By Caroline Farquhar
Constipation: no one wants to talk about or admit to it but according to the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology approximately one million Canadians a year suffer from constipation.
According to conventional medicine, regularity of bowel movements is individual: one person may experience three a day while another may experience one every three days. Natural health practitioners believe that the bowel is the foundation of good health and having 2-3 bowel movements daily is essential in keeping not only the bowel, but also the whole body healthy. Essentially, if your bowel movements occur less frequently than your food intake, you are suffering from constipation.
Healthy bowel movements are essential to a healthy body. Unless we cleanse the system of toxins daily, they enter the blood stream and harm the body. Constipation slows down food transit time which can lead to putrefaction of the material in the digestive tract. This “autointoxication” can lead to many health problems that you normally wouldn’t associate with constipation such as arthritis, bad breath, body odor, brain fog, depression, headaches and even obesity. This is why regular elimination is so important!
Lifestyle factors such as poor diet, medications and lack of exercise are major contributors to constipation. Making changes to diet and routine can help but certain individuals may need help in the form of an herbal supplement. It is important to avoid harsh, purgative laxatives for ongoing use as they can be habit forming over time. Cascara sagrada and senna leaf, while natural, fall into this category. The use of magnesium is an excellent alternative by hydrating the colon while providing the body with a mineral that many of us are deficient in. CleanseMORE by Renew Life contains magnesium hydroxide to help draw water into the bowel and gentle herbs to stimulate peristalsis, the body’s natural action of pushing contents out of the colon. While these herbs (cape aloe, rhubarb and Triphala) do have a peristaltic action, they are not going to create dependence.
Fibre is also a very important consideration in the battle against constipation. The type of fibre might be just as important as the amount you are getting daily. Fibre like psyllium husk (which many doctors recommend in the form of Metamucil) can be very dehydrating to the bowel making the problem much worse. A better alternative is a flaxseed-based fibre. FibreSMART by Renew Life is much more than just fibre, it is a digestive health formula. Delivering a 50/50 blend of soluble and insoluble fibre, it is the perfect choice for those suffering from constipation. It also contains healing ingredients such as l-glutamine and n-acetyl-glucosamine to help soothe and repair the gut lining.
Other steps you can take to address constipation include:
• Drinking plenty of water to keep the bowel well hydrated. This is especially important if you suffer from dry, hard bowel movements (“rabbit pellets”).
• Changing your diet to include more fruits and vegetables that are both rich in water and fibre.
• Enhancing your digestion through the use of digestive enzymes with meals and a daily probiotic supplement.
• Exercising which triggers peristalsis (the wave-like motions that move food through the digestive tract).
Set the goal to have one bowel movement for every meal that you eat and at the very least, one bowel movement per day. If you’ve tried everything with little to no relief, a consultation with a Naturopath or Holistic Nutritionist would be advised.
Caroline Farquhar, RHN, BA, EMP is a natural digestive care specialist who also specializes in detoxification and internal cleansing. Caroline has been educating audiences through seminars, TV and radio appearances across the country on the topic of how to achieve better health naturally.