What’s the big deal?
Are you pooping every day? I mean every single day. If you’re not, you’re needing some help with digestion. Let me tell you why regular bowel movements are so important. Moving your bowels is the #1 way that your body gets rid of wastes. This includes regular wastes from normal cell function, wastes from food additives, wastes from environmental chemicals/toxins, wastes from hormones that have built up in the system, etc. These different types of wastes are all things that you absolutely do not want to keep in your body longer. The longer they stay in the system and sit in your bowels not moving, they continue to be reabsorbed and recirculated in the system causing problems. Obviously, that’s not what we want! If we can keep the system clear, your body can handle normal environmental exposures much more easily without getting fatigued and causing damage to the tissues.
Ways to Relieve Constipation:
Water – The #1 thing your body needs to make sure you can move your bowels is water!
Not only is it needed for basically all cellular functions in your body, but water is necessary to prevent stool from being too dry and hard. As you may think, stool that is dry and hard won’t be able to move smoothly out of the body. Plus, it gets quite uncomfortable. The ideal amount of water to get in a day is ½ of your bodyweight in ounces of water (so if you’re 140lb, that’s 70oz water). This number goes up if you’re sweating a lot or drinking alcohol and caffeine.
Fiber – You also need enough fiber in your diet to make your stool the right consistency to move smoothly through the digestive system. This is another reason eating your veggies is super important! Without that fiber, again, stool will be very slow-moving and difficult to pass. You need AT LEAST 3 servings of vegetables daily, but 5 is even better. If you get enough water and fiber, you’ve got a solid foundation for proper digestion.
Exercise – I won’t belabor this one too much, but I hope you know that exercise improves the function of basically everything in the body. Regular exercise improves circulation to the bowels so they’re healthy enough to effectively move stool through.
Magnesium – This mineral is used by most tissues of the body, and the bowels are not different. Replenishing magnesium calms the nervous system, relaxes the muscles, encourages bowel movements, and can regulate heartrate. If you’re depleted in this mineral, supplementing can totally change your digestion. Magnesium comes in different forms in supplements that make them more helpful depending on the situation. For example, magnesium citrate pulls more water into the digestive tract, making stool easier to pass. Magnesium glycinate is absorbed more completely and is better for other uses like muscle tension.
Probiotics – If you have a history of antibiotic use or poor diet, it’s likely that you have an imbalance in your gut flora. If you don’t have enough of the friendly bacteria that belongs in the bowel, foods are not being completely broken down and moved out properly. This can slow down your bowel movements and cause nutrient depletions. Eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt (if you tolerate it), and kombucha (the low-sugar kind) will help improve the balance of your gut bacteria. High quality probiotics are a good idea to replenish bacteria quickly.
Rule out other causes – If you’ve been dealing with constipation for a while or need to use laxatives often, make sure you check in with a physician so they can test your thyroid function. Hypothyroidism causes constipation, fatigue, and effects the rest of your organs so it’s important to get it treated. You’ll also want to find a physician that can help you determine if you have food sensitivities. If there are certain foods your body doesn’t tolerate, it can cause irritation and inflammation in your digestive system, causing either constipation or diarrhea. High stress can also be a big contributor to constipation. If your nervous system is always revved up in fight-or-flight mode, your body doesn’t put energy into digestion.