People like to pretend that the topic repulses them, but in truth I think we’re all a little bit fascinated by what ends up in our toilet. Who here hasn’t had a great bowel movement and then just wanted to tell someone about it?
On the other hand, if you find your digestive system is not working properly, it can greatly affect many aspects of your life. If you are all blocked up you will sleep badly, feel sluggish and tired, have abdominal, stomach and lower back pain, and generally be very grouchy. While we don’t want to admit it, a good regular BM is essential to a happy life, and will be sorely missed if you are not getting it.
So what could be the cause?
There could be several things out of balance with your diet if you are constipated. If you eat foods that are high in trans-fat or animal fats, or high in sugar (or all of them!) then you may be having trouble pooping. This will happen if your diet consists mostly of meat, dairy or eggs, or refined sugar products like chocolate, soft drinks and baked goods. If you are not drinking enough water this will also cause bowel problems, as can drinking too much caffeine or alcohol.
There are a number of medications that may cause bowel concerns if you are taking them regularly. This includes some over the counter pain relief such as codeine and ibuprofen, iron tablets, antacids, sedatives, and some medications prescribed for depression, epilepsy and high blood pressure. Also if you have been taking too much laxative medication your body can react the opposite way and become dependent on it, meaning you may be constipated even while taking laxatives.
Some illnesses and health conditions can cause trouble with your bowel movements. The most common of these is Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, which affects a large percentage of the population. Illness or disorders of the intestines, abdomen, anus and rectum may also cause problems. This can include some cancers, thyroid issues, gallstones, nerve conditions such as MS, and post-operative issues in that area.
If you have a generally still lifestyle, such as working at a desk and driving a lot, then you may find the lack of exercise may cause constipation problems. Also if you put off having a bowel movement when your body tells you it’s time, perhaps because you don’t like public toilets or going to the bathroom at work, again this can cause your system to get blocked up.
Pregnancy or breastfeeding
Both pregnancy and breastfeeding can bring on constipation in the mother, because all of the good bits of what you eat and drink will be going to the baby’s needs. If your baby is putting pressure on your abdomen you may be having difficulty pooping, and you can have difficulties going in the few days after giving birth because your pelvic muscles maybe strained.
The liquid in your diet will go to making breastmilk, which is why breastfeeding moms are always thirsty. Keeping your fluids up is very important for women either growing or feeding babies. If your pre-natal vitamin is high in iron, this also may be the culprit.
Some great natural remedies to help get you moving again
Increasing the fiber in your diet can help greatly. This means increasing your whole fruit and vegetable intake, especially leafy green vegetables. Wholegrain products are also helpful such as oats, quinoa, seeds, beans, bran, lentils, almonds and brown rice. Some particularly good products include sesame seeds, molasses, olive oil, avocado and natural prune or pear juice. Juice or dried fruit is particularly helpful if the sufferer is young or doesn’t like taking supplements.
Another way you can take fiber is in supplement form, such as psyllium or methylcellulose. These are generally easy to take as a daily addition to your diet, and are reasonably pleasant tasting.
As well as fiber supplements, there are a number of other natural products you can try to get your system working normally. Products containing senna can help, as can mineral oils and milk of magnesia.
There are supplements which are specifically formulated to assist with IBS and other bowel problems, such as multivitamins, colon cleansers, lubricants and stimulants. Talk to the expert staff at Eric’s today to get more information about products which may bring you relief.
There are very few health conditions that can’t be improved by increasing your water intake, and this is certainly one of them. It is generally recommended that adults drink 6-8 glasses of water a day, which is usually two of those drink bottles you can keep on your desk. Making this change to your lifestyle is probably the easiest way to combat chronic constipation. Water is particularly good if mixed with a little lemon.
You could also add more herbal tea to your diet, including peppermint, dandelion or ginger tea.
Exercise and natural therapies
You simply have to get moving. This doesn’t need to be a massive cardio commitment; a walk every day will suffice to get your digestive system working again. Yoga and stretching which specifically targets the area is also helpful. Some people have also found great relief through alternative therapies such as homeopathy, acupuncture and aromatherapy. The scientific knowledge around the benefits of natural therapies for constipation is still limited to date, so make sure that you talk to your doctor about the type of treatment you are seeking.
Never ignore your body
The best way to relieve constipation naturally is to listen to your body and do what it tells you to do. Trying to have a regular bowel movement at the same time each day can really help, as can not delaying going to the bathroom when you feel the urge come on.
Definitely don’t be embarrassed by this problem however; the best thing you can do is talk about it and get the treatment solutions that you need. Talk to the staff at Eric’s today, they don’t mind at all talking about poop, and you might be surprised by just how much they know about it!