Digestion Series Part Three: Constipation
Constipation is the topic that I get asked about the most For everyone from children to senior citizens, this is a prevalent problem.
What I address in this article is what I use and/or recommend to those in my life. You have to make wise choices for you and your families‘ health. Here is my disclaimer. If you can not try things and take full responsibility, thanks for stopping by and please proceed to the nearest medical facility.
Constipation: What is it?
Constipation is difficulty passing stools or lack of bowel movement.
Doctors and “professional” medical websites tell you it is o.k. not to go to the bathroom daily…in my opinion that is a bold faced lie, and extremely dangerous. But believe who you want, but if I am not going everyday, I am worried.
The longer “stuff” sits in your intestines, that greater chance you have of things going wrong.
Constipation can cause you to have indigestion. It cause also cause you to have bad breath, and a lack of appetite. You fell bad, smell bad, and can’t eat!
Constipation can cause you to strain while attempting to go to the restroom. Not only can you develop hemorrhoids, but you can also end of with fissures, which are very difficult to treat (even harder to live with).
Your appendix is a tube between your small and large intestine. Medical experts can not even agree on what it is there for or if we need it.
But I know it can cause you problems if you are constipated chronically. The tube can become impacted with fecal matter.
The bacteria begins to cause you pain and inflammation. If you go to the doctor, it is pretty much just standard to have it removed.
I believe you and your family can avoid unnecessary surgery with some knowledge and prevention.
What are the causes?
There is no way I could identify every possible cause of constipation, here are three possible causes
#1 Food related
Protein is an important macro nutrient.
The problem is understanding how to balance all the macro-nutrients for your optimal health.
I eat a low carb diet. So you would automatically assume I am eating large plates of meat, eggs and cheese at every meal.
To the contrary, I have eaten more vegetables since I have been low carb than I have my whole life.
If all I ate was bacon wrapped bacon with a side of bacon, I would have some digestive issues.
The fiber you get from vegetables is crucial to overall health, but especially digestive health.
If you eat a Standard American Diet (S.A.D.), you get plenty of protein, but a small amount if any fiber from food sources.
Solution: If you suffer from chronic constipation or if have problems after eating a high protein meal like a burger or steak, try reducing your portion of protein and increasing your portion of vegetables (fries are not a vegetable).
If I had to put my bets on what causes most people to have constipation, it is food glue.
Let’s do an experiment to illustrate my point.
Take some regular white flour, and start mixing all kinds of random stuff in it…milk, water, hamburger…and tell me what happens.
Next, take a slice of bread add some juice, then a egg…
No matter what you put in there, you are going to make glue.
I can not wrap my mind around how you can eat glue all the time and not expect for it to get “stuck.”
I am not suggesting that you have to go gluten free, but I will question the dependence non-nutritive carbohydrates that we Americans have.
Do not buy the lie that you need all these grains to be healthy. You are not a horse or cow.
You should get your fiber and vitamins from vegetables.
But guess what? When your diet is stuffed with pasta, bread, cakes, cookies,etc…where do you have the space or appetite for real food?
Solution: You might want to consider reducing the amount of bread dough, pasta dough, and cookie dough you consume.
Replace sandwiches with salad, pass on the rolls, and add a extra serving of vegetables.
Switching out veggies for bread will make you healthier in the long run.
Even I struggle to get enough fluid in. When you are busy, you do not stop to think about thirst.
Some people say by the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
You need water for a proper functioning digestive system.
Your intestines need to absorb water to help form and move the waste through your system.
Try flushing the toilet with no water…not going to happen, right?
Track how much liquid you are getting for a entire week.
Then increase your intake by a serving, for example, if you drink one cup of liquid at dinner, have two.
Keep increasing your intake until you reach an optimal level for you. What is that you ask?
You will know, you will feel better and look better when you are drinking enough. I would strive for 64 ounces or more a day, which is equal to the 8 cups that is recommend.
Equivalent: A 2 quart pitcher, four 16.9 (half-liter) water bottles or a half gallon of water a day.
# 2 Inactivity
If you do not move, why should your bowels?
One of the suggestions on how to treat constipation is to increase activity.
That is something mainstream medicine and I can agree on
We as Americans are chronically inactive. So if we do not move, why should our bowels?
You do not have to run a marathon to stay healthy, but increasing the amount of daily activity you get will improve your overall health, and digestive health as well
You can not improve what you do not measure. I wear a fitness tracker. So I can not lie and say I walk three miles a day if clearly I only get about a half mile or less.
Use your smartphone, buy a fitness tracker, or a good old fashion pedometer, but measure your steps.
Once you know where you start, make a goal to increase your activity. Your body will thank you for it.
# 3 Electrolyte Imbalance
The only time you usually hear the word electrolyte is regards to athletic activity and severe illness like vomiting.
We all need to worry about electrolytes each and everyday.
What are electrolytes? The “main” minerals involved are potassium,chloride, sodium, calcium and magnesium.
Salt (sodium chloride) is one of those things that has been demonized by mainstream media and medicine.
Eating the Standard American Diet, it is not hard to get tons of salt which provide you with sodium chloride. Too much of anything is dangerous, but so is not enough of something.
But where do you get the other components?
The problem is you don’t.
When you do not get one piece of the puzzle, the entire picture is out of sync and it causes problems…like constipation.
Your body needs to absorb the fluid that comes from the stomach and turn it into stool. When you have an electrolyte imbalance that absorption can be hindered. Not enough fluid left in the stool…you have clogged cemented pipes that do not want anything moving through them.
Solution: There are “clean” electrolyte supplements, but that could be expensive. Not saying, it might not be a worthy investment as you get your diet in order.
A cheaper option is Propel,which has a plain electrolyte water you can buy in stores, right next to the sugary options.
BUT…of course my main suggestion is going to be to…you guessed it…eat more vegetables. The potassium and magnesium you need is going to be in those foods.
I am not saying you might not need to supplement. As a matter of fact, I do believe that you do need to supplement, but that is a topic for another article.
I hope I have given some help in your search to find answers about constipation.
If you missed the last part of this series, check out this post about the top three natural treatments for digestive issues.
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