Constipation: Everything you need to know
Constipation is a big problem for millions of Canadians each year. When a person doesn’t eliminate entirely and daily, their body is in a toxic state. Persistent constipation is a symptom that should not be ignored.
What is Constipation?
Constipation is a lack of daily bowel movement (normal is 1-3x per day), straining to eliminate or hard stools or unfinished elimination.
Symptoms of Constipation
Constipation can cause a number of different symptoms including:
- Fatigue and brain fog
- Aches and pains elsewhere in the body
- Chronic headaches
- Food allergies or sensitivities
- Lactose intolerance
- Leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability
- Impaired digestion and absorption
- Prescription drug use
- Reduced Friendly Bacteria
- Lack of dietary fibre
- Not enough exercise
- Lack of sunshine
- Stress or anxiety
- Magnesium deficiency
If you have constipation, I suggest the following four-step process that I use in my practice to identify and resolve the cause of your symptoms.
Step One – Practical suggestions
- Eat more mindfully. Avoid eating on the run or while watching the television. Remember to chew your food.
- Bring more movement into your life. This can be as simple as taking a regular walk in the morning or consider joining a yoga or pilates class.
- Check side effects of medications you are taking. More than 150 prescriptions and many regularly used over-the-counter medications can induce constipation. These can include certain acid blocking, antidepressant, cold, painkiller, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol medication.
- Manage or reduce the stress in your life. Exercise and mindfulness techniques such as meditation have been scientifically proven to reduce stress.
- Consider what you might be ‘holding on to’ or not releasing in your life. Emotions can have a powerful effect on how our bodies work. If you are holding on to loss or sadness from your past then this can affect the functioning of your intestines.
If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief then it is time to consider whether your diet is causing your constipation.
Step Two – Dietary changes
This step has two parts. Part 1 is adding in foods that can help speed up bowel movements, and part 2 is removing foods that may be causing constipation.
- Consume more fibre in the form of vegetables.
- Drink more water – at least 2 litres per day.
- Consume probiotic foods
- Add ground flax seed or chia seeds
- Flaxseed oil(unheated)can be used in salad dressings
- Eat more garlic
- Soak dried figs or prunes overnight; drink the soak water
- Papaya can stimulate bowel activity
- Eat more probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods
- Dandelion root tea
- Avoid hydrogenated and processed foods
- Eliminate dairy
If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief then it is time to consider introducing supplementation.
￼Step Three – Supplementation
Below are the most common supplements I use in my practice for constipation. When using supplements introducing one at a time is best.
- Soil Based Probiotic
- Digestive enzymes
- Aloe vera juice (2-4 oz)
- Slippery elm or marshmallow root
- Psyllium husk
- Vitamin C
Step 4 – Functional Testing
If the above suggestions give you no or partial relief then it is time to consider using functional lab testing. The most common tests I use in my practice are the following:
- IgG food sensitivity testing
- Comprehensive Stool Test for Candida and Parasites
- Organic Acids Test for yeast, metabolic and overgrowth concerns
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) breath test
- Comprehensive serum thyroid panel
If you have any questions about this article either post them in the comments section below or email using the form on my contact page.
This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.