I am going to address a common problem that I find myself discussing with clients more and more. They often find it embarrassing to talk about, but it is important to discuss, as it is generally a symptom of a larger digestive issue. The good news is that constipation is easily addressable and I have developed effective strategies to deal with over my many years in practice. What I have found is that constipation means something different to nearly everyone… to one client, it may mean not having a bowel movement (BM) more than 1-2x/week… to others it may mean only having a BM once per day. I have heard it all after nearly 20 years working as a nurse and NP. Regardless, these are my best tips for addressing constipation.
First, though, a discussion of the causes of constipation, which include:
- Not enough fiber in the diet, especially if they consume a Standard American Diet (SAD), which includes significant portion of processed foods
- Not enough water and too much caffeine, which creates more dehydration
- Deficiency in pancreatic enzymes
- Need for bile salts
- Undiagnosed or addressed food sensitivities-including gluten and dairy
- Low thyroid function
- Lack of physical activity
- Certain medications slow your gut motility (e.g.-pain medications, some anti-depressants, etc.)
- Stress…that’s right, some people are too stressed to allow themselves to relax and GO!
How do we address this?
- Comprehensive evaluation of the diet, including processed foods, sugars, etc. and targeted dietary recommendations
- Eat more fiber dense foods… especially apples, figs, prunes, cruciferous veggies (broccoli, brussels sprouts), beans
- Increase water consumption to ½ your body weight in ounces (max of 100 ounces/daily)
- Support with Hydrochloric acid (HCL), biliary support and digestive enzymes
- Use food sensitivity testing to help determine foods that may be contributing to symptoms and constipation
- Refer for thyroid labs to see if this is contributory
- Increase intake of bile supportive foods like beets, sauerkraut and artichokes
- In some instances, magnesium (must be the right formulation) can help gently move the bowels without concern for tolerance or occasional use of Smooth Move Tea (contains Senna, so not something to use every day)
- Add probiotics, including probiotic rich foods (kefir, Kombucha, fermented veggies) into your diet daily
- Some kind of regular physical activity… every single day! It doesn’t have to be a lengthy class or something complicated, as even walking is very beneficial
What if I want to learn more?
Ask away, I am here to help!