Constipation means different things to different people. In the African bush, “regular” means 3 times per day. Constipation can allow toxins and old hormones to build-up in the colon and be reabsorbed into the body. It is vital to get rid of waste products; think how quickly a plate of food would go off it if it was left to sit for days. Proper digestion and elimination are essential for good health.
Tension and stress in the body can slow the bowels – digestion is shut down as blood is diverted to the limbs for so-called “emergency” situations. Other contributory factors are low water intake, low fibre diet, food intolerances, antibiotics, medication or laxatives that can make the bowel lazy. Many people find that they were constipated in childhood and this continues into adulthood and this becomes their version of normal, but normal doesn’t always mean good or right.
Drink at least 1.5 litres of water per day. On rising have a mug of hot water with lemon juice.
Eat naturally fibre-rich foods – fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, brown rice, wholegrains, peas, sweet potato, beans, lentils, broccoli and sprouts (opt for foods that are in season). Fibre helps to add bulk to the stool making it easier for the body to pass.
Include foods rich in essential fats – nuts, seeds and oily fish; these are essential to lubricate the bowel.
Sprinkle linseeds on to foods, or soak 2 teaspoons in a small amount of water overnight and drink first thing in the morning.
Avoid high bran foods, these can irritate the bowel and make it lazy or cause diarrhoea.
In more persistent cases try psyllium husks, these must be taken with plenty of water. Prunes for breakfast can also be helpful.
Avoid white flour products, dairy and red meat; these can all produce excess mucus in the colon. White flour and water can be used for wallpaper paste, this glue-like effect is certainly not what you want happening in your bowel.
Regular exercise is vital for muscle tone of the digestive system; this really helps to keep things moving and is a great release for stress and anger.
Relaxation, an antidote to stress. There can be psychological reasons for constipation – not wanting to use public toilets, fear and hanging on for too long – try to establish regular habits.
Create the time to go to the loo and go when you first feel the urge and make sure you are sitting comfortably.
Massage the colon in circular movements from top right hand side.
Under the guidance of professional try a colon cleanse with gentle non-laxative herbs.
Consider a colonic irrigation and remember to follow this with a course of probiotics (friendly) bacteria and don’t use this treatment as a remedy for poor dietary habits.
Thrive Clinical Nutrition and Naturopathic Health Eve Morley N.T AMNNA FNTP NFPTA