One of the most common things I find in people who come to see me, is constipation. The allopathic medical community commonly defines constipation as having less than three bowel movements a week, but in the naturopathic community, we consider less than one bowel movement a day as constipation. I would take it even further and say that if you are having to strain or spend a lot of time pushing, or if your poops are incomplete (“I could kind of go more, but I can’t really go more”), then you are constipated.
Pooping is how we eliminate a lot of toxins from our body and if those toxins are not being eliminated, but rather sitting in the colon for days on end, some of those toxins may be getting reabsorbed and may also be damaging to the tissues of the colon. I suspect that the prevalence of constipation is a strong contributing factor to the high rates of colon cancer we have in this country. A less serious and more common consequence of constipation is acne or other skin problems.
- Try increasing your water intake to between a liter and a half to two liters a day (caution – if you have kidney problems or are on any heart medications, including blood pressure meds, check with your doctor about your appropriate level of water consumption).
- Add in some fiber, especially psyllium fiber or some kind of bran fiber. Whenever you increase your fiber intake, make sure you also increase your water intake to compensate and help move it through the system. Also, it’s usually a better idea to increase your fiber slowly over a few days, rather than all at once; so your system has time to adapt and you don’t get gassy or even more constipated.
- If you’ve increased your water and your fiber, and you are still not having daily, easy to pass, and complete bowel movements, you might consider if food sensitivities are an issue. These have become unfortunately common in recent years and can cause a whole host of health problems, with constipation (or other bowel troubles) often being the first indicator. If you think these might be something you’re dealing with, see your naturopathic doctor (or maybe a future blog post here) to find out how to address this issue.
So remember – getting excited about pooping isn’t just for seniors anymore. Having daily bowel movements is a great way to get an increase in energy, clearer skin and a healthier body.