There have been many mixed messages as to how often elimination should occur, and what is defined as constipation. Doctors will often tell you that everyone is different, and that it can be normal to go every other day, or even just a few times a week! Constipation can lead to other symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and acne. It also provides an environment for parasites to thrive.
Studies in Africa have indicated that native people eating their traditional diets have between one to three substantial bowel movements every day and that the transit time is 24 hours or less. It is believed that there is a connection between the ease of elimination these individuals experienced and the very low incidence of various bowel diseases (hemorrhoids, appendicitis, colitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, gall bladder disease and cancer of the colon).
What are the Causes?
- Processed grains: a diet that has little fruits and vegetables and is high in processed grains can cause constipation; especially white flour. Whole grains are rich in fiber, which gives bulk to the stool; however, grains that have not been sprouted or fermented are high in mineral-blocking phytic acid, which is responsible for inhibiting calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. A diet that leads to constipation and IBS results from deficiencies in minerals — especially magnesium — which further exacerbates the problem.
- Pasteurized dairy: pasteurization kills the probiotics, enzymes and heat-sensitive minerals that assist with digestion.
- Low vitamin D levels: Vitamin D is strongly linked to colon health, and has been found to be chronically low in many people. Spend more time (about 20 minutes) in the sun without sunblock, consume whole fat foods (vitamin D is fat soluble) and eat vitamin D-rich foods.
- Exercise: Strengthening your core muscles and movement can help build a strong digestive system.
- Absence of fermented foods: Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha are examples of probiotic-rich edibles that assist in breaking down food.
- Lack of digestive fire: Avoid icy drinks or food which can slow down digestion. Drink water at room temperature, and consume warm food.
- Genetically lazy peristalsis: If this runs in the family, daily magnesium and alfalfa can be very helpful.
A diet that is devoid of vegetables and fruits and high in flour-based foods like bread, muffins, crackers, cookies and chips will lead to constipation. The same thing that happens when you add water to flour happens in your body; it makes a paste. Whole grains are rich in fiber, which gives bulk to the stool and also acts like a broom to help sweep waste out of the colon. In the process of turning whole wheat into white flour, all of the fiber is removed.
Choose fruit with breakfast, and vegetables and salad with lunch and dinner. Certain fermented foods that contain good bacteria like yogurt, kefir and raw sauerkraut help with breaking down food.
- 1 Tbsp. flax seeds freshly ground added 6 ounces water, drink 1x in the morning
- Kombucha: ½ to 1 a day
- Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic: 6 ounces of water, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp honey after dinner
- Stewed Prunes- 6 prunes simmered in water for 10 minutes in the morning
- An apple a day
Supplementation for Constipation
Magnesium Citrate is one of the most effective remedies for constipation, while helping detoxify hormones.
Good bacteria helps break down food and move it along.
Alfalfa contains saponins, enzymes, minerals and is extremely effective.