A lot of people are surprised by the idea of constipation being a bit of a vicious cycle. But let me explain…
Many of us are sedentary during the day – typically sat at a desk, behind the wheel of a car, and then on the sofa in the evenings. This isn’t how the human body was designed to be, and so it has knock-on effects. One of them being that our bowel movements slow down, due to our reduction in physical activity.
So our inactivity can trigger constipation, leaving us feeling bloated, sluggish, and generally a bit ‘off’. Where does that leave us? Not going to the gym, because we feel a bit off, but instead sitting on the sofa. And the cycle repeats.
There’s another pattern that commonly takes place with this too. When constipation becomes too uncomfortable, people often reach for over the counter laxatives. These can swing the pendulum too far the other way, and then we end up with diarrhea. This dehydrates us, leading to constipation again.
For much of my twenties, I had IBS, so I know how uncomfortable and frustrating it is to be always bloated and sore. I became very interested in bowel movements as a measure of general health. Thankfully, I have been educated on how to build daily bowel movements into my daily routine. Now, its just part of my morning and my days are better because I’m not uncomfortable anymore.
Many of my clients suffer from bowel issues in one form or another. It’s actually very common. We just don’t know how many of our friends are affected because it’s not something that you generally chat about over a coffee or on social media!
I’m well past the embarrassment stage – pooping is important, so let me share my top tips for regular bowel movements with you…
The primary cause of constipation is a lack of water in the colon. Faecal matter sits in your bowel, dried up and unable to pass because we simply do not have enough water in our bodies. Most of us (avg. 75% in the US) are dehydrated on a daily basis.
In the colon alone, 5 to 10 pounds of fecal matter can be stored at any one time. Just imagine all that sitting there (as you reach for your water bottle)…
Drinking more water is a habit that we can build into our days, a little bit at a time. Something as simple as having a glass of water while you wait for your morning coffee to brew can make a big difference to your body.
Now don’t tense up here! I’m not going to tell you to do a BIG workout every day. I just want to encourage you to move a bit more, as our body was designed to do in the first place.
Remembering that we weren’t designed to be sedentary – how about getting up from your desk at lunchtime and taking a little stroll?
This isn’t really about sweat and endorphins – although I do love those – but that’s another topic entirely. The aim here is to promote blood flow in your body and keep everything ‘ticking over’ nicely.
Eat natural sources of fibre
Now you might be worried that fibre is going to give you diarrhea – especially if you’ve had a bad experience with an over-the-counter laxative that contained it. But natural sources of fibre are less intense and are what our bodies need for regular bowel movements.
If you are currently having a childhood flashback to your grandmother trying to make you eat prunes, then relax, I am not going to suggest that!
Seriously, don’t worry – fibre is everywhere in real, whole foods. From brown rice to all veggies, fruits, and salads, you can get your body what it needs easily.
Why not make it fun and varied? You could eat seasonal, locally produced vegetables from a farmer’s market. And how about trying one new fruit or vegetable each week?
My final suggestion for today – try a ‘Squatty Potty’ step for your toilet. Our colon lays straighter when we squat rather than sit, and so this helps us to poop too. Toilets weren’t around when humans first evolved. We used to squat all the time, so it’s not as weird as it sounds at first!
Once your bowls get into the daily habit, you will find that you become regular and that constipation will become a thing of the past. It’s a lovely feeling to be free from that bloating and discomfort.
Do you suffer from constipation or IBS right now? If you have any questions then feel free to leave me a comment below.