Showing that the entire digestion process is working smoothly, regular bowel movements are the foundation of health. Here’s how to keep your system in shape.
No one wants to talk about or admit to it, but according to the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology approximately one million Canadians a year suffer from constipation. Regularity of bowel movements is individual: One person may experience three a day while another may experience one every three days. At least that’s the view of conventional medicine.
Natural health practitioners believe that the bowel is the foundation of good health and having two or three bowel movements daily is essential in keeping not only the bowel healthy, but also the whole body. Essentially, if your bowel movements occur less frequently than your food intake, you are suffering from constipation.
Bowel movements are essential to a healthy body. Unless we cleanse the system of toxins daily, they enter the bloodstream and harm the body. Constipation slows down food transit time which can lead to putrefaction of the material in the digestive tract.
This “autointoxication” can lead to many health problems that you normally wouldn’t associate with constipation, including arthritis, bad breath, body odour, brain fog, depression, headaches and even obesity. This is why regular elimination is so important!
Lifestyle factors such as poor diet, medications and lack of exercise are major contributors to constipation. Making changes to diet and routine can help, but certain individuals may need help in the form of a herbal supplement. It is important to avoid harsh, purgative laxatives for ongoing use as they can be habit forming over time. Cascara sagrada and senna leaf, while natural, fall into this category. The use of magnesium is an excellent alternative; it hydrates the colon while providing the body with a mineral that many of us are deficient in.
Other steps you can take to address constipation include:
- Drinking plenty of water to keep the bowel well hydrated. This is especially important if you suffer from dry, hard bowel movements (“rabbit pellets”).
- Changing your diet to include more fruits and vegetables that are rich in both water and fibre.
- Enhancing your digestion through the use of digestive enzymes with meals and a daily probiotic supplement.
- Exercising to trigger peristalsis, the wave-like motions that move food through the digestive tract.
Set the goal to have one bowel movement for every meal that you eat and, at the very least, one bowel movement per day. If you’ve tried everything with little to no relief, a consultation with a Naturopath or Holistic Nutritionist would be advised.
Caroline Farquhar, RHN, BA, EMP is a natural digestive care specialist who also specializes in detoxification and internal cleansing. Caroline educates audiences through seminars, TV and radio appearances across the country on the topic of how to achieve better health naturally.