Why do I keep getting constipated?
Constipation is often a sensitive subject to talk about. It can be uncomfortable and frustrating.
Constipation is defined as a reduction in the frequency of bowel motions (how often you poo) which are painful, dry and hard to pass. Often laxatives are the only known way to get things moving.
Largely, how often you poop is in your control, which is a good thing! The tricky part is figuring out the underlying cause of your constipation, or sluggish bowels.
Common causes include dehydration, food intolerances, thyroid imbalances, stress and simply not having the space and time to sit down and do a poo.
Have you ever been to Europe or Asia and noticed their toilets are at ground level and require a squat position to poo? Traditionally, before the western toilet was introduced, humans had to squat to go to the toilet. This position straightens out the kink in your bowel allowing for a smooth exit. When we sit down on the toilet however, due to the angle of the hips, this kink is still present, making it more challenging to pass the stool as it’s literally got a hurdle in the way!
So what’s the solution?
The end game here is that you want to get your knees above your hips, smoothing out that kink. A simple way to do that is to grab a small stool and place your feet on it, or if you don’t have a stool, curl your toes under (this will depend on how tall you are as to whether it gets those knees higher on not).
Relax and Make Time:
The body needs space and time to chill out and do what it needs to do. It takes signals from our environment and assesses whether it’s able to pass a stool then and there. For example, if you’re on the train and need to go your body won’t just do a poo then and there, it will hold it in until the next availability. The thing is, this availability doesn’t always come. With our busy hectic routines there’s little space or time to ‘let it go’ and so we can go days not listening to the signal, and without passing a stool.
To combat this, make time at the same time every day to sit on the toilet. This routine will condition the body to ‘let it all go.’ During this time make sure you’re relaxed, a stressed body will only hold on further. Play a game, do a crossword puzzle, read, scroll, whatever takes your mind off the task.
In order to push the stool through the gastrointestinal tract, it needs to be soft and hydrated. A dry and dehydrated stool is harder to pass. Make sure that you are consistently drinking 3-4L each day for adequate hydration.
Fibre comes from fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. It works as a brush for the digestive system and keeps the stool moving along. Make sure that your main meals each contain a serve or two of vegetables, and snack of vegetable sticks and fruit, limiting to 1 piece of fruit per day for weight loss.
Sprinkle salads and stews with seeds like hemp, chia, and flaxseeds.
You can also take 1 tbsp of psyllium husk in a glass of water daily as a good boost. But please ensure you keep your water up throughout the day, as if you are dehydrated and take psyllium husk, it can have the opposite effect!
If you are often bloated, gassy, cramping and/ or experience reflux, you may have a food intolerance. Book here for an individual consultation to assess potential food intolerances and causes for your constipation.
Supplementation and foods:
Slippery elm: ½ -1 tsp of slippery elm in smoothies or water daily.
Psyllium husk: 1 tbsp mixed into a glass of water, followed by drinking another glass of water immediately.
Adults: 2-6 tsp per day mixed in a glass of water and had either in one go or spread out over the course of the day has shown to have a laxative effect
Olive Oil: 1 tsp taken on an empty stomach in the morning may relieve constipation
Please ensure you seek professional and individualistic advice prior to using specific supplementation as indicated in this post.
If you'd like to learn more about how to support your gut health click here