Join Basmati.com every week for a Q&A session with one of Basmati’s practitioners, Melissa Hill (FDN-P)! We know that there is a lot of confusing information out there, which can make applying health advice overwhelming. Sometimes, it’s best to ask a practitioner directly, so each week we’ll cover a common health question!
Do you have a health question you’d like to ask? Write to us at editors [at] basmati [dot] com () and your question could be chosen and featured in a future column!
Q. What can I do to relieve constipation?
A. Constipation, or the irregularity of bowel movements, is a common problem. Ideally, you should have one to three bowel movements each day. Bowel movements reveal more about your health than you might think. When constipation is occurring, other symptoms are manifesting as well, such as fatigue, brain fog, and aches and pains elsewhere in the body, including chronic headaches. When a person doesn’t eliminate fully and daily, the body is in a toxic state!
Both frequency and consistency of bowel movements are indicators of your health. Slick slides or oily residue means that you are not effectively absorbing dietary fats. Straining or “rabbit pellets” is indicative of constipation with stool sitting in the intestines much longer than it should; it usually means a deficiency in fiber. Floating feces can be the result of excessive gas production from an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your intestines. Moreover, improper emptying of bowels can make you feel miserable. Here are some strategies to improve your daily bowel movements:
- Increase fiber intake
This is one of the most important things that you can do to regulate your bowels. Dietary intake of fiber helps to increase stool frequency, moving things along and preventing or relieving constipation. Gradually increase your consumption up to 50 grams of fiber a day, and drink plenty of water.
High-fiber foods include legumes, avocados, seeds, nuts, and oats. Meeting your daily requirement by food alone can be challenging; you can consider a professionally formulated powder supplement fiber-blend.
- Drink plenty of water
Many studies have shown that mild dehydration can lead to constipation. Constipation may be a sign that your body needs more water, so proper hydration can also help with regularity. Sufficient water intake can make your elimination easier and softer.
- Try to eat more get-moving fruits
There are many fruits that can aid in bowel health. Prunes are a popular choice for their high fiber content. Prunes can help prevent and relieve constipation. Throw two or three in your shake or soak them over night and drink the water in the morning.
- More magnesium
Many studies have shown that low levels of dietary magnesium, when combined with insufficient hydration, can contribute to constipation. Magnesium works well with several vitamins that can help support regular and optimal bowel movements. Start with 300 milligrams of magnesium. You can gradually move up to 1,000 milligrams a day, if needed, for acute cases.
Supplementing with other things such as vitamin C can get things moving. Try increasing amounts of vitamin C in the morning to stimulate your bowels. Typical doses range from 2,000mg to 4,000mg to produce a bowel movement.
The right balance of ‘good bacteria’ in your intestines is a major factor in your digestive health and functioning. The ability to digest your food properly is the first step to properly formed and regular stools.
Aloe has long been used to lubricate the intestinal lining, reducing inflammation and allowing stools to be moved out with ease. Aloe vera juice can be used short term to improve your ability to eliminate waste, aiding in detoxification of the colon.
These tips will help in regulating and softening your bowel movements. If your elimination becomes runny, back off a bit; it just means your body is still working to absorb all the nutrients and increased water.
If your constipation is a chronic thing, consider talking with a health practitioner to look into the underlying cause. Common culprits that can be investigated with testing: ongoing food sensitivities using an IgG food sensitivities test; stool testing for bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections; or, hydrogen breath test for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth(SIBO).