6 Tips to Solve Constipation Naturally
First, I have to get one thing on the table.
A lot of people do not know they are constipated!
I didn’t know I was constipated till I reached 39 years of age. I was pooping tiny little balls 9 times a day. That’s a very typical definition of constipation.
Some people poop once every 3 days or once every 10 days and think of it as simply more convenient to not be pooping all the time.
Well, you guys gotta know that if that’s how your digestion is working, it’s a big sign of future health problems, and it’s totally fixable.
When you’re constipated, tons of toxins get absorbed back into your system from the stagnant poo that’s hanging out in your colon. This can cause headaches, muscle stiffness, fatigue, sleeplessness, autoimmunity, leaky gut, etc.
It’s serious and needs to be dealt with.
Refer to my blog post, What Does Your Poop Look Like, for more information.
6 Ways to Solve Constipation Naturally
1. Chew your food!!!
Digestion starts in the mouth!
When we put food into the mouth and chew it up, we must make sure that we chew thoroughly, until the food is a mashed-up paste and is no longer recognizable. This usually takes NO LESS than 20 seconds.
You’d be surprised how many of my clients chew for 2-3 seconds, just until the food is small enough to swallow, and then go in for the next bite. Obviously, those people have trouble digesting their food properly. This is a very common and easily remedied cause of constipation.
We have teeth for a reason. It is unfair to give your stomach and small intestines the job that you are meant to do with your teeth.
Take some time for the next week or two while you’re eating to notice how long you’re chewing. Is your food simply small enough to swallow, or is it a mashed-up paste that is ready to digest?
2. Drink plenty of water
The body extracts water from the chyme (chyme is the name for the food we eat as it passes through the digestive tract). If you do not drink enough water, you will end up with very hard, dry stools. The general rule of thumb for sufficient water intake is this:
Take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2.
Drink that many ounces of water per day.
So, for example: If you weigh 140 lbs., you will drink 70 oz. of water per day.
If you’re currently drinking much less than that, you can gradually increase your water intake over a period of 1-2 weeks. Our goal is to make new habits that last, and it’s frequently difficult for people to make big, fast changes and have them stick.
3. Make sure you are getting enough magnesium
Modern farming practices tend to rob the soil of nutrients including minerals like magnesium. So, no matter how many organic veggies you eat (unless you grew them yourself and use sustainable farming practices) you have little chance of getting sufficient magnesium.
Magnesium is important for MANY bodily functions, including peristalsis. Peristalsis is the wavelike motion of the muscles along the digestive tract that push the chyme through the intestines and out the back door.
Magnesium is relaxing to the nervous system and muscles. Without enough magnesium, muscles tend to get stiff, and the muscles involved in peristalsis can’t move in their wavelike motion very well.
Personally, the 2 biggest causes of constipation for me were low thyroid and insufficient magnesium. I’m currently taking a bioidentical thyroid medication every morning and powdered magnesium citrate and pure psyllium husk before bed. For me, this creates “nirvana poo.”
4. Eat Your Fiber
The average American gets less than 20 grams of fiber per day, which is far less than necessary.
We need both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber soaks up water which helps to bulk up the stool, making it a lovely toothbrush for your insides. This is found in things like this psyllium husk powder, nuts and seeds. I use psyllium husk powder each night to bulk up my stool.
Insoluble fiber doesn’t soak up water but does bulk up the stool and help it to move faster down the digestive tract. That’s dark, leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, chard, kale etc.
Sufficient water intake is necessary for fiber to do its job, though!
5. Check Your Thyroid
One of the symptoms of low thyroid is constipation.
Other symptoms include:
Sensitivity to cold/always feeling chilly when others are warm
Difficulty losing weight
Elevated HCL cholesterol
Thinning hair on head/loss of the outer third of eyebrow hair
Brain fog/impaired memory
If you suspect low or overactive thyroid for yourself, or if you’re on a thyroid medication and you feel that you still have symptoms, it’s a good idea to have your thyroid checked by your doctor or, better yet, a naturopath or a functional medicine doctor.
Many general practitioners will see that your thyroid is at the very bottom or top of what’s considered “normal” for your area of the country and tell you that you’re fine.
Naturopaths and functional medicine docs tend to strive for OPTIMAL function, which is different from “normal” or “usual.”
Beware of doctors who only check TSH, or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. This is actually a hormone made by the pituitary gland. It’s not even a thyroid hormone. It’s the hormone that tells your thyroid to make more thyroid hormone. So, if your TSH is high, they assume that your thyroid is low and write a prescription.
In my humble opinion, testing TSH only is just not gathering enough information. It’s 20-year-old medicine, and it’s irresponsible. It’s a good idea to get some actual thyroid hormones tested. I always tell my clients to ask for:
That’s the minimum list of things to check if you suspect anything is not optimal with your thyroid
6. Balance Your Gut Bacteria
You can test your gut bacteria by doing a stool test. The best sort of stool test will test for pathogens like candida and parasites as well as things that are supposed to be in your digestive tract like helpful bacteria. Testing your gut bacteria gives you enough information to know what strains of bacteria may be either low or missing or even overgrown in your gut. With that information, you will know what kinds of probiotics to use to balance your gut!
It will be 3-6 days of stool collection (I know, eeeww!).
Really, I LOVE talking about poop, but getting up close and personal with it is a whole other thing. It’s disgusting. And gross. And nauseating. But so worth it!
Because when you get the results of the test, you know exactly what’s going on in there.
You will know the amount of each type of good bacteria in your gut so you can purchase exactly the right mixture of probiotic species that will balance you out more quickly than if you were guessing what you needed.
More often than not, if a gut bacteria imbalance is contributing to constipation, it’s a result of insufficient Bifidobacteria. Bifidobacteria is the species that helps the chime to move on down the digestive tract and out the back door.
The opposite is also true. A common cause of diarrhea is an overabundance of Bifidobacteria.
But a stool test is always a good idea if you have a Candida overgrowth. Parasites are common with Candida (also a common cause of diarrhea), and most stool tests detect the common ones.
Contact me in the Facebook group if you want me to help you with access to a stool test.
I’ll even help you interpret it!
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