Constipation is a pain in the..... well, you know. Nearly 27% of the population with 40% of those being American, are negatively affected by it. While chronic constipation is more prevalent today than it ever was, it is still often dismissed as nothing serious. However, with upwards of 21 million people being hospitalized with digestive diseases every year and almost 250,000 of those people dying, it safe to say constipation is deadly problem. Because constipation slows the body's most important function -- digestion, as well as the process of elimination, it lays the groundwork for disease slowly and methodically.
Constipation is a slowing or stopping of peristalsis in the digestive tract due to inflammation, or in severe cases atrophy in those addicted to laxatives. It is important to recognize constipation as a symptom, not a disease -- a symptom caused by improper diet, poor gut health and opioid use.
Generally to enjoy good health digestion must be swift, efficient and putrefaction of food in the gut must be avoided. With more of the human population adopting a processed food habit (and obsessing over getting their fiber from processed foods like bread, cereal and cereal bars) symptoms of chronic constipation will not be disappearing anytime soon.
Thankfully, there are easy ways to combat constipation gently and naturally by adapting these easy daily habits:
- Drink fresh lemon juice in warm water with one teaspoon of raw organic honey first thing in the morning, every morning. Fresh lemon, as well as raw organic honey is alkaline in the body. While the lemon is soothing to the digestive tract and cleansing to the liver, the honey is antibacterial and provides the liver with much needed glucose. Additionally, lemon water first thing in the morning helps to complete your body's nightly eliminative work, by gently lubricating the intestinal tract, producing a bowel movement.
- Eat three fruits for breakfast every day (and add some papaya.) Fruit for breakfast is the best way to get an assimilative source of vitamins, minerals and fiber everyday. It is also a sure fire way to have an effortless bowel movement. Ripened banana, berries, red apples, grapes, oranges -- are all excellent fast foods to enjoy for breakfast. Papaya is particularly nourishing, high in fiber and extremely soothing to the intestinal tract.
- Swap out animal protein for plant-based protein - If you are eating high amounts of animal protein, you may (unknowingly) be creating digestive stress. Besides creating a sluggish liver, insulin resistance and stressing the kidneys, eating high amounts of animal protein slows digestion. The energy spent on digesting animal protein versus plant protein enervates the body and plays a huge part in delaying transit time from mouth-to-out. Additionally animal protein may take hours, or days to reach the colon and since it's already intrinsically acid, it creates more acidity when undigested. To start, a plant-based diet is more alkaline, working with the body's processes instead of against them. Plant-based foods high in magnesium are particularly beneficial in ending constipation. These can be found in beans and nuts and green leafy vegetables.
- Avoid starch, dairy and wheat. If you suffer from IBS-C and you are chronically constipated, starch, dairy and wheat are not your friends. Starch in any form (particularly in potatoes, white rice, and unripened bananas) will slow digestive flow by the added step of the body having to convert starch to sugar. Dairy on the other hand, (think milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream) cause of constipation in those who are intolerant to it, particularly in babies. Dairy is not only mucous-forming, it's acidic and inflammatory in the body. Wheat products such as pasta and cereals are bloating, slow to move through the digestive tract and are also acid-forming. Wheat is also astoundingly low in dietary fiber as compared to fresh vegetables and fruit.
- Abdominal Massage is a gentle and relaxing way to self-stimulate your digestive tract to get moving. Just five minutes of abdominal massage daily is believed to nudge activity in the digestive process bringing relief.
Avoid frequent laxative use. Chronic use of laxatives can cause dependence and may stop peristaltic activity permanently. Get fiber from fruit and vegetables instead of from processed foods. Ensure fruit for breakfast becomes daily life-long habit. By implementing these new and healthy daily habits you can put constipation behind you! (Pardon the pun.)