Talking about our bowel movements can be an awkward conversation. I, on the other hand, have a huge passion for gastrointestinal health and feel that it can be the root cause of most diseases we battle with today. The “poop talk” is necessary for everyone. However, constipation is a very a common issue and can feel horrible. You’re bloated, distended or just really uncomfortable. You should be going #2 at least once a day but the ideal amount is after every meal. This can all be treated and prevented with easy changes to your lifestyle, or some alternatives to use if you do get the occasional case.
Water Intake: The amount of water we drink is vital. Think of your GI tract like a hose and if no water comes through, nothing will be cleaned out. You should be drinking at least 2-3 liters of water per day. And if you have drinks that have diuretic- like properties like coffee or alcohol you should drink more.
Step stool/ Squatty potty: using a step stool that is 12 inches or under can help you go easier. The new craze of the squatty potty is a health trend that should definitely stick. Before the modern plumbing system our ancestors used to use holes in the ground as toilets. The shape of our sigmoid colon is “S”shaped so the modern toilets can cause the bones in our pelvis to constrict our flow. This helps you not to push so hard because with prolonged constipation comes those pesky hemorrhoids.
Spinal twists: These are great to incorporate into your morning or night time stretching routine. (As pictured below). Starting from right to left is best, as that is how our large intestine eliminates.
Bowel Massage: Same concept as the spinal twists but can work wonders. Massage from the lower right quadrant of your abdomen, working your way to the top of the right upper quadrant to the center then upper left to lower left quadrant. Making a square on the abdomen and repeating several times slowly. It’s usually used on babies who don’t have the option to use spinal twists and is worth a try when all else fails.
Fiber: You always hear everyone say increase your fiber for healthy poops. Most people go straight for the store bought powders like “Metamucil” or “Benefiber”. These should be as a supplement if dietary changes do not work. They can be pricey so switching to more leafy greens, legumes, or a more plant-based diet in general can easily do the trick.
Digest Zen: This is a God-send of an herbal mixture. It’s ingredients are Anise Seed, Peppermint Plant, Ginger Rhizome/Root, Caraway Seed, Coriander Seed, Tarragon Plant, and Fennel Seed essential oils. You can either rub on your belly or internally ingest this as directed. Make sure to be home because it can work fast or work the next morning if you take it at night. I personally use this and use as a gift for family members. Even the healthiest diet can have the occasional upset, especially when the holidays or family events come around. Click on the link if you would like to purchase at wholesale pricing instead of retail price. Digest Zen
Exercise: Staying active is very important in a general basis. But let’s look at the concept of how the hospital makes you walk around to make sure you poop after surgery. It is no joke. Or patients who are bed bound and need a stool softener because they simply don’t have the option. Even being lazy and walking briskly for 30 minutes a day can make a huge difference.
Colonics: It is the infusion of water into the rectum by a licensed professional to flush out and cleanse the colon. Colonics are similar to enemas. Where you hold the water as long as you can and push the water out. It can be a weird feeling at first but for those with chronic constipation or other GI disorders this is where you will find the most relief. I have only tried this once and it was the same month I chose to start a plant based diet. I felt like it was the best way for a clean start, Literally. That was the name of the place where I had my colonic. If you live in the Miami, Florida / Georgia area or visiting, I highly recommend it and they are very professional. Its called Clean Start Cleansing and they even give you a guide for foods to eat the next few days after a cleanse which is super important and any supplements to help with the transition to a more holistic lifestyle.
Probiotics: Probiotics are good bacteria that help aid digestion and create a healthier well being in general. The particular kind I love are in a previous blog post if you want more information on this topic. 7 Tips to Improve Gut Health. I personally take my probiotics at night to help the good bacteria create a great breeding ground in an uninterrupted environment and help to eliminate waste best in the morning.
Fiber Supplement: There are many different kinds as stated before like “Metamucil” or “Benefiber”. The best brand I have found so far is the Calm Magnesium supplement you can take and it works as both a fiber and stool softener together. Take as directed of course. This is usually prescribed by healthcare professionals for reoccurring situations or non- compliant patients. The lifestyle changes should make a significant change in your bowel patterns. However, this is a better option than not going at all.
Magnesium Citrate/Castor Oil: This is used for the worst case scenarios and will work rapidly so do not make any plans for several hours after taking this. You might be glued to your toilet.
The side effects of constipation can be headaches, moodiness, acne, and hemorrhoids. Never fight the urge to go when you need to have a bowel movement. Some people are too shy to go in public or on vacation but it can only make the situation worse. The water of your stool gets absorbed making it hard and lumpy; and in worse cases become an obstruction needing surgery. So don’t be shy, we’re all human. We all bleed red; and we all pee and poo.