Most people that know me, know that I don’t shy away from talking about poop! I think the gut is a fascinating organ and your poop is a window into the health status of your gut . The frequency, consistency, colour, shape, smell and size of your poop can all be indicators of what’s going on in there.
If you go to the toilet less than 1-3 times a day then you are constipated. I used to go to the toilet 1-2 times a week! I knew that wasn’t necessarily normal for everyone but it was normal for me. What I didn’t realise then, which I know now, is how detrimental that was for my overall health.
Your liver detoxifies your body – it breaks down substances like metabolic waste, drugs and chemicals, so that they can be excreted. Your liver dumps the waste products into your gut in hopes that you will excrete it through your stool. If you aren’t going to the toilet, however, your stool, along with those waste products will sit within your gut for too long.
The longest I went without a bowel movement was 2 weeks and least to say, it made me feel pretty shitty. The symptoms I experienced as a result of chronic constipation included fatigue, nausea, lack of appetite, abdominal pain and bloating, skin outbreaks – both psoriasis and acne, brain fog and low mood.
I think the factors that contributed to the constipation I experienced included:
- Lack of fibre. Fibre is extremely important when it comes to healthy poops. Fibre is the binding substance that gives poop its form and helps it to move through the digestive tract.
- Fibre absorbs water as it passes through the gut, without sufficient water your stool will be too dry, water lubricates your stool, allowing it to pass along the gut with ease. A high amount of fibre without enough water can actually result in even more constipation.
- Chronic psychological stress. To go to the toilet you need to be relaxed, in ‘rest and digest’ mode and not ‘fight or flight’. Psychological stresses have a marked impact on intestinal motility. The more stressed and anxious you feel the more tense and constricted your gut will become. The normal muscle contractions and relaxations of the muscles that line our gut results in a wave like movement, gently pushing your stool along. This is called peristalsis, it cannot happen efficiently in a stressed, tense, gut.
- Ignoring the urge to defecate. Since childhood, if I didn’t feel comfortable pooping in certain places, I wouldn’t. This can cause the stool to dry and become harder to pass. Over time this behaviour can result in change to the shape of the colon and can even cause damage to the nerves and muscles around the anus so you no longer register the signal to poop.
If you suffer with constipation try implementing some of these habits:
- Eat more fibre – excellent sources include veg and chia seeds, I try to have 2 portions of veg with every meal.
- Drink more water – aim for 2-4L a day depending on your size.
- Use deep breathing techniques before eating to relax and promote digestion.
- Meditate to reduce overall stress.
- Get enough sleep, aim for a minimum of 7 hours a night.
- Don’t hold it in! If you need to go, go. Everyone does it, so don’t be embarrassed.
- Don’t worry if you haven’t been yet today – it’s a vicious cycle, worrying about not pooping, getting stressed out, this stress decreasing bowel motility. Trust that your body will go sooner rather than later.
- Eat slowly.
- Drink green tea.
- Use a poop stool – sitting in a squatting position helps open up your colon and let things pass more easily.
- Take magnesium – natures tranquiliser.
Since implementing the above daily habits, I am happy to say that on average, I now enjoy going to the toilet 1-2 times a day!
If like me, you have a tendency to constipate let me know if this blog past has been helpful. If you have any constipation hacks that have worked for you please share them!