Happy 2016 everyone!!
I hope you started this year off right with a satisfying trip to the bathroom!
…………………..too soon? Okay okay….let’s small talk first. How did the holidays go for you? Were you able to continue with the determinations you made last year for a healthy mind and body? Or were there some challenges and obstacles?
Most people find the holidays very difficult due to peer pressure from family (“oh come on it’s the holidays, have one!”), unique food choices (dough with cheese wrapped in bacon, anyone?), or perhaps over-abundance of alcohol and sweets. Or maybe you were travelling away from home this holiday season and weren’t able to keep your routine. Here’s what all these things have in common: poor digestion! And more specifically, constipation.
Causes of Constipation
As a nutritionist, I’m not scared of talking about poo. In fact, I could talk about it all day because the end products of digestion give you clues to what your body needs. I’d like to encourage you all to try and become more familiar with your body’s rhythms and what they are telling you each time you eat (does your tummy rumble? Do you have immediate gas or bloating?). There are many causes of constipation, such as:
– alcohol consumption
– stress…..the ironic consequence of holidays
– eating foods you are not used to, or eating many foods at once
– excess sweets
And what are the effects? More stress, depression, irritability, increased toxicity in your body (your colon is literally hanging onto waste), weight gain, and more.
The ideal transit time of your food from mouth to toilet is 12-18 hours……which means that technically you should have at least 1 bowel movement a day! Take a second and think of your typical rhythm…..could you use more frequency? An ideal bowel movement is smooth and doesn’t require straining. There should be little reside (i.e. maybe 3 wipes worth).
If you are experiencing occasional constipation, especially after the holidays, here are a few things to try to get things back in motion for ya:
– water – easy! Get some movement back in that colon of yours. Try for 1 glass of room temperature water every hour.
– aloe – purchase food-grade organic aloe vera juice or gel, and drink 1/2 a cup daily. Aloe is cooling and soothing to your intestinal tract, and helps lubricate the colon for swift movement.
– flax or chia seeds – these seeds are full of fibre to help bulk up stool and gently stimulate the colon. They also contain essential fats that help lubricate.
– magnesium – taken at high doses, magnesium has a muscle relaxing effect. Magnesium oxide is a magnesium compound that helps draw water into the colon, helping with elimination.
– vitamin C – taken at high doses, vitamin C has a natural laxative effect. I learned this in school, then tested it out on myself. It worked 🙂 The “high dose” varies for each person but usually is seen around 2g/day or more.
In a real pickle? These are my favourite go-to supplements when things get REALLY bad! Use only occasionally.
Cleanse More from Renew Life – contains aloe, magnesium, slippery elm and rhubarb. All very toning, healing, and cooling to the gut to help with stagnation. Take 2 at night and by the morning you’re good to go 🙂
AloeLax from Nature’s Way
– A blend of aloe and fennel seeds. Pretty gentle.
Hey, what about Psyllium? Or Cascara? Or Senna?
Nope. Cascara and senna are stimulating laxative herbs that promote irritation to the colon. They can also be habit-forming. Psyllium is a fibre but can be quite scratchy to the delicate lining of the intestinal tract. Stick with fruits and vegetables, or fibres that absorb a lot of water and form a gel like ground flax, chia, or acacia gum.
Wishing your happy movements for 2016 🙂