How to avoid Constipation
What is Constipation?The medical texts define constipation as infrequent or incomplete bowel movements.
Ideally, we should have a small bowel movement after each meal, but the medically accepted frequency is one every day.
Severe constipation is called obstipation, where an obstruction is formed by hard, dry faeces.
If we feel like we "need to go" but do not "go" for whatever reason, the next motion will be almost always be harder.
Keeping things MovingWe need to consider several issues when dealing with constipation:
HydrationLack of hydration is the most common cause of constipation, and other symptoms may include feeling thirsty, a dry mouth and perhaps a headache.
Severe dehydration can cause more serious problems, and even death.
The body has a natural ability to maintain soft bowel movements by regulating the water content in the bowel.
The body needs to replace water that lost to blood, cells, bowels, kidneys, perspiration and lungs, naturally more in warmer, drier climate, or if we are exercising heavily, or taking fluid medication.
If we are consuming less water than we are losing, the bowels will "dry out" causing constipation.
If we consume more than we are losing, we will urinate more often, flushing the kidneys and disposing of toxins, however if we drink way too much water, this causes hyponatremia (sodium loss), which can cause the body to retain too much water by swelling cells. This can affect the brain, leading to confusion, disorientation, nausea, vomiting, seizures or death.
Generally, anything from one to four litres daily is required, depending on body mass, temperature, humidity, exercise level and many other factors. Between 50% and 80% of our lean body mass is water. The average normal consumption of water is 2.6 litres a day for men, and 2.1 for women, which is about the recommended 8 glasses a day, but we get about half of this from the food we eat. If we drink coffee, tea, orange juice, milk and other drinks containing water, this counts toward our total water intake, but our body has to dispose of the waste products we consume along with these drinks, so some additional water is required to flush the kidneys. Urine should be pale yellow, about the colour of a stick-it note. If urine is too pale, we may be consuming more water than we need, and if too dark (or not urinating at all), we may be dehydrating and urine will be darker. Note that if we consume beetroot juice, urine can turn red, or too much riboflavin (vitamin B2) will turn urine fluorescent yellow.
Fibre - PsylliumNatural, raw foods are the easiest and best way to get more fibre into the diet, especially fruit. An apple a day can keep both constipation and the doctor away.
Celery also helps. Well known for diuretic properties, celery helps the digestive process by adding water and fibre in the bowel to keep things moving along.
For extra fibre, a teaspoon of psyllium husk in a glass of water or juice will help speed the passage through the gut.
This product will expand as it absorbs moisture, so it MUST be consumed with a large quantity of water, otherwise there is a risk of chocking, especially in young children, if it expands too quickly in the throat.
Unlike every other bulk psyllium I have tried, this one is ground very fine, giving a much smoother texture, and is free from all additives, sugar, etc.
Well-known fibres like Metamucil will help, but the psyllium is loaded with extra sugar, colour and flavour.
A better alternative is psyllium from LeanMachine in Australia: Psyllium
If food is low in fibre (common to most modern processed foods) it travels through the colon very slowly, and the slower it goes, the greater the chance that the body will absorb more water from the food, increasing constipation, especially if the body is dehydrated. Colon cancer risk increases significantly with slow progress through the colon.
Fibre speeds up the passage through the bowel and improves digestion.
Healthy Gut BacteriaToday's world is full of antibiotics, chemicals, parasites, bad bacteria and processed foods, all of which destroy our beneficial gut bacteria.
The average healthy adult has over 1 kg of gut bacteria, numbering over 100 trillion and essential for immunity and digestion.
80% of our immune system comes from gut bacteria, but antibiotics can destroy most of them, leaving us even more prone to disease. After a course of antibiotics, it can take 2 years for the body to restore our gut bacteria.
Gut bacteria can help prevent autoimmune disorders and inflammatory issues including Multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, Rheumatoid arthritis, Chronic fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Myalgic encephalomyelitis, Inflammatory bowel disease, Osteoarthritis, Lupus, Crohn's disease, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic skin conditions, Kidney disease, Urinary problems, and many more.
Fermented foods will help improve good gut bacteria, and probiotic supplements can help.
Missing EnzymesEvery time we cook a meal, we destroy beneficial enzymes in the food. If we consume processed food, it is almost always heated in the processing destroying all enzymes. Enzymes are destroyed as soon as the temperature of food goes over about 52 degrees celcius, about the temperature of the hot water tap at the kitchen sink.
While some cooked food can be beneficial for increased nutrient absorption, we should always aim to have at least one raw food meal a day.
An apple, a salad (no dressing), a cucumber, a stick of celery, some spinach leaves, etc are all good choices, organic where possible.
Many of the 55,000 enzymes the body needs are made in the liver, but we must provide the liver with the raw materials to do this.
Even one missing enzyme out of the 55,000 can cause chaos in the body.
For those with liver or pancreas issues, there are enzyme supplements: Digest Basic
LubricationHealthy oils such as coconut oil can be added to the diet.
One teaspoon with each meal can make a big difference, and the Medium Chain Triglycerides in coconut oil mean that we will not increase body fat, we will probably get slimmer on coconut oil.
LeanMachine: Coconut Oil
Epsom SaltsFor more extreme cases, Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate or Milk of Magnesia) can be used.
Magnesium Sulfate can increase fluid in the bowels, softening the stools.
Do not overdose!
Dissolve in a warm glass of water as directed on the packet. Add some lemon juice for better taste, and swallow.
For even more extreme cases, purchase an Enema Bag. While it is possible to use some plastic hose and a funnel, it may require the use of an assistant, which may not be a pleasant experience!
Dissolve the Epsom Salts in the specified enema dosage into 4 cups of water in a saucepan, along with three cloves of diced garlic.
Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, then allow to cool to 39 degrees Celsius, just over body temperature.
Fill the enema bag with the mixture and administer rectally while it is still warm.
In either case, do not travel too far from a toilet, as results can be explosive!
Extra magnesium can also be absorbed through the skin by taking a bath in warm water with a half-cup of epsom salts.
However, bath salts will generally not impact constipation very much unless it is used very regularly, and is generally used to get more magnesium into the body for lowering blood pressure, building strong bones and other benefits.
Medications causing ConstipationPainkillers
Any medications taken for pain, such as ibuprofen, panadol, acetminophen, aspirin or many prescription drugs can be causing constipation. These medications have a direct effect on the bowels, aggravated by chronic use of over-the-counter pain medicines.
Even a day or two of narcotic pain medicines can cause constipation.
These are some of the worst offenders for constipation.
Older tricyclic antidepressants block bowel contractions. The newer antidepressants, including the SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) such as Prozac can leave us straining and unable to go.
To improve the mind and the body, try Vitamin D3 to relieve depression naturally and avoid the constipation of prescription drugs.
Zofran is often precribed to ease nausea, but has a negative impact on serotonin, increasing constipated risk. Nausea can be relieved naturally with a cup of ginger tea, or adding ginger to meals.
Nexium and other heartburn drugs bind us up, especially if taken long-term. Nexium is a PPI (Proton Pump Inhibitor) that depletes the body of Vitamin B12 and is one of the most dangerous prescription drags available, destroying many lives by causing Alzheimers and other brain and cardiovascular conditions.
Worse are antacids containing toxic aluminium, also affecting the brain.
Many doctors prescribe Nexium for high stomach acid when it is actually caused by LOW stomach acid!
Forget Nexium and use a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water before meals.
Blood pressure drugs
Medications to lower your blood pressure like calcium channel blockers, diuretics, etc can cause not only constipation, but a host of other side effects. Diuretics pull water out of our system, losing the water we need to soften the stool.
Lower blood pressure by losing excess weight, eating a healthy diet, forget sugar and all processed foods.
If the medication gives us a dry mouth, it gives us constipation!
Allergy medications are a sneaky cause of constipation.
Try cleaning up the diet by quitting processed foods and the allergies may well disappear.
Yes, laxatives can actually cause constipation once we start the laxative cycle, causing dependency. Think twice before reaching for a laxative. It may help short-term, but make things worse in the long run. If you need occasional help, look for a natural laxative, and don't make it a habit!
WarningsIf there is vomiting, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or kidney disease, consult a doctor before taking any laxatives.
SummaryConstipation is not to be accepted as a fact of everyday life.
Constipation may lead to hemorrhoids, fecal incontinence or diseases like leaky gut or colon cancer.
Make sure you get enough potassium in the diet to keep stools hydrated, or even better, Potassiom Citrate to help alkalise the body, or Magnesium and Potassium Aspartate as the magnesium will also help loosen the bowels.
Some other helpful products:
Psyllium which is 100% natural and very finely ground for a smooth texture.
Coconut Oil a natural colon lubricant and stool softener.
Digest Basic natural digestive enzymes.
LeanMachine online products
DisclaimerLeanMachine is not a doctor, and everyone should consult with their own health professional before taking any product to ensure there is no conflict with existing prescription medication.
LeanMachine has been studying nutrition and health since 2011 and has completed many relevant studies including:
Open2Study, Australia - Food, Nutrition and Your Health
RMIT University, Australia - Foundations of Psychology
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia - Chemistry - Building Blocks of the World
University of Washington, USA - Energy, Diet and Weight
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Health Issues for Aging Populations
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - International Nutrition
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Methods in Biostatistics I
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Methods in Biostatistics II
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA - Principles of Human Nutrition
TUFTS University, USA - Nutrition and Medicine
TUFTS University, USA - Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease I and Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease II
Technical Learning College, USA - Western Herbology, Identification, Formulas
Bath University, England - Inside Cancer
WebMD Education - The Link Between Stroke and Atrial Fibrillation
Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands - Anatomy of the Abdomen and Pelvis
LeanMachine has now read thousands of studies, journals and reports related to health and nutrition and this research is ongoing.
Updated 12th August 2018, Copyright © 1999-2018 Brenton Wight and BJ & HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285