According to the Mayoclinic signs and symptoms of constipation include:-
Passing fewer than 3 stools a week
Having lumpy or hard stools
Straining to have bowel movements
Feeling as though there is a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements
Feeling as though your can't completely empty the stool from your rectum
Needing help to empty your rectum, such as using your hands to press on your abdomen and using a finger to remove the stool from your rectum
These symptoms are often related to chronic constipation, as a Naturopath I like my patients to have 1 to 2 daily bowel motions, Type 4 (on the Bristol Chart) - a smooth sausage, easy to pass with no straining, not too much smell and not needing to clean the bowl after.
Why is this important?
Your feces is the byproduct of metabolic processes, it is one of the bodies mechanism for excreting waste, build up of toxins, dead bacteria, fats, salts and undigested food.
Ideally you want this moving through your body (intestines) regularly, and the longer it sits there or does not pass these can be reabsorbed back into the body. Have you feeling bloated, heavy and in some instances you may experience headaches.
The Bristol stool chart is a tool that is recognised for grading (or classing) stool types and helps to identify the differences between bowel motions. I will explain in a post at a later date the differences between the different types on a stool chart.
How to ease constipation?
There can be many reasons a person is experiencing constipation, it might be from medication you are taking, food intolerances, changes to diet, hormonal changes, stress or anxiety, dehydration, lack of fiber, a physical condition such as prolapse or bowel obstruction, low levels of beneficial bacteria, dysbiotic bacteria or SIBO (small intestinal bowel overgrowth).
Identifying the cause is important when choosing an appropriate treatment plan however there are a few small changes that we can do that might help prevent constipation:-
Stay adequately hydrated (adult 2-3 litres of water per day)
Include both soluble and insoluble fiber in the diet daily (Whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds)
Make sure to eat 2-3 cups of veggies per day (This does not include white potato or chips)
Movement - exercise regularly (ideally 3-5 hours per week)
Consume a fermented food daily such as yogurt or sauerkraut
If you have mild constipation the following tips may help:-
Iberogast (You can purchase in many pharmacies or from a natural healthcare practitioner - suitable also for infants)
Probiotics - specific strains are helpful for constipation
Peppermint oil (in carrier oil massaged onto the tummy in a clockwise direction)
Aloe vera juice
Supplements (for dosage amounts you will need to book in for a consultation)
Herbs such as licorice, marshmallow, slippery elm, cascara, burdock, St Marys thistle, globe Artichoke, St Johns Wort (again dosages and which ones you would need to book in for a consultation)
If you find yourself frequently constipated, bloated and gassy and would like to make some changes working with a qualified naturopath or nutritionist like myself can help you identify the underlying reasons and work with you to modify your diet accordingly and prescribe the appropriate treatment plan to have you opening your bowels regularly and easily before you know it!
To book a consultation or enquire further:
Lauren Stark Naturopathy & Nutrition are available for consultations - Thursday evenings (5-7pm), Friday (8-3pm), Saturday (7:30-1pm)