Constipation is probably not a topic of conversation most people feel comfortable engaging in. However, it is something almost everyone will experience at least once. What technically is constipation? It can be a couple of things. It can be long periods of time without having a bowel movement, or it can be qualified as having a hard time passing (straining to have) a movement, even if it’s daily. Ok, the movement is poop, can I just call it poop?
There are multiple reasons that people can find themselves in this predicament. Here are several:
- Sluggish Liver
- Gastrointestinal issues (very general category that can be food sensitivities to dysbiosis)
- Low Fiber Intake
- Lack of Exercise
- Change in Routine
- Thyroid Issues
Let’s start with the simple fixes first. Dehydration and low fiber are the easiest to rectify. How you ask? Drink more water, much more water. Decrease the sugar and caffeine drinks. Did you know that for each cup of caffeine intake you need to add another glass of water to make up for it in your day? Fiber is a matter of food choices. Fruits, veggies, and legumes are a wonderful source of fiber. Eating highly processed foods robs us of fiber as well as makes us full so when we do have the opportunity to have more fiber we just don’t feel like it.
So if we look at taking out the sugar and the processed foods in order to get more of what we need then we also create a domino effect on how our body functions. If you go back to the list and see sluggish liver, thyroid issues, and GI issues many of those can be rectified by this dietary change. When you aren’t putting crap into your body (that’s what it is and that is why it is stuck inside) your organs have a chance to actually do their job. The liver can clean up the things it needs to without getting backed up, and the same goes for the intestines. Thyroid also, when you are providing correct nutrients to your body that it can utilize for the purposes and functions that it needs you are less likely to experience negative impact on the fluctuations of hormones that throw those things off.
Lack of Exercise is also a fairly simple fix. Maybe not easy for some people, yet simple if you can make the time and effort to fit it in. It isn’t about running 3 miles a day, it’s about movement. Can you fit in 5-8 minutes of movement at time? Walking in place, jumping jacks, perhaps doing a few squats at your office chair. Your intestines function on an automatic muscular movement called peristalsis. It needs help though, it needs your body to move in order to (in Chinese Medicine terms) move the qi. Just like a cart will travel much more smoothly going downhill, your body functions much more fluidly with movement.
How about change in routine? I equate that much with emotions, so let’s talk about those things together. Change in routine or travel is sometimes challenging for people, and the key word to why is “change”. Many people are extremely comfortable with routine and getting out of it and having do something new can be a little bit frightening. Perhaps that is not a word you would choose to label those feelings with. However, take a moment to think about it. If you are someone who experiences the discomfort of constipation when you change your routine, maybe even something as simple as staying a family member’s house overnight, why does that create discomfort in you?
Emotions are wonderful thing. When you can experience emotions and let them flow without having to react to each and every one in the moment they arise they are beneficial. Some people know what it is like to “stuff” emotions. Where they don’t really want to feel or express them so they just contain them inside and ignore them. In Chinese Medicine this affects how our stomach, spleen, and small intestine in particular function. Those organs are partially responsible for digesting emotions. Literally taking them and processing them in the body and letting them go. If we don’t mentally or emotionally process the emotions we encounter on a daily basis they affect the function of the organ systems. Therefore, if we don’t want to experience something or ignore it we stop the organs from free flowing and functioning properly, in enters constipation. The plugging and stopping of anything coming out in a simple and easy movement. Emotions, feel them, express them, don’t let them take you over, but let them flow through you and guide you as they were meant to.
Constipation can have much deeper roots that stem from dysbiosis or gut dysfunction. If you are suffering from this symptom and have tried some or all of these things without relief you need to talk to a naturopath, functional medicine doctor, acupuncturist, or another health care professional that can help you sort through your needs.
Happy eating, happy healing, happy movement in all areas of your life.