Let's talk about the elephant in the bathroom - Constipation.
Something for you to think about over the weekend….....
Are you constipated?
Or perhaps you can only pass a stool when you are at home?
You don’t pass a stool daily?
The thought of passing a bowel motion leaves you in a cold sweat?
Your bowel motions are hard to pass? Are you having to strain while passing a stool?
There is pain involved?
Do your stools look like little rocks?
Constipation is a really common concern – more than a third of the population suffers from some form of constipation!
Constipation can have really significant consequences, it can lead to:
- Faecal impaction
- SIBO (Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
- Anal fissures
- Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Sleep disturbances
- Psychiatric conditions
- Rectal prolapse
Because of all of these causes, we need to act on constipation (and stop ignoring what's going on) to ensure some stool regularity!
Unsure if you do have constipation?
- Are you passing a bowel motion less than once or twice daily?
- Your stools are hard to pass?
- There is blood in your stools?
- You are straining whilst passing a bowel motion?
- Your bowel motion feels like a complete evacuation
So how are we going to reduce constipation and improve stool frequency and consistency?
First step is to identify the cause as the causes of constipation can be quite varied:
- Particular medication
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Functional defecation disorders
- Neurological conditions
- Behavioural conditions
- Psychiatric conditions
- A lack of water consumption
- Back pain
- A lack of fibre in the diet
Once the cause has been identified, then the treatment can be worked out. However this can be tricky to identify so in the meantime, you can work on your bowel frequency and regularity by:
- Increasing your water consumption - on average about 2L of water daily to support regular stool formation.
- Ensure you are eating enough fibre - fruits and vegetables are a great way to increase fibre so add another veggie or 2 daily.
- Introduce Toilet time into your routine. Go to the bathroom at the same time daily regardless of whether you need to go or not. This time is for you to relax and calm yourself. If nothing happens, that’s ok, just do it again the next day.
- Introduce a stool to your bathroom. A stool for your feet to reposition your body into more of a squatting position can be beneficial for correcting constipation.
- Avoiding foods that your body does not like or that don’t sit well with you.
- Introduce regular exercise. Exercise encourages movement and our digestive system also thrives from movement.
- Avoid laxatives. Laxatives are effective symptomatically however they do not treat the root cause. Long term laxative use causes the body to avoid initiating it’s own stool formation and makes it more difficult to support muscular tone and clearance.
- Look at stress levels. When we are stressed, our muscles can clench making it more challenging to pass a bowel motion.
As a naturopath looking at constipation, I am using a wide range of herbs, nutritional supplements and diet and lifestyle to support bowel motions and regularity.
If this is something you feel may be beneficial, please book a consultation above!