What To Do If You’re Struggling With Constipation?
We’ll look at constipation first. I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to get into a healthy routine with the bowel if you want to have a regular daily bowel movement. If you’re moving your bowel less than three to four times a week, I would definitely consider colonic hydrotherapy. Colonic hydrotherapy, also known as irrigation, is one of the best, if not the best, treatment for constipation. You will require weekly treatment, and your therapist will then be able to advise roughly how many sessions you will need after the initial three treatments.
What’s vitally important, whether or not you embark on colonic hydrotherapy, is ensuring you give yourself enough time in the morning to have a bowel movement. All too often, we get up late or have a zillion things to do and head straight into ‘fight or flight’, which essentially shuts the bowel down.
You see, the body hasn’t caught up with evolution. It doesn’t know there’s no sabre tooth tiger to escape from. That the stress you’re experiencing is just ‘normal’ everyday 21st-century stress. When you’re in ‘fight or flight’, you’ve switched on your sympathetic nervous system, which means your parasympathetic nervous system, aka ‘rest and digest’, has switched off. Guess which nervous system needs to be engaged to have a bowel movement. You’ve guessed it! ‘Rest and digest’.
Have a think. Does your alarm go off, leaving you 20 minutes to get a quick shower, get dressed, grab a drink and fly out the door? This, unfortunately, does not lend to the bowel opening in the morning.
Abdominal Massage Every Morning
Here’s what you need to do if you’re not opening in the morning. Set your alarm a little earlier to give yourself some time before you head off to work. Start by massaging your abdomen in a clockwise direction twenty times and then massage down the left-hand side 5 times to finish. You need to press on and get some weight behind it, don’t be shy. There’s waste stuck in there that needs manually moving to get it into the sigmoid colon and rectum. Once in the right location, when food enters, there should be a signal between the brain and the gut that says, ‘anything in the lower part of the colon needs to exit’. That way, we don’t end up storing up toxicity. If you’re really sluggish and have really slow transit time without the massage, your waste could be all the way up in the transversal colon. So even when you get your brain/gut connection working again, if there’s nothing there to release, you’ll still remain constipated. So it’s crucial to get in the habit each morning of performing an abdominal massage.
Next, have a pint of hot water with half a lemon freshly squeezed. You can also juice or squeeze lemons into an ice-cube tray and pop a cube into hot water in the morning to save yourself some time. If you can stomach food in the morning, eat some overnight oats with a tablespoon of linseeds, a few prunes or apricots chopped up, and some plant-based milk and yoghurt to make a shake. You can add in other nuts and seeds and eat with berries in the morning for added antioxidants. Just be sure to soak it all overnight.
After you’ve had breakfast or your hot water, if you’re not having breakfast, sit on the toilet with your feet up on a squatty potty or, even better, crouch on the floor until you feel the urgency to open your bowel. The latter is a much better position to be in and will encourage your bowel to open. I used to crouch with my back to the radiator whilst putting on my makeup. This really worked for me. I loved the heat from the radiator which had the knock on effect of helping me relax, as did putting on my makeup. Triple whammy! We need to be relaxed for our bowel to open. This needs to form part of your daily routine if you want to have a regular daily bowel movement. Also, make sure you’re eating plenty of roughage, veggies and some fruits, lentils and beans. Start slow if you’re not used to eating beans and pulses, as they can be very gas-producing until you build up the bacteria necessary to digest them.
If this doesn’t work, and you’ve ruled out issues with pancreatic enzymes or bile. SIBO, yeast, bacteria and parasite infections, which we’ll come onto a little later. It could be a structural issue, such as adhesion’s, fibroid’s or prolapses. A scan would be needed to rule these out.
If loose stools or diarrhea is a problem, and you’ve ruled out excessive bile flow, as well as issues with pancreatic enzymes. Next will be ruling out SIBO, as elevations in hydrogen gases can cause diarrhea. Certain common parasites can also cause diarrhea. Often my clients report experiencing episodes of diarrhea many years after they had food poisoning. In these circumstances, we generally find there are still parasites present.
Food sensitivities can also be the cause of diarrhea, or urgency. You may experience this straight after eating certain foods. Cow’s milk is a common trigger. This may be due to a deficiency in lactase, the digestive enzyme needed to break down the lactose in milk. In which case a lactose free milk would resolve the issue. It could be a reaction to casein, the protein present in milk. Or it could be an allergy or sensitivity to actual cow’s milk. In this instance a plant based milk alternative would be your best bet. You could try cutting cows milk out for 2 weeks to see if your diarrhea improves. If you feel there are other foods in your diet that trigger urgency or diarrhea try cutting these too. I’d recommend just cutting out one at a time.
Fibre can be problematic as it can’t be digested and so creates an osmotic effect, drawing water into the bowel. However we have two different types of fibre. Insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fibre can be a trigger for diarrhea, as it doesn’t absorb water and speeds up transit time. If you’re experiencing diarrhea you want to avoid insoluble fibre until the cause of your diarrhea has been discovered and corrected. Try cutting out nuts and seeds, peel skins of vegetables and fruits and avoid grains.
Soluble fibre on the other hand can be helpful as it absorbs water and helps to bulk out the stool, thereby reducing transit time. Try eating fruits without the skins on, unripe bananas and oats.
You may also like to try taking Saccharomyces Boulardii three times a day as this beneficial yeast has extensive research and has been proven to be effective in cases of diarrhea.
If you are really struggling and need an expert to help you address your health issue, Inner Health Clinic – Transform Your Gut can help you. The clinic offers constipation treatment and has Ruth Tansey, a Nutritional Therapist registered with BANT, that can help you. You can visit the clinic in Stockport, Manchester or call 07712 620909 for an appointment.