Feeling a bit backed up? Is it a common occurrence?
If you're one of the many who struggle to stay regular and find yourself praying for that morning movement here are eight simple things you can do to improve your bowel movements and give yourself the best chance at toilet success everyday.
Remember quick fixes such as laxatives are not a long term solution, I do not recommend their use at all. These are things you can change about your every day habits that will have a large impact on your overall bowel health.
1. DRINK MORE WATER
While your small intestine digests and absorbs your nutrients from the food you eat, your bowel relies on hydration to move the left over waste matter effectively out of your digestive system. If you are dehydrated, everything becomes very dry, compacted and much harder to move (think clogged drainpipe or gutters). Your stools will become harder, more painful and take much longer to pass through you creating a build up in your colon, excess toxicity reabsorbed into your bloodstream and a great breeding ground for bad bacteria, yeasts and parasites. So, an easy way to help relieve constipation symptoms is to drink more water.
Quick tip 1: Try starting the day off with one litre of room temperature lemon water in the morning. This is an incredible kick start to your toilet time and then you know by 8am you’ve already had a third of the water you need for the whole day!
Quick Tip 2: If drinking enough water is a struggle for you, I have personally found that buying a large water bottle (mine is 2.2 litres), filling it to the brim at the start of every day and having it sit next to me as I am at work or at home is a great way to keep myself accountable. Instead of losing track of how many little bottles you’ve finished, one water bottle with nearly the entire amount you need for the day is a great way to stay on track. Drinking more water also helps reduce and relieve headaches, tiredness and keeps your skin glowing.
NOTE: coffee, tea, juice, soft drink, etc. do NOT count as water. Just because its fluid, doesn’t mean it’s hydrating. Water is water and that’s what your body needs to function properly… So drink up!
2. STRESS LESS
Stress, not matter what the source, has a major effect on your entire body and especially your bowel movements as the muscles in the body contract when you are stressed. Stress also increases your cortisol and acidity levels in the body, which then produces excess mucus, which then sticks to the gut wall and acts as glue to everything trying to pass through. You can see how this can quick turn into quite a bind…literally…in your gut. Binding you up and causing constipation which then again increases your stress and toxicity levels, often causing more stress. The cycle continues.
Managing your stress and finding ways to relieve tension will have a huge impact on constipation. Often when we feel things in our life are out of control, we hold on tight, buckle down and subconciously our muscles follow suit. A work – life balance is key to managing stress and also removing negativity.
QUICK TIP: All through my childhood up until my early twenties, I was a competitive athlete. I swam and played water polo at highly competitive levels, and was always told this was a great way to relieve stress through exercise and physically exerting the body. However, playing in these high stress environments where reputations were on the line and I put a lot of pressure on myself, never made me feel at ease and if anything, although I really enjoyed it did not give me the release I needed to fully let go of stress and handle my emotions.
It wasn’t until I was 23 and attended my first yoga class that I understood what surrendering to the body and the mind truly was and how liberating this could be for stress and tension in the body. Although it was not a pretty sight at first and I really struggled, yoga and the meditation through my practice has taught me how to let things go and be at peace with even the most challenging situations. It can take my heart rate down, lower my cortisol levesl and connect me back into myself which is extremely difficult in times of stress when the body starts to panic, producing all sorts of fight or flight hormones. I now practice my yoga every day, and has gotten me through some extremely stressful times. I couldn’t recommend this form of stress release more as it combines the physical, mental and emotional and for me there is nothing else that compares. Never feel ashamed to slow down, we always think clearer when we are not in a rush or under pressure. Find something that takes you down a notch and brings you back to reality.
3. ELIMINATE PROCESSED FOODS
Although extremely convenient and generally accepted as part of the modern western diet, processed foods have very little nutritional value and a major damaging effect on the gut lining which in turn can lead to constipation. Eating processed foods regularly can quickly reek havoc in the colon as they strip the gut of beneficial bacteria, increase acidity required to break down the complex carbohydrates involved and the excess mucus that is binds like glue on the intestinal lining. Pretty yuck.
Processed foods also drain the body of essential nutrients, create inflammation in the body, and provide very little nutritional value so eliminating them will greatly improve your bowel health and transit time. Gluten (the protein found in wheat) in particular is very constipating, so avoiding things like bread, pasta, bran, cereals; etc will help naturally relieve the stress on the gut and constipation.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you need this kind of fibre like you will read on the whole grain wonderbread. These are false. Nobody needs that manufactured crap. Your body needs to get your fibre from natural sources like organic vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds order to move things along. If it comes in a box, can be cooked in the microwave or takes under 5 minutes to make…it’s most likely processed. Check your labels for chemical ingredients…Beware. Processed foods can have a damaging effect on so many aspects of your health but I wont go into that here.
If you want your colon to move, you need to move!! Take a walk, do some yoga, get your body pumping so that your muscles get used to moving. Especially for those people in desk jobs sitting all day, you are especially prone to constipation from lack of muscle tone and movement. The old saying is true, “move it, or lose it” so get active. I highly recommend walking and doing some twisting as you go as this stimulates the large intestine and wakes up the colon. Yoga is also amazing for getting those digestive juices flowing as all the twisting, squatting and changes in position can help relieve gas and shift things around in the gut.
Adding a magnesium supplement to your diet is a great way to help relax the muscles of the colon and loosen the compacted matter. Magnesium is essential for good health and often when we are stressed and our diets are lacking we become magnesium deficient. Try supplementing magnesium every day, however, you will need to increase your water in take with this as well so back to step one – stay hydrated. Another great way to utilise magnesium to help relieve constipation and relax your body into releasing is by taking an Epsom salts bath. The Epsom salts pull toxicity from the body, relax the muscles and a nice bath can help quiet the mind – all setting the scene for a great poop.
If you are feeling constipated, it’s quite likely that it has been going on for some time and your body is in dire need of a good detox. Colonics are a completely natural way of cleansing the large intestine where the build up is by allowing gentle flushes of water to wash away the compacted waste matter. Not only will you feel incredible relief during and after a colonic as the waste is removed, its will clear the pathway for greater bowel health moving forward as you will likely release weeks worth of toxicity (weighting kilos) in one session. Constipation is a physical issue but can have detrimental mental and emotional effects as well so by releasing all that no longer serves you, cleansing the body and clearing off the build up on the intestinal wall, you may find yourself feeling more peaceful, rejuvenated and inspired to eat healthy and get back on track. Colonics will also fully rehydrate the body (which we already discussed is essential for bowel movements and full body health) and remove parasites, undigested food and mucus from the impacted areas as well.
Quick tip: Before you come in for a colonic, try to fast for at least 4 hours. This will make the session more effective as you are not also trying to digest at the same time and it will make it more comfortable for you. I love my colonics first thing in the morning as my stomach has been empty for hours and it really sets the tone for the rest of the day. Make sure you take your probiotics after each session to repopulate the good bacteria in your gut, which will inspire healthy colonies to form, protecting you from invaders.
7. BAKING SODA
If you don’t have time to come in for a colonic and are looking for an at home remedy colon cleanse, my best advice would be to try a 4 hour + fast and then a teaspoon of baking soda (aluminium free) in a glass of water. This is also THE CHEAPEST colon cleansing product on the market. (As you will learn, I am also a budget queen so this one really hits all the marks for me.) My husband swears by baking soda cleanses as he regularly works Fly in Fly Out work in remote places where there are no colonics available and the travel, mixed with the poor quality of food offered at the camps and the stress of being away from home can be quite constipating. One teaspoon of baking soda when he gets home from work and it gets everything moving. Its quick, easy, effective, safe and even better – extremely alkalising!! Baking soda flushes are such a win in every category, the only downside is the taste (which is extremely salty) but in my opinion it’s worth sucking it up for a great shit.
8. CASTOR OIL
Castor oil has been used forever in the treatment of constipation as it is a natural stimulant laxative for the bowel. It is a vegetable oil made form the castor bean and is colourless, odourless and almost tasteless liquid and when digested in the small intestine, promotes peristalsis in the large intestine thus stimulating a bowel movement relieving constipation. Whether or not you take it orally (15ml is recommended) or soak a warm cloth and let it absorb through your belly, castor oil is a great way to relieve constipation naturally. Just be prepared if taken orally, in some people this can bring on a bowel motion quickly so best to take it at home when you don’t have anywhere to be. Although the taste again isn’t great, it will certainly do the trick and the castor oil soaks are extremely relaxing. About 80% of the oil will get absorbed into the colon from the pack so put your feet up, turn down the lights and let your body absorb the oil to help facilitate movement in the colon.
With these 8 simple strategies to reduce and relieve constipation, you should be flushing in no time! Remember the best way to stay healthy and keep regular is to have a healthy diet full of organic natural fibre, stay hydrated and be active! Always best to start with the basics and if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out!