Do you have a tendency toward constipation? As a Mind-Body counselor, I ask my clients many questions to get an understanding of what is taking place in their lives and bodies. The first question almost always is, “What did your doctor say you are dealing with?” From there, I ask more questions, which always includes questions about bowel movements. I am surprised to hear people tell me they go once every two to three days. What is even more surprising is that they think this is normal. In my mind, this is a mild form of constipation. In reality, you should go at least once a day, if not more.
Constipation can be caused by a variety of factors, including improper diet, stress, certain medications and insufficient water intake.
Mineral and fiber intake. An often-ignored cause of constipation is a low level of minerals in the diet. Additionally, eating habits and food manufacturing processes have combined to render our diets lacking in fiber, another major cause of constipation. Most food products derived from grains do not incorporate the grain’s protective, indigestible fiber shell, which is often removed for better processing and quicker cooking. Not good. Fiber has at least two important roles within the intestinal environment. It acts as a gentle “broom” sweeping against the intestinal villi, the fingerlike threads through which nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. Fiber also provides “bulk”, which absorbs water and moves matter along the digestive pathway to help ensure that nothing clogs the lining of the intestines. Fiber in the intestinal tract also acts as a triggering device. When it absorbs water, swells, and pushes matter against the colon walls, this provides a signal to the brain to evacuate. Nerve endings within the intestinal wall sense the pressure and tell the brain to create the muscular motions that are necessary to move fecal matter through the colon. It is in this respect that a mineral deficiency can contribute to constipation. Minerals like calcium and magnesium are involved in nerve transmissions and muscular contractions. So if minerals are low, the muscles may not efficiently move matter through the colon.
Your diet. Constipation can be eliminated by increasing fiber in the diet, eating more organically-grown raw fruits and vegetables, increasing liquid consumption—particularly distilled water and organic fruit and vegetable juices. Taking a probiotics formula, such as acidophilus, helps digestion, assimilation and elimination. Taking a multi-mineral formulation is also of primary importance because minerals participate in enzyme transactions as well as muscular transactions.
Helpful Nutrients and Herbs Calcium and Magnesium facilitate the muscular transactions necessary to move matter through the intestinal tract.
Apple Pectin, along with other fibers, is excellent for the intestinal tract. Fiber is beneficial for many different reasons such as pushing matter along, absorbing toxins, and helping to absorb water to help matter flow easily.
Butternut Root Bark, Prunes, Senna are well known for aiding in bowel movements and they are not addictive.
Exercise, exercise, exercise. Finally, do not forget to exercise, which benefits circulation to the entire body, including the muscles involved in digestion and evacuation.
So what about you? How regular are you? What’s your diet like? Are there enough fiber and liquids in your daily diet?