CONSTIPATION IS A CAUSE FOR CONCERN
By Cheryl Wright, RHN, BA
In a study published by The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 27.2% of Canadians self-reported constipation within the past 3 months (Pare,P. 2011). Yet even though they admitted it to a researcher, chances are they didn’t do anything about it. Discussing constipation is not only a taboo subject but many people do not even realize there is something wrong with their bowel movements!
The medical community uses the Rome criteria. It states that functional constipation is when 2 or more of the following symptoms occur in at least 25% of your bowel movements for at least 3 months:
- Lumpy/hard stools
- Sensation of incomplete evacuation
- Manoeuvres are required to facilitate defecation (i.e. support of pelvic floor)
- Less than 3 bowel movements per week.
Many Natural or Holistic Practitionerswill also look at the symptoms above however they consider someone constipated when bowel movements are less than2 or 3 per day. Their belief is that bowel movements should correlate to the number of meals eaten daily. If you are not eliminating proportionately to your meals, then matter will be left in the colon. Infants and animals are a great example of proper elimination; food goes in, waste goes out!
Whether someone is too embarrassed to discuss it or just assumes constipation is normal for them, it is important that they work to improve bowel function. The truth is, constipation can have many damaging effects on the body including:
- Causing pressure in the bowels which can stimulate the growth of cancer cells (Walsh et al., 2004).
- Raising your risk of colon cancer (Wantanabe et al. 2004).
- Causing anxiety, depression, insomnia and sexual dysfunction (Tan et al., 2003).
Research has even shown that women who have 3 daily bowel movements opposed to those with only 1, have a 46% decreased risk of breast cancer (Maruti et al, 2008). That’s a pretty good incentive for getting those bowels moving!
So why are Canadians so constipated? The two most common reasons are dehydration (not drinking enough water) and a highly processed diet lacking in fibre. It may sound strange, but another common cause is some people do not leave themselves enough time to eliminate regularly. How many of us get up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee and head out the door in a rush to work? Sometimes, a slight urge to eliminate will be felt, but that urge is ignored as we are “too busy” to act upon it. Over time, this reduces the natural urge to eliminate and the urges become less frequent.
The solution? The first step is to drink more water and eat a whole food diet with plenty of natural fibre. For those that require extra help, be wary of laxative products and colon cleanses that include purgative ingredients such as cascara sagrada and senna. Purgative herbs can be harsh, habit forming and most importantly do not work at the root of the constipation issue.
Instead look for a product that relieves occasional constipation by promoting bowel movements such as Renew Life’s CleanseMORE. Since the most common cause of constipation is dehydration, CleanseMORE works to hydrate the colon. It includes the mineral magnesium hydroxide which helps to regulate water into the bowel. When the colon is fully hydrated it is able to soften the stool and eliminate without the need for harsh laxatives.
CleanseMORE also helps with peristalsis, the natural muscle contraction of the colon to move waste out. This is important for those whose natural urge to eliminate has been reduced. It includes the following peristaltic herbs; Triphala, an ayurvedic herb traditionally used in India, as well as cape aloe leaf and rhubarb that contain the active ingredient ‘anthraquinone’ which stimulates peristalsis.
CleanseMORE can be used by most people with occasional constipation including those who are trying a new diet, traveling, under stress or eating and drinking more alcohol during holidays. Please note that people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Crohn’s or Colitis should not use CleanseMORE. Also since it is designed for occasional constipation, please speak to a health care practitioner for use longer than 7 days, as it is important to rule out medical reasons for your constipation.
Eating a healthy diet, drinking more water and taking time for regular bowel movements are a start to better bowel health, but when occasional constipation occurs reach for CleanseMORE!