There are a few things in life that are impossible to ignore when they come to a screeching halt—digestion being one of them. Being constipated can really impact our quality of life, making things like eating, walking, and even sex undesirable or painful.
If the feeling of being “backed up” isn’t enough—think bloating, gas, heaviness, stomach pain, loss of appetite, and weight gain—it’s also pretty toxic. Our bowels and colon play pretty major roles in our detoxification process. When it takes extra long for food to pass through the colon, this accumulates in buildup. Reminder that when we go to the bathroom, we are getting rid of waste, including toxins. When this toxic waste builds up, the toxins can cause the sensation of nausea, as well as reabsorb back into our bodies.
When we become chronically constipated, meaning only going once or a few times a week, we can create buildup that solidifies in the bowel and leads to pressure against other organs or our pelvic floor, causing pain and loss of libido. It can also make it difficult for waste to continue passing through, creating an area of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, a digestive disorder known as SIBO.
Before we all freak out, understand that sometimes in life, we get a little constipated. It’s usually from flying or travel, having a lapse in our diet where we didn’t get enough fiber, or maybe we’re a little dehydrated. These tricks can help. For chronic constipation and illness, it’s vital that we see a doctor immediately.
Drink water with electrolytes
Dehydration can cause dehydrated stool, and dehydrated stool does not move smoothly through and out the colon. Make sure that if you are glugging tons of water to make bowel movements happen, that at least half the water is mineralized with some electrolytes so that your body can properly absorb and utilize the hydration.
This magnesium supplement is in the danger zone for those with regular digestion, IBS, or sensitive tummies. It’s a powerful saline laxative and has a very quick effect on bowel movements, so use sparingly and carefully. It works by secreting water into the intestines to lubricate the area and propel waste.
Probiotics are chock-full of beneficial bacteria to help regulate the way we digest and absorb nutrients from our food. Studies show that regular use can help speed up whole gut transit time, aka the amount of time it takes for food to pass through the digestive system, meaning we can eliminate waste more easily and frequently. The same study also noted that consistency was improved, meaning less strain during elimination. We call that regular, baby.
Exercise is also a major encourager of movement occurring on the inside, as well. We have to move our bodies in order to keep things energized and functioning, and walking is so simple and easy. It boosts lymph flow and circulation, oxygenates the body, and gets digestion on track. Try it 15-20 minutes after a big meal, or anytime. A 10-minute walk is better than nothing, but if there’s time for a longer one, get after it!
Triphala churna is a great herbal supplement to take along on our travels. It’s typically a capsule, pressed pill, or powder containing these three potent Ayurvedic herbs: amalaki (amla), haritaki (harad), and bibhitaki (baheda), all of which are known to help relieve constipation. It tastes very bitter, but proper digestion begins in the mouth with saliva and taste, so some prefer to chew the pill or taste the powder to get their digestive juices flowing.
Soluble, non-fermentable fiber
There’s a difference in your fiber. We definitely need insoluble fiber, aka roughage, to sweep the colon. Examples are kale, mushrooms, corn, etc. However, soluble, meaning it dissolves in water, is vital to help relieve constipation. Soluble fiber doesn’t absorb much water, so it won’t bulk up too much, keeping things streamlined. Examples include oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, psyllium husk, and some fruits and vegetables.
Modern-day toilets aren’t built for the natural way humans were meant to squat and defecate. Our colon is slightly bent in a way that pinches the opening, like kinking a hose, making it much more difficult to get things going, especially if you’re someone who struggles with constipation already. A Squatty Potty helps lift the legs so that we are in a more traditional crouch. It’s not pretty, but let’s all assume this is done in private. It helps to open up the colon channel for easier, more natural elimination.
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