LET'S DETOXIFY: Constipation Begone ~ Getting Back in the Flow
To listen to one of my interviews on Detox-Made-Easy with radio talk show host Valerie Hall, click HERE.
In Ayurvedic and Chinese medical traditions, one of the first things that practitioners want to know is whether a patient is having regular bowel movements, urination, and sweating. This is important because these processes are the body's ways of eliminating toxins. Once toxins have been released into the blood and neutralized by the liver, they must be eliminated safely from the body, otherwise they may become reabsorbed.
The bowel, lungs, kidneys, and skin are our four channels of elimination. Each of these organs ideally should release two pounds of toxins per day. Before I focus more on bowel health, here's some detoxification and rejuvenation info to help you heal your body from head to toe. not available from other foods.
BOWEL HEALTH: The bowel is the body's main elimination organ, yet amongst many Americans and others worldwide today, this central elimination system is compromised, as evidenced by high rates of constipation. The National Institutes of Health estimates that more than 4 million Americans have constipation, defined as having a bowel movement less than three times per week. Yet, when you consider that some experts believe that it is normal for the body to eliminate after each meal (three times a day), the prevalence of constipation may be much higher.
If you would like to listen to my radio interview about Colon Health & Detoxification, please click HERE. And if you are currently constipated and would like more ways to remedy this condition, or if you want to prevent any constipation in the future, below are a number of factors which may help you, many of which are related to our modern diet and lifestyle:
Prevent Constipation the Natural Way
Diets low in fiber: The bulk and soft texture of fiber help prevent hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass. Most Americans eat too few fruits, vegetables and whole grains and too many processed/refined foods from which the fiber has been removed. The average American consumes only 5 to 14 grams of fiber daily, which is far short of the 20 to 35 grams recommended by the American Dietetic Association.
Diets high in dairy, wheat, refined sugars and excessive red meat: These foods can be difficult for the body to digest and promote the formation of a sticky mucus to buffer against irritation. This dense mucus can slow the bowels.
Not enough liquids: Liquids add fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass. Most Americans do not drink the recommended 8 glasses of water per day. Instead, they consume sodas and other caffeinated drinks as well as alcoholic beverages, all of which exacerbate dehydration.
Lack of physical activity: It is unclear precisely why, but long periods of physical inactivity can bring on constipation. Every year, there is a fresh survey that comes out that determines that Americans do not get enough exercise, adding to the constipation epidemic.
Prescription medications: A number of pharmaceutical drugs such as pain medications, antidepressants and blood pressure medicines can cause constipation.
Gut bacteria may also be implicated in constipation. Our guts are populated with billions of intestinal bacteria that serve many functions including aiding in digestion, synthesizing vitamins and serving as the body's first line of immune defense against foreign invaders. The majority of bacteria in the digestive tract are limited to the colon. However, if normal contractions of the bowel (called peristalsis or motility) are impaired and/or acid secretion from the stomach is reduced, colon bacteria may migrate upward and overpopulate the small intestine -- this is known as small intestine bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO. Depending on the type of bacteria that proliferates in the small intestine, constipation may result from SIBO. Bacteria that emit high levels of methane gas are known to cause constipation.
In my workshops and retreats around the United States and worldwide, I am often asked why is chronic constipation the cause of so many problems. This is what I usually say.
Chronic constipation can cause all sorts of health complications, from hemorrhoids to fecal impaction. Many people also experience related symptoms such as headaches and back pain, which accompany the constipation. None of this is pleasant, but from the standpoint of detoxification, constipation is one of the largest barriers to the efficient elimination of accumulated toxins. If stool sits inside the colon too long without being eliminated, the toxins contained within may be circulated back into the blood. Furthermore, stools that are held up from being eliminated may generate even more toxins. The bacteria implicated in constipation emit their own wastes, which must be eliminated. With chronic constipation, good bacteria may die off as harmful bacteria flourishes and their toxins may damage the colon, causing further stagnancy.
Thus, an essential component of any detox program is one that resolves constipation and promotes healthy elimination. While eating high-fiber foods, drinking plenty of water, and participating in regular exercise can go a long way towards these goals, those seeking a deeper level of detox will want to consider colon cleansing as well. Laxatives can help hasten the release of waste matter, but you should be careful not to use chemical, stimulant-type laxatives too often. In the long run, these stimulants can damage the delicate nerve supply to the intestines and end up worsening the condition of constipation. Using stimulant laxatives for a long time can also cause low potassium levels, loss of protein and decrease bowel contractions and natural bowel activity. Instead, one can turn to nature's medicine chest for safe and effective laxatives that cleanse the colon naturally and promote detoxification.
The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.
~ Henry David Thoreau