Let’s talk about constipation.
It’s not the most glamorous conversation. This is one of the reasons I want to talk about it - not enough people do! Not enough people are talking about their bowel movements and how often they’re happening.
Infrequent bowel movements are not normal - even if it’s been “your normal” for your whole life.
According to Western medicine, constipation is defined as three or fewer bowel movements per week.
According to me, constipation is defined as fewer than one bowel movement per day. My definition also takes into account the type of bowel movement that you are having - is it difficult to pass, are you straining, is it hard & in pieces? If you answered yes to any of these things there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Short answer - a lot of things cause constipation. A lot of these things can be lumped into larger categories though, so let’s start there.
Constipation can be caused by:
Lifestyle - low water intake, a diet low in fibre but high in processed foods & sugar, lack of movement
Medications - iron supplements, antacids, opioids, antihistamines, NSAIDs
Medical conditions - depression, hypothyroidism, diabetes, pelvic floor dysfunction, SIBO, leaky gut, low stomach acid
Because without regular bowel movements your body is not able to eliminate toxins! Instead these circulate through your body and eventually cause illness. We are exposed to thousands of toxins every day and stool is one of the MAJOR paths of elimination.
You should also care about constipation because:
If you’re constipated you’re likely also experiencing bloating, abdominal pain & brain fog - fixing your constipation is the key to fixing those other pesky symptoms.
If you’re constipated it means something in your body is out of balance - the longer things stay out of balance the harder they are to fix and the chance that it will develop into something more serious increases.
Chronic constipation increases your risk of colorectal cancer.
Having a good bowel movement is very satisfying.
This is a big question and the answer depends on the root cause of your constipation. That being said there are a few things that I always try first.
Drink more water. If you’re not drinking at least 2 litres of water every day, start now.
Eat more fibre foods. You should be getting at least 30g of fibre from your meals & snacks every day. One of my favourite ways to track this is with the app Cronometer.
Move your body. Moving your body daily encourages movement in your intestines as well - especially light movement after meals.
Check your eating habits. Chew slowly & thoroughly, eat without distractions, wait at least 3h between food & aim for a 12h overnight fast.
If you want even more tips I talk about dealing with constipation & travel in this VIDEO.