Hello, everyone! It’s Dr. Bob with Lowcountry Chiropractic. I hope all of you are doing well! This blog’s topic is particularly rousing and I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for this post. Today, we’re talking about: constipation. Yes, that’s right! Today, we’ll discuss how you can manage constipation, which can be an uncomfortable and persistent condition. Constipation can affect anyone. About 4 million Americans complain of frequent constipation, making it the most common digestive complaint over any other chronic digestive conditions. However, constipation is 3 times more common in women than in men, 1.3 times more common in nonwhites, and much more likely to occur in anyone over the age of 65. That said, mild constipation can negatively impact your quality of life, while severe constipation can result in a costly trip to the emergency room. I want to save you the trouble and discomfort, which is why today’s post is dedicated to natural methods of relieving constipation.
Now, most individuals struggling with constipation aren’t even aware they have the condition. That’s because they are unaware of how often they should be having bowel movements on a daily basis. Once? Twice? Three times? Well, everyone is different. Some people will have bowel movements more frequently than others. However, a general rule of thumb is this: If you’re eating three meals a day, you should be performing two or three bowel movements a day. At the very least, one bowel movement per day is necessary for optimal health. If you find yourself struggling to have a singular bowel movement, or even going days without having a bowel movement, this is a strong indicator you’re dealing with constipation. However, since everyone’s body is different, it’s important to understand how your body operates. If you generally have a bowel movement twice per day, at around the same time, a sudden change in this schedule should tip you off. Or, if you have bowel movements thrice per week and this has been the case for a majority of your life, you’re probably not constipated. Therefore, the consistency of one’s bowel movement is more often used as a gauge of one’s health than one’s frequency.
If you have fewer than three bowel movements per week, your stool is dry and hard, or your bowel movements are painful, these might be further indicators you’re struggling with constipation.
When you eat, part of the digestive process begins while the food is still in your mouth, as enzymes in your saliva begin to break down what you’re eating. The majority of the digestive process, however, takes place in your stomach, small intestine and large intestine. Enzymes and acids there extract nutrients from what you’ve eaten and deliver those nutrients into your bloodstream. The small intestine, which is generally twenty-feet long and one inch in diameter, continues the digestion process. Then, the large intestine (or colon), which is generally five feet long and three inches in diameter, wrings the remainder of nutrients still left in the food out.
The intestines are both organs and muscles. In order to move the food along these lengthy channels, they must perform a movement called peristalsis. Peristalsis is “an involuntary constriction and relaxation of the muscles of the intestine, creating wave-like movements that push the contents of the canal forward.” When these muscles are working properly, leftover remnants from digested food are spirited along the digestive tract without issue or delay. However, when these muscles refuse to work or are slow to do their job, people end up with what’s called “lazy bowel syndrome” or sluggish bowel or slow gut.
The major concern regarding constipation is the retention of certain toxins created during the digestive process. When leftover food materials remain in the digestive tract for long periods, these toxins can be reabsorbed into the body and cause many problems. You may experience nausea and bloating. Excess hormones are often excreted in our stool and, with the reabsorption of these hormones, you could become estrogen-dominant, which is related to weight gain. Retained fecal matter also impacts the intestinal flora, which can leave your bowels open to opportunistic cancers, diseases, and infections.
Sluggish bowels can occur due to a lack of fiber in one’s diet or even because of an overuse of laxatives. That’s the frightening truth: using laxatives to cure constipation can actually lead to more constipation. That’s why I want to equip you with alternatives which will hit at the root of the problem and help you achieve a healthier bowel.
One of the easiest ways to improve the health of your gut is to increase your fiber intake. I recommend each of my patients take fiber on a regular basis (i.e. once a day). You can invest in psyllium powder, a fiber supplement which comes in both pill and loose powder form. Why not just incorporate more fiber-rich foods into your diet? Well, I recommend that as well, but most of us will inevitably fail to do so on a consistent basis. Investing in a supplement will ensure our bodies are receiving the necessary amount of fiber every single day.
That said, a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber is crucial to maintaining not just a healthy bowel, but a healthy body. To further combat constipation, you should make sure to incorporate whole grains (such as whole wheat bread, pasta, oatmeal, and bran flake cereals), legumes (i.e. lentils, beans, soybeans, and chickpeas), an assortment of fruits (i.e. berries, apples with the skin left on, bananas, and pears), vegetables (i.e. carrots, broccoli, dark leafy greens) and nuts (i.e. almonds, pecans, and nut butters). In addition to a plentiful diet, you need to make sure you’re drinking enough water. It’s easy to forget when our day-to-day schedules become hectic, but dehydration is sure to make existing constipation worse. Drinking plenty of water softens the stool, making its passage through the digestive tract easier. The average person should drink at least half of their body weight in ounces of water every day. For example, a two-hundred pound man should consume at least one-hundred ounces of water every day.
Another product which can be ingested to help relieve constipation is aloe vera gel. This gel softens the food material being digested and coats the inner lining of the intestinal tract, thus helping to facilitate a smoother journey. If your intestines are inflamed or damaged and this is what’s causing your constipation, aloe vera gel will help to calm down an irritated bowel.
Many aren’t aware chiropractic care can play a huge role in relieving constipation! There are sixty-two nerves emanating from the spine which affect or control organ, gland, and cell processes. A handful of these nerves are responsible for connecting your brain to your large and small intestines. The signals which control peristalsis (the movement of the bowel) are being sent by the brain. If there are any places where those nerves are compressed, the signal from the brain is being impeded. Therefore, the intestine cannot operate as needed. Compression, or subluxations, can be caused by a traumatic incident, a fall, or even sleeping wrong. With chiropractic care, these subluxations can be resolved, thus freeing up those nerves to perform their regular functions. All of the body’s processes are connected and, with chiropractic care, you can expect multiple issues (which may seem unrelated) to be improved.
There are plenty of medications available on the market which promise to treat constipation, but many of these medications only loosen the bowel muscles. They do not target the root cause of constipation and, as mentioned earlier, they can actually make constipation worse down the line. Additionally, many constipation medications come with side effects. For example, with many laxatives, you can expect bloating, gas, cramping, and nausea to accompany their intended use. There are natural means to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with constipation and I hope you’ll try those mentioned above.
If you’re currently experiencing persistent constipation and are unsure what to do, go ahead and try these natural remedies. No one should have to suffer with the fatigue and irritability which constipation is liable to cause. Reclaim your bowels and your life. The sooner the better! We here at Lowcountry Chiropractic are here to help. Send us a quick email or phone call. I’ll perform a thorough analysis of your situation and investigate whether a subluxation is the cause of your constipation. I hope this information was helpful to you! I look forward to seeing you and remember: I’m Dr. Bob and I have your back covered!
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