Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Have you ever been constipated? I have! It is one of the worst feelings. You know you have to go to the bathroom but can't. Your stomach feels full and may even give you cramps. Guess what? Constipation is not uncommon.
In 2017, a survey showed 16% of adults suffer from chronic constipation. As you get older, the statistics get worse. About 33% of adults 60 years and older suffer from chronic constipation. (Source: Stat News) That's a lot of people who can't go to the bathroom.
WHY DOES CONSTIPATION HAPPEN?
Dehydration: None of us (even me) drink enough water every day. Did you know 75% of our poop is water? Now you can see why if we aren't drinking enough water, we become constipated. The general rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces every day. If you weigh 100 pounds, that is 50 ounces of water.
Being Sedentary: We need to move our bodies every day to stay healthy. Bowel movements are influenced by how much we move our body. A great rule of thumb is 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Just going for a 30 minute walk will stimulate your colon.
Medications: Are you taking medication for another problem? It may cause constipation. It is important to be aware of side effects of any medication that you are taking.
Lack of Fiber: Do you eat a lot of take out? Or maybe frozen foods from the grocery store? Chances are you are aren't getting enough fiber. I don't mean you can't have the occasional take out or frozen appetizer from the grocery store. But if that is your regular routine, you need to change it immediately. Fiber is necessary for a healthy digestive system which includes the colon. Filling up your plate with healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a little meat or fish if you like, is the best way to avoid constipation.
Non-Organic Food: Foods grown with pesticides and chemicals wreak havoc on the digestive system. Our body does an amazing job trying to fight all we do to it to remain healthy. Eventually, the body gets tired and is unable to fight 100% for our health. Organic food is no longer extremely expensive compared to food grown with chemicals. I often find organic produce cheaper than conventionally grown.
Medical Conditions: Did your constipation just start? Are you noticing other physical symptoms when you are constipated? You may have developed a digestive health issue such as IBS or IBD. Working with your doctor or a Nutritionist can help reset your body and eliminate constipation.
SYMPTOMS OF CONSTIPATION IN ADULTS
More than likely, you've been told (just like I was) that every person's "schedule" for a bowel movement is different. This is simply not true! Eating food everyday? Then a bowel movement needs to happen every day.
While the traditional medical community has a different definition, such as the one below from the National Institute of Health (NIH), the fact is if we aren't pooping every day we are constipated.
Traditional Constipation Definition: having fewer than 3 bowel movements per week, stools that are difficult or painful to pass and a feeling that not all stool has passed.
Holistic Healing Constipation Definition: not having at least 1 bowel movement per day; preferably 1 bowel movement for every major meal.
Having a bowel movement is one way the body releases toxins. If a bowel movement is not happening every day, then the waste that wants to leave our body sits in our colon. Even worse, the waste can start to travel back into our body causing more damage.
Poop is a combination of food, water and bacteria. When we don't poop every day the stool gets hard and can cause hemorrhoids since we have to work extra hard to get the stool out. It can also cause tearing of the anus, called anal fissures.
There are a variety of other physical symptoms that happen when constipated. Below are some common questions about symptoms:
Can Constipation Cause Headaches? Yes. The straining when we try to poop can cause a headache but also low blood sugar can result in headaches. Being constipated usually means we are eating very little fruits, vegetables and whole grains, resulting in low blood sugar. (Source: Healthline)
Can Constipation Cause Fatigue? Yes. Constipation can result in the body not being able to absorb nutrients resulting in malnutrition. Fatigue will happen when we aren't absorbing nutrients. (Source: Health 24)
Can Constipation Cause Loss Of Appetite? Yes. Constipation makes our digestive system bloated and feel full, which makes us not want to eat.
Does any of this sound like you?
👉Diarrhea and/or constipation
👉Bloating and gas
👉Congestion, coughing, wheezing
👉Brain fog, difficulty recalling words, short term memory issues
👉Headaches and migraines
👉Acne and itchy skin
👉Tired all the time
👉Sensitivity to fragrances and chemicals
If you said yes to just one of the above, your body is telling you something is not right. Discovering the root cause and how to get healthy can be confusing and hard! I am here to help.
I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist obsessed with teaching people just like you how to heal their gut so you can stop suffering and get back to living!
I offer a FREE 30 minute strategy session where we will talk about your specific symptoms and how the Simply Great Health program can help.
How would eliminating your symptoms improve your life? You could:
✅Be more present with your children
✅Focus at work
✅Have more energy
✅Stop running to the bathroom
✅Workout without fear of an accident or farting
✅Restore your confidence
✅Be able to cook healthy meals for you and your family
✅Take an active vacation
✅Reclaim your life!
Simply Great Health is a customized 5 Step plan that heals your body and fits your busy lifestyle.
It’s very simple. No jumping through hoops and NO PRESSURE.
If we determine it’s not a fit, we’ll go our separate ways for now.
If it is a fit, we can take the next step and get you started on the path to healing.
BEST REMEDY FOR CONSTIPATION
To solve constipation, there is the immediate need for quick relief but also a lifestyle change is needed to stop constipation and get more regular.
Quick Constipation Relief
Laxatives: Most people will turn to laxatives for quick constipation relief. This is something that should not be used frequently. Dangers of frequent laxative use are electrolyte disturbances, dehydration and mineral deficiencies. They can also damage the colon and lead to long term damage to the digestive system. (Source: Rosewood Ranch)
Drink Water: Earlier, I mentioned dehydration is a common cause of constipation. When constipated, drink water and clear fluids like bone broth. This can help ease the compacted stool in your colon.
Get Moving: I don't mean taking an extreme exercise class! Being sedentary promotes constipation. When you are constipated, take a walk, ride a bike, bounce on an indoor trampoline or even go for a light jog. The movement will stimulate the bowels to move.
Long Term Tips For Constipation Relief
Eat Fiber: Fiber is the most important nutrient for bowel regularity and the entire digestive system. If comes from fruits and vegetables. The USDA guidelines are a good place to start. They recommend 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables every day. This is not a lot. A single small apple or 1 large banana equals 1 cup of fruit. Two medium carrots or 1 large sweet potato is one cup of vegetables. For optimal health, we need to eat at least 7 to 9 servings of fruit and vegetables daily.
Squat Instead of Sit: You may have heard about the Squatty Potty. It is a simple stool that goes under your feet when you are on the toilet. It helps to stimulate a bowel movement because our bodies were never made to sit to poop. We need our knees higher than our hips to ensure a good poop. You can use any stool you like or even a stack of books. This simple trick makes it so much easier to poop.
Try Supplements: To keep things moving, there are a variety of supplements you can take daily. Magnesium citrate can ensure you have regular bowel movements. Triphala, an ayurvedic supplement, promotes regular bowel cleansing and detoxifies the body. Fiber supplements can also be helpful as you transition to having more fiber in your day.
Drink Water: Dehydration is one of the top causes of constipation. If you don't like the taste of plain water, add fruit to it. Also, herbal tea counts as water intake. There are plenty you can drink warm or cold for constipation relief. Peppermint, ginger and dandelion just to name a few. Make sure to add honey to tea because it has a natural laxative effect.
WHAT TO EAT WHEN CONSTIPATED
Since you are already constipated and make not feel like eating, focusing on soft foods that are high in fiber can help. Sip on a pureed vegetable soup made of broccoli and spinach. Or maybe a carrot soup. Bone broth was mentioned earlier which can help sooth the intestinal lining due to its high concentration of collagen.
One question I get a lot: is applesauce good for constipation? It sounds like a good idea since it is soft and was once a whole fruit. Unfortunately, the answer is no. Applesauce contains a lot of pectin which means it adds bulk to stool. This will make it even harder for you to poop!
Eating when constipated can be tricky and may need some trial and error. Each of our bodies physiology is unique. What works for one person does not necessarily translate to another. The one thing we do know, foods high in fiber help move waste through our system.
Stop eating processed foods, eat organic whenever possible, hydrate and move your body to keep from getting constipated. If you experience severe pain, haven't been able to get your bowels moving and feel like something is wrong, see a doctor immediately. This could be a sign that something else has gone wrong and you need medical attention.
I hope you learned how to relieve your constipation as well as how to prevent it in the future.
Do you think you will try any of the tips above to help relieve constipation? Let me know by leaving a comment below.