Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
Chronic constipation should be regarded as a very serious health problem because it contributes to many conditions including colorectal cancer, haemorrhoids, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, hiatus hernia, weight gain, leaky gut syndrome, varicose veins, and chronic back pain.
Constipation is a very common problem especially among those who do not drink enough water, eat refined foods deprived of fibre (processed foods and high animal product intake) and live a sedentary lifestyle. It is estimated that in North America, over 60 million people suffer from constipation.
You should have at least 1, but even better 2 or 3 bowel movements per day. Also keep in mind that frequency isn’t the only factor to measure. It is equally important to have large stools. The larger the stool the better as it means your diet is high in fibre which plays crucial role in preventing cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, and many other problems. In a healthy normal individual, bowel movements should be easy quick, odourless, and comfortable. If you have to read magazines or books in the toilet you need to start thinking about it.
– Refined diet (diet low in fibre)
– Dehydration (low intake of water)
– Lack of physical activity
– Delay in going to the bathroom when you have the urge
– Stress, anxiety, depression
– Poor quality iron & calcium supplements
– Serotonin deficiency. The neurotransmitter serotonin can actually modulate motility in the gut. When levels of serotonin are skewed, this can cause either constipation or diarrhea.
– Magnesium deficiency
– Insufficient amount of probiotic bacteria in the gut
– Dairy may cause constipation as a result of milk protein intolerance. In addition, milk and dairy do not contains no fibre and diet low in fibre is one of the key causes of constipation.
– Laxative abuse
– An unrefined (high in fibre) plant-based diet is the most effective way to avoid constipation and achieve regular, frequent and ease of bowel movements. This diet is most effective way to deal with constipation because it is high in fibre and water and has very beneficial effect on boosting the growth of probiotic bacteria in the gut. As a result the gut is clean and healthy and will reward you by making more serotonin and PABA (Para Amino Butyric Acid) that improve the movement of the colon and make you happier.
– Avoid any constipating foods such as all refined products, sugar, white flour products, white bread, white rice, disserts, and eliminate or at least reduce meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy, as they contain no fibre.
– Increase consumption of plant-based (vegan) unrefined foods eliminating or significantly reducing the intake of all animal-based foods (dairy, meat products, and fish) because they don’t contain fibre. According to Professor Colin Campbell the author of the famous China Study, “The more you substitute plant foods for animal foods, the healthier you are likely to be.”
– Chew your food thoroughly. For best results, fibre from vegetables, fruits, and legumes needs to be broken down by thorough chewing (or blending) before it reaches the stomach and intestines. One way to think of it is to remember to chew each bite of food until it is liquid in your mouth.
– Stay active as moving the body helps get the smooth muscle in the colon moving as well. In this way exercise helps to improve the peristalsis of the colon and prevent dehydration of the stool. As a result the “job” is done much easier as the stool contains more water. The more regular your exercise is, the better it works.
– Drink 3 times a day about 3 glasses of filtered or even better distilled water between meals.
– Learn to control stress.
– Include uncooked carrots, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, cauliflowers and other vegetables in your diet as they are low in calories, but high in fibre and essential nutrients. In this way your body will stop craving for more food in between meals as it will have enough nutrients. Raw cabbage reduces the conversion of sugar and other carbohydrates into fat.
– Never fry your foods but cook or bake them without oil. If you have to fry with oil use only organic raw coconut oil.
SUPPLEMENTS AND HERBAL REMEDIES
– Take Magnesium citrate 2 times a day about 400mg between meals with water. Magnesium improves peristalsis and relaxes nervous system, intestines and colon (colon is a muscle). Many people have problems with bowel movements because they are deficient in magnesium. Millions suffer from magnesium deficiency without even knowing it. Magnesium deficiency is often misdiagnosed because it does not show up in blood tests as only 1% of the body’s magnesium is stored in the blood. Magnesium citrate is an osmotic laxative, which means it relaxes your bowels and pulls water into your intestines. The water helps soften and bulk up your stool, which makes it easier to pass. In addition, magnesium citrate is relatively gentle. It means it shouldn’t cause urgency or emergency bathroom trips, unless you take too much of it.
Instead of magnesium you can try Epsom salt. It is also an effective home remedy for constipation but you must test which one is better for you. It absorbs water from, softening up stool and making it easier to pass. In addition, the magnesium that is present in the Epsom salt promotes contractions and relaxation of the bowel muscles, which also helps to passing the stool easier. Take about two teaspoons of Epsom salt with at least one cup of water or vegetable juice about 30 minutes before meal one or two times a day.
– Psyllium husk is an excellent fibre to fight constipation. It and travels through the digestive tract without being digested but it absorbs water making stool bulkier and softer. In this way, like other fibres, it is very effective in coping with constipation. You can achieve similar results by using ground flax seed. Scientific research have shown that, “Supplementation with psyllium husk improves faecal incontinence.” In addition, “Psyllium fibre reduced the number of abdominal pain episodes in children with IBS.” Psyllium husk contains 70 per cent soluble fibre (8 times more than oat bran!) and for this reason, according to a 2009 study, “Psyllium fibre has been shown in studies to lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels while another common fibre, methylcellulose, has not shown these benefits.” WARNING: Powdered Psyllium husk should be taken with a full glass of water to avoid it swelling in the throat and causing choking. In addition, since like any fibre psyllium husks absorb water wrom intestines it requires more water intake in between meals as otherwise it may cause severe constipation!
– Make a raw sauerkrout > at home as it is very high in probiotic bacteria you desperately need. Take a good quality probiotic formula such as ColiProbio or UltraProbio. Researchers at King’s College in London reviewed 14 clinical trials involving participants with constipation who took either probiotics or a placebo. They found that on average, probiotics reduced gut transit time by 12 hours, increased the number of weekly bowel movements, and helped soften stools, making them easier to pass. Probiotics that contained Bifidobacterium appeared to be the most effective.
– Boost Serotonin levels by taking 5-HTP (Tryptophan), consuming Tofu (highest source of tryptophan), magnesium citrate, zinc citrate, B complex, daily exercise, sunlight. The neurotransmitter serotonin can actually modulate motility in the gut. When levels of serotonin are skewed, this can cause either constipation or diarrhea.
OTHER HERBAL REMEDIES AND SUPPLEMENTS TO FIGHT CONSTIPATION
– Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), Prunes, Prune juice, Castor oil, Senna leaf or Senna pods, Aloe vera, Dandelion tea.
– If constipation is resistant to above treatment you must do the Enema at least two times per week to prevent colon cancer and other conditions such as leaky gut syndrome, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, haemorrhoids, hiatus hernia, etc.
– Higgins PD, Johanson JF. Epidemiology of constipation in North America: a systematic review. Am J Gastroenterol 2004, 99:750-759.
– E Dimidi, S Christodoulides, KC Fragkos, et al (2014) The effect of probiotics on functional constipation in adults. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2014/08/06/ajcn.114.089151.abstract
– D Z Bliss, H J Jung, K Savik, et al (2001) Nurs Res. 2001 Jul-Aug;50(4):203-13
– RJ Shulman, EB Hollister, et al (2016) Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. Epub 2016 Apr 11.
– Wei, Z. H., Wang, H., Chen, X. Y., et al (2009) Time- and dose-dependent effect of psyllium on serum lipids in mild-to-moderate hypercholesterolemia: a meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials. Eur.J.Clin.Nutr. 2009; 63(7): 821-827
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