Most people experience constipation at some point in their lives. Constipation is especially common in women and adults over the age of 60. An occasional bout of constipation is no big deal—but when constipation becomes chronic it can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Regular bowel movements are your body’s way of “taking out the garbage.” When we don’t have regular bowel movements, the toxins hanging out in our bowels get reabsorbed into the body, creating extra work for the liver and increasing the overall toxic load of your body. In addition, a constipated bowel is a breeding ground for dysbiosis, or an imbalance between the good and bad microbes in your gut.

​I’ll be talking about toxic load and dysbiosis in future posts, but for now, how do you keep things moving?

Try these simple steps to conquer constipation:

  1. Stay hydrated. Drink half of your body weight in ounces every day. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, drink 90 oz. of water daily. Coffee, tea, soda, and other beverages don’t count. Make sure you consume plenty of electrolytes in the form of fruits and vegetables to make sure your bowels are able to fully absorb water and stay hydrated.
  2. Include vegetables and fruits in your diet. ‘Nuf said!
  3. Eat fiber…but not too much. Fiber helps bulk up stool, making it softer and easier to pass. However, too much fiber can irritate the gut. Increase fiber slowly and be sure to drink extra water with additional fiber.
  4. Add ground flaxseeds or chia seeds. Add 1 tablespoon to a smoothie, sprinkle on top of your morning yogurt, or add to a salad. Make sure you increase your water (yup, I’m saying it again!) when adding flax or chia—add 4-8 oz of water for every 1 T. of flax or chia you eat.

  5. Use Magnesium Citrate. I recommend starting low and slow and ­ increase incrementally until you find your sweet spot. Try taking at night before bed—magnesium is relaxing and will help with sleep. Start with 150-200mg per day, then increase until you have a soft, easy to pass bowel movement the next morning.
  6. Use proper pooping posture. Human anatomy is designed for eliminating in a squatting position. If you are super agile, you can hover over the toilet in a squat, or if you have a bathtub in your bathroom, you can turn sideways and put your feet up on the tub. For less flexible folks, try a toilet stool, such as this one.
  7. Prioritize Pooping. Take time to poop, every day, ideally in the morning. I know days get busy and it’s easy to ignore a “call to nature,” but do yourself a favor and take the time. Make it a positive experience. Grab a good book, practice some deep breathing, or hop on Instagram—give yourself some incentive to take a little “you” time in the potty. No urge to poop in the morning? Try anyway. If your body isn’t used to having time for elimination, it might take a while (days to weeks) for your body to get the message.

  8. Listen to your body. When you feel the urge, or as colon hydro therapist Laura Taylor calls it “a knock at the door”—listen! Stop what you are doing and head to the bathroom, even if it doesn’t feel urgent. Your bowels are worth the care.

​Sometimes a gut is so out of whack that stronger strategies are needed. Work with a functional dietitian or other reputable functional practitioner to correct gut imbalances and get things moving again.

The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a qualified health care practitioner. Please consult with a health care practitioner before making any lifestyle or dietary changes.

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