If you are having difficulty having bowel movements, know that you are not alone, constipation affects many people. Although constipation is a very common digestive problem, it is not normal. Constipation means something different to different people depending on how many bowel movements they have a week. It is defined as an inability for proper elimination of stools from the colon and is a result of hard or lumpy stools. Having bowel movements three times or less per week is an indicator that you are constipated. There is a lot of debate when it comes to this topic but generally, having at least one daily bowel movement a day is normal.
Constipation can be caused by many different factors and some are inadequate amounts of fiber in the diet, not drinking enough water, little or no exercise, certain medications, dairy and dairy products, stress and other digestive issues.
Here are some tips to help with constipation naturally
- Proper Hydration – many people are dehydrated and don’t even know that they are. It is recommended to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. Drinking beverages like coffee, alcohol, soda (pop) can all contribute to dehydration which is the loss of water from the body. Just 1 cup of coffee or 1 cup of soda (pop) can cause the body to lose 2 cups of water because it increases urination. Be sure to increase water intake to replace the water you have lost if you enjoy drink any of these beverages or try to reduce or eliminate them from your diet.
- Magnesium – try adding a magnesium supplement of at least 400mg daily. A magnesium deficiency slows down peristalsis, which is the contraction and relaxation of the muscles and can cause constipation. Magnesium is an essential mineral needed by the body and much of it is lost during processing of foods so you may want to add it to your supplement list.
- Increase Dietary Fiber – slowly increase fiber into your diet daily, at least 25 to 35 mg daily. Eating foods high in fiber like legumes, fruits, vegetables and whole grains are great to help relieve constipation. Seeds like chia, flax, hemp, sunflower and psyllium can make bowel movement easier because not only are they high in fiber but they soften stools by adding moisture.
- Exercise – spend at least 20 to 30 minutes day exercising. Regular exercise is very helpful because it gets things moving as well as massages the intestines and results to regular bowel movements.
- Improve Gut Flora – add fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir and or take a probiotic supplement to help support digestion, improve gut, while supporting regular bowel movement.
- Reduce Stress – there are many ways stress can manifest in the body and one of the ways is through constipation. Try practicing gratitude, journaling, meditation; all help so much to reduce stress levels.
- Address Diet – what you eat or don’t eat may cause problems in eliminating properly. So try reducing or eliminating refined carbohydrates, refined sugars, processed foods, dairy, gluten and add in more wholesome foods. This can make a huge difference and contribute to good bowel movements.
For further support, consider joining the Rituwell Community in the 10 Day Foundational Reset. This program will help you shift your habits around food and reframe your mindset with the support of Dr. Jodi and the rest of the community.
By Krisie Stanley