HO-HO-NO! I CAN’T GO!!! HOW THE HOLIDAYS “IMPACTED” YOU
If you are like me, the holidays came and went in a blur from Thanksgiving straight through to my birthday in January. Also, if you are like me, your body responds to this frenzy in unwelcome ways.
With the serving of rich foods that we do not normally eat, eating more or more often than we normally would, and exercising less, compounded with the desire for everything to be the perfect idyllic holiday postcard and the stress that comes along with that…my guess is that your gut is very unhappy with you!
Here, we will talk about one way that the gut responds to the upheaval in your schedule and on your plates: Constipation. That’s right. We’re talking about poop or, rather, the lack of poop.
Let’s define Constipation before we go any further. Constipation is the dysfunction leading to minimum bowel movements or incomplete or malformed bowel movements. Constipation has one or more of the following symptoms: infrequent BMs (less than 1-3 per day), straining to pass stool, or hard pellet-like poops or incomplete pooping.
Hopefully, your constipation is acute and is simply related to the stress of the holidays and all of the unusual foods we eat during that time of year. If your constipation is chronic, it can create conditions that range from annoying to life-threatening, and chronic constipation is evidence of disease in the gastrointestinal tract and perhaps elsewhere. Chronic constipation is a serious condition and should be treated as such.
What controls the transit time of waste moving through the body and coming out the other end?
· Behavior: withholding the bowel movement, snacking between meals, lack of movement or exercise
· Electrolytes: you need a balance in postassium, magnesium, and calcium
· Hydration and Fiber: you must drink a sufficient amount of water and intake fiber (fruits and veggies) to bulk up poop and move it out of the body
· Impaired digestive secretions: insufficient stomach acid, sluggish transit time, aging, or taking PPIs (proton pump inhibitors)
· Microbial Gut Balance and Byproducts: for example, having too much hydrogen or methane in the belly
· Hormones: gastrointestinal, metabolic, sex hormones – Any other ladies have a change in BMs before or during their period?
· Neurotransmitter levels, especially Serotonin: reuptake inhibitor drugs (SSRIs) limit serotonin and create constipation
· Autonomic Nervous System Function: STRESS triggers the fight or flight state and shuts down digestion
All of these things are at play! The body is an amazing system.
So, think back to what you were doing from late-November through early-January. What were you doing (or not doing)? Did you travel? Were you outside of your time zone? Was your routine thrown off? Did you have more commitments to attend? Were you staying up later or getting less sleep? Did you slack off of drinking water? Did you overindulge in foods, desserts, or alcohol? Did you not want to poop at the in-law’s house so you held it?
All of these things would point to situational, acute constipation. Some tips to get the poop out:
· You should be able to get back on track by upping your water intake to one-half of your body weight, so that if you weigh 160 lbs. you should be drinking, at minimum, 80 ounces of water per day. Avoid soft drinks, alcohol, and caffeine. Drink between meals and not during for optimal digestion.
· Do not underestimate the power of exercise for getting the bowels moving. Have you ever had a dog who could only poop on a walk? There you go! You could also do some gentle twisting yoga poses or abdominal massage to “wring out the gut” and get things moving.
· Another thing to try is filling your belly with fiber. Try making a fruit and veggie smoothie. You will get plenty of fiber in an easy and tasty way. Add some ground flaxseed or chia seeds to that smoothie and you will be on the toilet in no time!
· Supplement your diet with some Magnesium citrate or take an Epsom Salt bath.
· Eat 5 Prunes at night before bed and 5 more in the morning. The natural sugar-alcohol (sorbitol) loosens stool.
· Add 3-4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to that smoothie. Healthy fats lubricate stools to make passing them easier.
· Have you heard of the Squatty Potty? Propping your feet on this step as you sit on the toilet puts you in a better position to pass stools without straining. In much of the world, people squat to poop. Sitting on a throne is unnatural to the pooping process. Don’t believe me? Your pets hunch into a squatting position when they poop. Take a cue from them!
· Try stimulant herbal formulas that feature Senna or Cape Aloe.
· Eat smaller, slower meals and RELAX while eating. Anyone with anxiety must ground themselves before they even sit down to eat.
· CHEW your food! Ideally, each bite will be chewed 20-30 times until it is almost liquid. This is the best thing you can do to start digestion with ease.
If you have chronic constipation, please talk with your doctor. Chronic constipation is a symptom of something more serious that needs to be addressed immediately. **Recommendations made in this Blog are just that: Recommendations. They should not be substituted for professional medical advise or diagnosis.**
By Coach Kat, Jan. 17, 2019, copyright Bronwyn Katdaré 2019