Did you know you should ideally have two to three complete and satisfying bowel movements a day, one for each main meal, and that they should be inoffensive in odour? So if you aren’t visiting the toilet regularly, straining or simply leaving a nasty whiff behind and offending your house mates, friends or family, then something’s not right.
Your digestive tract is so long that if you stretched it out vertically it would be more than 5 times the length of an average adult. Just your intestines alone have a surface area the size of a tennis court and your large intestine is 1.5 metres long and 6.4cm in diameter.
So you’re probably wondering how long should it take between eating a meal and passing a stool?
An adequate transit time is 12-24 hours. If you want to test your transit time eat some non digestible foods e.g sweetcorn or tomato skins and measure the time it takes before it appears in your stool. Yes you do have to take a look in the toilet after you have done the deed to find out.
Is your transit time too long? If yes then most likely you are suffering with stools that are hard and difficult to pass. Chronic constipation leads to unpleasant symptoms including:
- Coated tongue
- Bad Breath
- Lack of energy
- Haemorrhoids and varicose veins
- Acne and skin conditions
- Chronic respiratory conditions and mucous build up
While these symptoms may seem to be harmless, although annoying, frustrating and uncomfortable for you, the real problem is that left untreated you could end up with more serious conditions such as:
- Diverticulosis/ Diverticulitis
- Bowel Cancer
Around 100 new cases of colorectal (bowel) cancer are diagnosed each day in the UK and it is the third most common cancer after breast and lung.
Laxatives are not the solution to constipation
The UK laxative market has grown by a third to £52m since 2001. Worldwide, laxatives are the second largest selling pharmaceuticals, ahead of antacids. You are probably unaware of the dangers because laxatives are so widely available at chemists and supermarkets. Yet their effects are temporary and the dangers and side effects of laxative abuse include:
- Irritated (Colon) mucosa
- Food Allergies
- Inadequate bowel flora
- Kidney Disease
- Heart failure
- Lazy colon and inappropriate muscle tone
- Mineral deficiencies
- Worse constipation
I am going to share with you ten steps to resolve constipation.
It is essential that you follow steps 1 to 5 every single day, following a course of colonic irrigation to cleanse and exercise the bowel, and to include these as part of your ongoing lifestyle changes.
Steps 6 to 10 need to be included in your diet and lifestyle if you have already have completed a course of colon hydrotherapy and followed steps 1 to 5 religiously for one month and still need a helping hand.
1. Water or Herbal Infusions
Drink 2 litres of water everyday 30 minutes away from food. Eating and drinking at the same time will make you bloated as your digestive enzymes get diluted at a time they need to be working hard to breakdown your food.
I suggest refilling a 2 litre bottle or jug of water everyday and make sure you have finished it by the end of the day.
Herbal teas also count as your water intake if you have 6 – 8 mugs a day
Here are a few of my favourites:
- Camomile, Peppermint, Fennel; great for aiding digestion, eliminating gas and I.B.S
- Rooibos: A delicious alternative to english breakfast tea. This tea tastes even better and is naturally caffeine and tannin free
- Licorice: to prevent sugar cravings
- Pau D’arco: anti fungal and boosts immune system
- Marshmallow root: for bladder infections such as cystitis and stomach ulcers
If you don’t fancy a herbal tea, make your own infusions of hot water with lemon or lime (wakes up the digestive system), ginger (warming and improves circulation), fresh mint leaves (refreshing and digestive aid), cinnamon sticks (reduces blood sugar) or turmeric (anti inflammatory and cancer prevention).
Avoid or limit dehydrating beverages such as coffee, tea, fizzy drinks and alcohol.
If drinking alcohol, have a glass of water after every alcoholic drink.
2. Potty training and squatting
If you suffer with chronic constipation you will have lost awareness of the “need to go” due to repeatedly ignoring the call of nature.
Do you prioritise answering the phone, finishing an email, an extra 5 minutes in bed or watching your favourite program over ‘going to the toilet’?Well let me remind you that there are few more satisfying events in the world than having a good ‘poo’ or two everyday!
So here’s how to retrain your bowels: Allocate 5-10 minutes every morning to sit on the toilet and pop your feet up on a footstool or upside down bin so that your knees are higher than your hips. The modern toilet is simply too high and putting your feet up recreates a squatting position.
Squatting may not sound sophisticated but “squatting” is how people still do it in “undeveloped” countries where constipation is rare.
You may also sip on a hot drink such as hot water & lemon while sitting on the toilet to wake up the digestive system and help you to relax.
Make sure you practise this exercise everyday for at least one month regardless of the results so that you factor ‘toilet time’ back into your busy life.
While the urge to “go” may occur at other times during the day, what is important is to “Never ignore the call of nature”. Once you have missed that window of opportunity you may not be able to get it back later. So don’t miss it!
The toilet is your throne and it is waiting for you!
3. Chia Seeds
Soak 2 tablespoons of Chia seeds in water, hemp milk, coconut milk, rice milk or goat’s milk overnight in the fridge
In the morning they will have formed a “Chia Gel“. Eat and drink this first thing in the morning.
This Chia gel or Chia drink (depending on how thick or runny you prefer it) works as an intestinal broom for your intestines! You can also soak them together with organic oats overnight for a delicious muesli base and add fresh chopped peaches, pears, apples or berries and nuts and seeds in the morning.
Never heard of Chia seeds before? Well they were a staple of the Incan, Mayan and Aztec cultures and Chia is the Mayan word for “strength”.
The ancient superfood is going to do more than just get your bowels going, it’s other benefits include:
- The richest vegetarian source of Omega 3 fatty acids, great for your brain and skin.
- 2 times the protein of any other seed or grain
- Supports weight loss/balance
- High in calcium
- Helps with thyroid conditions
- Keeps blood sugar levels balanced
- Beneficial if you have diabetes or it runs in the family
4. Fresh vegetables and salad
Your plate at both lunch and dinner should include approximately 70% fresh vegetables or salad. So if you usually have a sandwich, sushi or pasta dish by itself then that won’t really do the trick. Whatever you choose to eat, have it with a large portion of vegetables or salad.
Raw vegetables have all the nutrients intact. However if you don’t usually eat raw, your digestive system may need a helping hand so you may wish to start with lightly steamed vegetables or lightly stir fried with raw coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil. You can later move to a eating 50% raw and 50% lightly cooked.
Always include plenty of Greens e.g. Kale, Chard, Asparagus, Fennel, Celery, Cucumber, Courgettes, Rocket, Chicory, Avocado, Bok Choi, Spinach, Brocolli, Green peppers, French runner beans.
Season with 2-4 tablespoons of cold pressed oils onto each meal eg. extra virgin olive oil, hemp seed oil, pumpkin seed oil or avocado oil.
Be aware that unsprouted beans and lentils, onions and vegetables from the cuciferous family such as brocolli, cabbage and cauliflower can cause a lot of gas and bloating, particularly if you eat them in large portions and don’t take the time to chew.
Good bacteria should be living happily in your gut, taking care of your immune system and bulking out your stools to ensure regular and complete bowel movements.
We will have picked up good bacteria from our mothers while making the journey into the big wide world via the birth canal and while drinking “healthy” breast milk as a baby.
However not all of us had the same start in life and may already have been in need of supplementation from babyhood.
Even for those of you that had a sufficient amount of good bacteria as a baby they may have been wiped out or reduced from one of the following factors:
- roaccutane for acne
- contraceptive pill, implant or injection
- mercury fillings
To start to replenish your good bacteria levels it would be a wise idea to avoid all of those listed above.
Stress causes disbiosis so never eat while arguing or in a hurry. Make sure you are sitting down to eat and concentrating on what you are eating and making sure to chew thoroughly by putting your fork down between every mouthful and chewing 20-30 times.
Practice yoga, meditation or qi gong to help you to relax.
See a mercury free dentist to make sure that none of your mercury fillings are leaking and consider getting them replaced safely.
Take probiotics with a human strain of good bacteria, so that they are able to implant in your gut, for at least 3 months or ongoing depending on your diet and lifestyle
(Tel +44(0)1663718850 patient of Katherine Ung W2 4BE: Order Ultraprobioplex ND)
6. Fermented foods
Foods from around the world, from europe through to asia, have had a tradition of fermented foods, as their health benefits have long been known.
Probiotics occur naturally in aged foods and eating them regularly is another way to boost your good bacteria.
Once your bowel regularity is restored you may no longer even have to take probiotics if you eat fermented foods on a regular basis.
Here’s a list of very good fermented foods:
- Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage that is a popular German condiment and was also eaten during Roman times.
- Natto is a Japanese dish of fermented soya which is also high in vitamin K2 to boost bone, teeth and cardiovascular health.
- Tempeh is fermented soya and also one of the best sources of vegetarian protein and vitamin B12. Note that eating unfermented soya such as tofu or soya milk are linked to thyroid dysfunction and mineral deficiencies.
- Miso is a fermented japanese paste produced from soy beans, barley or rice.
- Kimchi is a traditional korean condiment made of assorted pickled vegetables with a spicy kick
- Kefir is regularly consumed by Bulgarians and the word kefir is said to have originated from the Turkish word ‘Keif’ meaning ‘good feeling’. It is made from a mixture of goats milk and fermented kefir grains.
- Lassi is a raw yoghurt drink full of probiotics that is popular in the Indian diet.
- Unpasteurised Olives taste far more delicious than pasteurised olives with a unique full bodied flavour, as well as containing all the health benefits. If you are not lucky enough to have your own olive trees in the meditteranean then you may need to put in some effort to track them down.
7. Food Intolerances
Your constipation may be the result of a food intolerance. Common food intolerances include wheat, gluten, dairy and milk and eggs and yeast.
Perhaps you suffer with I.B.S and alternate between constipation and diarrhea? This is often an indication of dairy intolerance and all dairy should be avoided ongoing.
For other suspected food intolerances, avoid eating the suspect food group for 12 weeks after which it may be possible for you to reintroduce that food eating it only every 3rd or 4th day.
Everything in moderation is the key. You’ve heard it before, variety is the spice of life.
Christopher Columbus nicknamed the papaya, also known as paw paw, the “fruit of the angels” and perhaps it was no coincidence that this magical fruit contains a very special digestive enzyme called “Papain“, making the papaya the all time number one fruit for resolving constipation.
Suggestions for eating papaya or paw paw:
- A) Simply wash the fruit, cut it lengthways, scoop out the seeds and eat it with a spoon.
- B) Sprinkle papaya with lime juice.
- C) Make a papaya salsa with jalapeno peppers and ginger to use with scallops, prawns or fish.
- D) Make a papaya smoothie with coconut, hemp, rice or goat’s milk.
Green algae are the highest sources of chorophyll in the world and of all the green algae studied chorella has the highest, often ranging from 3-5% of natural chorophyll.
This high chorophyll content will restore the growth of good bacteria in your gut.
Other benefits of chorella include:
- eliminating bad breath and foul smelling stools
- treating anemia
- alkalising your body to restore a healthy p.H
- reducing high blood pressure to prevent heart attacks and strokes
- removing pesticides and heavy metals such as Mercury from your body
You can take chorella in tablets or add a spoon of powdered chorella to a green juice or green smoothie
Juice idea: cucumber, celery, fennel, kale, pear or apple + chorella
Smoothie idea: avocado, coconut or hemp milk + chorella
Read more about chorella:
All exercise is good for getting the bowels going, so no excuses, just get moving.
Here are a few easy ideas:
- Find your inner child again and get trampolining. Buy a rebounder from your local sports shop and use it for 10 minutes twice a day for a simple, fun and cost effective way to wake up the digestive system. Not advisable directly after eating so try it before breakfast and before dinner.
- Abdominal exercises on a slanted board are also helpful as they counteract the negative effect that gravity may have on proper bowel functioning.
- Stretching, particularly of the back, abdominal and waist is also helpful. You may also find yoga or hot yoga beneficial.
Anal retention isn’t good for you
Constipation is not just an annoying occurence, it is an indication of your health problems to come.
So let’s resolve constipation, without the use of damaging laxatives, by exercising your bowels with a series of colonic irrigation to restore healthy peristalsis, implanting good bacteria back into your gut and making those diet and lifestyle changes.
Anal retention isn’t good for you and is surely annoying all your friends and family. Having two satisfying bowel movements a day is sure to put a smile on your face and theirs :-). So follow these ten totally terrific tips to kiss goodbye to constipation.