the ileocecal valve which often goes into spasm not allowing for partially digested food to move through to the colon thereby not allowing for full elimination. This point can be found on the right side of the body on a diagonal between the top of the hip and belly button. Also massage Large Intestine 4 acupoint located in the webbing between the thumb and next finger. You will often find a nubby feeling there and when you rub it, the energy will move more easily through the colon.
9. Take a magnesium supplement. Magnesium is a muscle and nervous system relaxant, therefore making it one of the go to minerals for easing constipation. Please use magnesium in the form of magnesium amino acid chelate which seems to work well for this purpose. Also it is important to remember that all vitamins are not created equal and that a pharmaceutical grade magnesium will react very differently than a cheaper quality one.
10. Eat enough healthy fat each day. Much of the intestinal lining (walls) is made up of fat. Healthy fats from sources such as avocados, coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, olive oil and oily fish will help lubricate the intestinal lining and prevent constipation. It is important to remember that up to 90% of our immune system exists in our intestines.
Therefore, it is critically important that we maintain a free and easily moving bowel in order to help prevent the onset of many diseases.
If you have been having problems with constipation and would like help for you or your family, please contact me at 516 609 0890 or at drdbrant.com.
Yours in infinite wellness,
Dr. Garry D’Brant