CONSTIPATION – A warning sign for possible deeper, more serious health issues.
But what to do if you are constipated? If you’re someone who hasn’t had a bowel movement in more than 3 days, it’s time to take action now.
What To Do If You Are Constipated.
It happened to me – A recent Mexico trip that led to serious health trouble.
My most recent Mexico trip to a Yoga Retreat in Tulum started out extraordinary. Best group. Best time. But, not so best return trip home.
During my stay, while most people complain about getting ‘the runs’, I was ‘backed up’ and constipated for close to 9 days! This never happened to me before, so I never really took it seriously, until it led to a severe sinus infection which then took hold and resulted in both ears being infected.
I later lost my hearing and had no choice but to take medication for it. Thankfully, it works and I am now on the mend and getting stronger every day.
The pain was SO unbearable that I would NOT want this to happen to you or anyone else.
Which is WHY I did extensive research on what to do if you are constipated and wrote this article.
It is estimated that up to 1.2 million Canadians suffer from chronic constipation. Many people are constipated and don’t even know it. It’s not uncommon for some people to be experiencing constipation as something ‘normal’.
Chronic constipation is NOT normal. It’s a warning sign that if not properly ‘fixed’ can lead to deeper, more serious health issues.
The American College of Gastroenterology reported at their 2015 annual meeting, that:
“Chronic constipation in adults could be an indicator of more serious gastrointestinal disorders, including ischemic colitis, colorectal cancer, gastric cancer, and diverticulitis.”
Are you someone who suffers from hemorrhoids, anal fissures (tearing of the anus) or, if you are a woman, rectal prolapse in the vagina? These are also associated with constipation.
Digestion – How It’s Supposed To Work
When you are healthy, you should have a complete bowel movement at least once per day. Moreover, after passing your stool, you should feel lighter, have more energy and feel fully ‘evacuated’.
Equally important to healthy digestion, is ‘transit time’. The time it takes from your last meal to having a bowel movement.
Healthy individuals take 18 to 24 hours for it to move through the length of your intestinal tract. If it’s more than 30 hours, then consider yourself constipated!
How To Test Your Bowel Transit Time
You can find out your transit time by timing how long it takes after you eat some beets. You can also try activated charcoal for how long it takes to turn your stools black. Remember to factor in coffee consumption. Coffee is a known ‘irritant’ to the bowel. So if you are someone who always has a bowel movement after coffee, take the coffee out of your diet for a few days and do the bowel transit time test for true accuracy.
How Healthy Is Your Colon?
Take These Test(s)
Test 1 – Take this quick test below to find out your colon risk.
Check the list below and note any that apply to you now:
- I have fewer than 2 bowel movements per day
- My bowel movements are hard to pass
- I have a protruding belly or pouch
- My bowel movements are small and hard (like rabbit turds)
- I often feel like I haven’t fully evacuated leaving me sluggish and fatigued
- I rely on ‘laxatives’ or coffee to stay ‘regular’
- I have had fewer than 3 bowel movements per week from the preceding 2 months
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, I suggest you make colon health a priority.
Test 2 – Take the Bristol Stool Test.
If you have Type 1 or 2, you have constipation. Type 3 is good, and Type 4 is considered ideal. Type 5, 6, and 7 is diarrhea.
Health Consequences To Constipation
Constipation leads to a toxic body. It causes what doctors call “autointoxication.” Poisons and waste that should be removed from your colon literally reabsorbed back into your bloodstream. Those with slow bowel transit time are faced with Fecal matter that sits immobile in the digestive tract promoting a whole host of unwanted guests (harmful bacteria, fungal and yeast).
In the end, the liver becomes overwhelmed creating a whole cascade of inflammation – the driver to all disease.
Ever heard of Fatty Liver Disease? Constipation is one of the causes. What to do about constipation? Fix digestion. Fix the liver. Heal the body.
4 Common Causes Of Constipation
1. Improper Diet and Lifestyle
One cannot overlook the importance of your diet, particularly if you’re eating one high in processed foods, sugar and low in fiber. Eating foods you are allergic to or just simply can’t digest are also known factors (gluten, dairy, soy). As can dehydration if you’re not drinking enough pure water each day. Additionally, chronic use of laxatives, low thyroid (hypothyroidism), and let’s not forget simply ignoring your cues to go.
Over time you may eventually stop feeling the urge. Not enough movement throughout the day can also contribute to slow transit time and constipation.
2. Low Stomach Acid
Hydrochloric acid is the primary acid in your stomach that plays a major role in keeping your digestive tract running smoothly.
When your body isn’t producing enough hydrochloric acid, it can cause serious and chronic constipation. Also called achlorhydria or hypochlorhydria, low stomach acid can disrupt several important bodily processes. From tissue regeneration to immune function to neurotransmitter balance.
If your stomach has low hydrochloric acid levels, you might ‘feel’ it as constipation, but you’re also suffering from nutritional deficiencies, even if you’re eating a healthy diet.
Adequate amounts of specific nutrients needed for healthy digestion include magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and zinc. Nutrients are required for proper body function. Low nutritional status = poor health.
3. Low Serotonin Levels
Part of the problem with some people is slow motility in the digestion tract.
Serotonin, the neurotransmitter most associated with ‘good mood’, is also critically important for proper gut motility. Low serotonin levels, in time, can lead to an overgrowth of pathogenic organisms that thrive in a slow environment. This then worsens serotonin levels which then leads to constipation. A vicious cycle that perpetuates itself until action is made to fix this.
Certain medications, like Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antacids (like TUMS), blood pressure medications, and certain iron supplements are also shown to contribute to constipation.
The message is clear about what to do if you are constipated… healthy digestion and regularity are fundamental to a healthy body.
If digestion is disrupted either with constipation (or diarrhea), it sets the stage for more critical issues if they go untreated.
Now that I’ve outlined the 4 Common Causes To Constipation, let’s look at 4 Steps to Fix it
What To Do If You Are Constipated.
4 Steps To Fix Constipation (Including 3 Bonus Tips)
Step 1: Speed up your transit time
To avoid toxic waste products becoming stagnant and feeding the ‘bad bugs’, make sure you have good bowel transit time. Daily exercise coupled with hydration helps food move through your colon more easily.
The best exercise for best bowel movements are rebounding, specific yoga poses such as the knee to chest (lying on your back), deep squats (legs slightly wider than hip, elbows in a prayer position and pushing against your knees, bum, as low as you can go), and spinal twists.
When it comes to hydration. Drink 1 litre with added lemon and ¼ tsp of baking soda first thing in the morning. Drink remaining water requirements throughout the day and away from meals.
Your colon pulls water out of your stool to recycle it so if you are even slightly dehydrated, your body has to remove water from your stool which can make it compacted and hard to pass.
Daily exercise and drinking enough water may be common sense but not common practice!
Step 2: Check for low stomach acid
Proper stomach acid is crucial to proper digestion. Stress, a history of too much dairy and aging are all linked to low stomach acid.
A good at home test is The Baking Soda Test. Mix ¼ tsp of baking soda in four ounces of cold water and drink the blend first thing in the morning before you eat or drink anything else. Time how long it takes for you to burp. It’s a sign of low stomach acid if it takes more than five minutes or you don’t burp at all.
The test works by triggering a chemical reaction in your stomach from mixing the base baking soda with stomach acid. The natural response if you have enough stomach acid is carbon dioxide gas, which triggers burping.
If you tested low, then try taking a digestive aid with Hydrochloric Acid (HCL), bile and pancreatic enzymes. Digestive Enzymes with HCL should be taken at a dose of one to three per meal, just before you eat.
Note: If you take a digestive aid with HCL and you get a burning sensation after just 1 cap, simply take ¼ tsp of baking soda to neutralize. This is a strong indicator that you may have an ulcer and to see your Natural Health Care Provider.
Step 3: Reset your gut flora
Constipation is a sign of an imbalance in your gut flora. Beneficial types of bacteria help with the break down of food and the production of nutrients you need to be healthy.
Probiotics are a powerful tool. Many people suffer from an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and lack of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can contribute to constipation. Often boosting beneficial bacteria with probiotics or fermented and cultured foods can support healthy elimination.
There are many professional brands out there. The ones I personally use for myself and clients are the Genestra HMF line of Probiotics.
Note: Avoid fermented foods if you have IBS, IBD, or SIBO and instead, start with a high quality probiotic until you heal your gut. Then begin slowly introducing fermented foods.
BONUS Tip 1: Bulk up your stool
This is where fiber comes in. In countries where dietary fiber is plentiful, transit time can be as little as 18 hrs.
Think about adding high fiber foods like root vegetables with their skins, whole fruits or berries, green leafy vegetables, ground flax seeds, and in moderation, properly prepared whole grains, beans, and legumes (if tolerated).
Note: those with IBS, IBD, or SIBO are best to take the skins off, and avoid seeds.
BONUS Tip 2: Get the toxins out (VERY IMPORTANT)
I personally believe this is a KEY step to ‘fixing’ constipation. Your body naturally has the ability to remove toxins, however, sometimes it needs help. This is due to an over-accumulation of toxins from various places like medications, lack of good quality sleep, poor diet, lack of filtered water, little exercise, etc.
Using natural methods to clear toxins from the body is an important step to healing the colon. I personally use a method called, Biotherapeutic Drainage that works for both children and adults. To find out more, go to https://askmichale.com/modalities/
BONUS Tip 3: Get tested for micronutrient deficiencies
Nutrients needed for proper bowel movements include B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium. I always say, test. Don’t guess. Get your micronutrients tested HERE.
Constipation is a serious digestive issue that can significantly impact your health.
I hope you found some answers to What To Do If You Are Constipated.
The vast majority of people suffering from constipation can rid themselves of the problem (and waste) in a matter of days with a few simple lifestyle changes.
However, if you don’t see improvements after trying these tips and dietary changes, you may want to consult a qualified health professional to determine if the constipation is a symptom of a more serious underlying health condition.
What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.
- Get help with gut health for options that fit your schedule. Contact Michale
- Get your personalized plan for optimizing gut health with my Simple Steps to Heal Your Gut and Regain Your Health
Michale Hartte, BASc (Nutr), NNCP, CH is your leading Nutritionist and Detox Specialist, focusing on gut-related health issues such as weight loss resistance, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, leaky gut, ulcers, IBS and Fatty Liver Disease.
For more information on how to become a client, please contact Michale at 250-718-1653 (text or phone), Email Michale or visit www.askmichale.com. Serving all English speaking countries via phone, Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp.
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