Tell me honestly, how often do you poop? This is a topic that most people feel uncomfortable talking about, even with their doctors. Are you going every day? When you go, are you feeling you were successful in emptying your bowels? If not, you are one of the 42 million Americans who suffer from constipation. Read this post to learn what causes you to become constipated, and what things you can do to reverse it naturally!
Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal problems in the United States. If you have mustered up the courage to chat with your doctor regarding this issue, they probably gave you a vague response, “it can be a NORMAL sign of aging”. Hearing those words can be frustrating! Just because you are getting older does not mean you have to settle and accept this as your fate.
More people suffer from constipation as they age and there is a significant increase in people over the age of 60. Not because healthy aging is associated with an increased risk of constipation. Instead, it is most often attributed to underlying medication conditions and medications. So, when your doctor brushes this off, it is not because they do not believe you. It is because they hear it frequently and it is a common issue. Which means YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
What Causes Constipation?
What exactly is the cause of this discomforting condition that so many people are burdened with? There is no single answer. In fact, there are a multitude of different things that can cause you to be backed up. Let’s take a look at a few simple things in your life to see if they can be the culprit!
What we put into our bodies really does impact how our bodies function. When we consume high amounts of sugar and/or highly processed foods, our bodies are put into overdrive to break it down and use it for energy. Eating a diet that consists of whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables is important for our digestive system.
No doubt you have heard “you need more fiber to help with constipation”. Although this is true, it does not mean that you pick up a fiber supplement at the store and continue to eat the same way. There is no miracle pill that will cure this issue for you without making some dietary changes.
Have you considered if you have a gluten intolerance? Many of our practice members discover they are severely bothered by gluten once they try an elimination diet (eliminate a certain item from your diet for a few weeks and see if symptoms improve). To learn more about gluten intolerance check out Why People Choose Gluten-Free.
Drinking Enough Water
Did you know that chronic dehydration is a serious problem in our country? 75% of Americans are failing to drink an adequate amount of water each day. When our bodies do not have enough water to function optimally, it takes it from our waste and causes your poops to be firmer and harder to pass.
How often do you exercise?
Are you moving your body at least 4 days a week? Or are you binge watching another Netflix series sitting on the couch? Having a regular exercise regimen that elevates your heart rate for 30 min/day can significantly improve your bowel movements!
As we age, there are a number of medical issues that come up that our doctors prescribe medications for. Think back to when your constipation issues first started, was it when you started that new blood pressure pill? We have all seen a commercial on T.V. for a new medication and have heard the long list of “potential side effects” that go along with taking that medicine.
Medications that treat depression, heart burn, anemia, and allergies are known to cause constipation. Along with painkillers and diuretics which are more commonly discussed when your doctor writes you the prescription.
Ignoring the urge to go
Are you someone who can hold back your bowel movement if you are the office? I get it, there is no better place to relax and relieve than in the comfort of your own home (with your own toilet paper). However, by ignoring the urge to go, you may be causing your constipation to worsen. The longer our waste sits in our intestines, the harder it gets. Which in turn, makes it harder to move and pass!
Natural Ways to Alleviate Constipation
The most common complaint we hear from out clients is that they suffer from constipation. Of course, the next thing we hear is, “What Can I Do to Fix It?” There are numerous products on the market that will help you move your bowels as a quick fix. Sure, they are great for someone who only has this issue one time a year. However, for the rest of us, these products actually worsen our constipation and our bodies become reliant on them.
The best way to alleviate your constipation is to treat the cause of it! Sounds too simple, right? It really can be that SIMPLE. Notice how I used the word simple, instead of the word EASY? Changing your lifestyle and reversing bad habits is far from easy. However, when you feel more energized, less bloated, and clear your brain fog, it is totally worth it. You are worth it!
Make Sure You Eat Enough Fiber
Ensure your diet is full of high fiber fruits and vegetables. Prunes and figs are especially helpful to get things moving. Include 2-3 servings of vegetables with every meal. Incorporate nuts and flaxseeds into your diet for an added boost of fiber to keep your digestive system happy. If you are not familiar with flaxseeds, they are easy to grind up and add into a smoothie or sprinkle on top of a salad.
Increase Your Water Intake
Start drinking water as soon as you wake up! Yes, before you reach for that first cup of coffee. Right after you wake up, you should be reaching for a glass of warm water (you can add a squeeze of lemon into it for flavor and added digestive benefits). Drink it slowly until you’ve consumed 32 oz. By adding this small change into your daily routine, you will notice the difference within a few days! Make sure you continue to drink plenty of water throughout the day (no less than ½ of your body weight in ounces each day).
Move Your Body
After each meal, get up and go for a walk. The longer the better, but even a short walk is better than no walk at all! Winters can get long, and it is not always an option to get bundled up and go outside to get that walk in. Be creative and get a routine to get some household chores done after dinner instead of sitting on the couch and turning on the television. Remember to take deep breaths and focus on positive thoughts as added stress can also lead to unwanted constipation.
Ditch Sugar and Processed Foods
Consuming processed foods, sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, unhealthy fats and harmful food additives make it increasingly difficult to have healthy bowel movements. The better we treat our bodies, the better it will function!
Take a Probiotic Daily
The gut is responsible for a healthy immune system, brain function, and hormone balance. When the bacteria in your gut is properly balanced, you will see numerous health benefits such as improved digestion, weight loss, and improved cognitive (mental) function! If you are not convinced, read this article, Should I Be Taking A Probiotic.
Making all of these changes on your own may seem daunting and overwhelming. Which is why at Twin Oaks Health we provide our clients with the education, diagnostic assessment and wellness coaching that empowers them to heal from the inside out. All while maintain a healthy, vibrant lifestyle that will last the rest of their lives. To learn more about what we can do to help you, contact our team today!