I'm about to break it down for you here, but first, let's talk about WHY it is important to have a good poop!
Here's the deal: Your body is a machine, and your machine should be running smoothly and efficiently. When it is not, just like a car sputtering along, your body begins to feel pretty darn crappy (pun intended).
Bowel movements are a natural part of your body releasing toxins and waste. When you don't release the toxins from your body you get "backed up" and this can lead to headaches, bloating, pain, and even nausea. My biggest concern is that when constipated, your colon gets compacted. This compaction may interrupt the function of the bacteria that is housed in your colon. There are trillions of bacteria in your colon that protect your gut and produce vitamins, specifically vitamin K, vitamin B's and biotin. When these guys can't do their job then your body can become deficient. (1)
When you have a vitamin K deficiency, you could experience heavy menstrual bleeding, easy bruising, and may bleed form rectum, nose or gums. Biotin deficiencies can lead to dry, scaly skin, hair loss, brittle hair, fatigue, insomnia, and loss of appetite. B vitamin deficiencies range from weakness, lightheadedness, heart palpitation, nerve problems, numbness and tingling, vision loss, and even constipation! You can see how this may be a vicious loop, and you can see how important it is to resolve constipation and get your micronutrients in balance.
People vary in their bowel movement habits, but you should be moving your bowels at least once every day, preferably move them every time you eat a large meal.
If you are having a bowel movement less than once/day, then you may have constipation. If you have fewer than 3 BMs/week, then for sure you have a problem.
If you are straining to pass, have a feeling of fullness after having a BM, or have hard, pebbly poops, these could also be indications you have constipation.
I have seen plenty of patients who say they do not have constipation, as every time they eat a Big Mac or other greasy food item they have to RUN to the bathroom! This is a whole other problem, but still points towards a failing digestive system. This may be Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Colitis, Dysbiosis, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Either way you still have a problem!
Fully formed, medium brown in color, may hang out in middle of toilet (doesn't float on top or sink to bottom), and you shouldn't really have to wipe your buttocks after a good poo.
If you have hard, pebbly, poo, or pencil-like stools, loose stools, or stinky stools, these could all be indications of different issues in your body, like bacterial infections, fungal overgrowth, parasites, impacted colon, hyper-motility, or protein or fat malabsorption.
Constipation is one of the most common digestive problems in the U.S. and something that is correctable for sure. You just have to find the right key to unlock your potential for greater health.
Here are the five most common reasons I see people have constipation:
Poor Diet - Most people today are eating a processed food diet, high in McDonald's or other fast-food and packaged meals, and missing out on the nutrients that facilitate good bowel movements. It is essential to get fiber in your diet, which means, eat more plants!
Stress - Stress plays a HUGE role in motility and digestive function. When you are stressed, your nervous system goes into a fight or flight response and causes your digestion to S-T-O-P. Think about it: when you are running from bears or tigers the last thing you want to do is stop to poo. No! You are running like crazy! your heart beats faster, your pulse races, your vision improves, and your digestion stops.
Consider how much stress you really are under! We all have it, and today it seems we have more stress than ever considering the state of the world today. That means we all have some side effects of stress (which there are a lot) and constipation is a huge one.
Dehydration - Let's get this straight: you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces every single day! And if you live at altitude like me, you need to drink more than that. If you are not drinking enough water you are not going to move your poo. Nor are you going to have a body that is pain-free and a nervous system and brain that works well too.
Sedentary Lifestyle - Yep! You've got it! If you aren't exercising you are going to have a sluggish everything! Sluggish body, mind, liver, digestive tract, etc. Get up and MOVE YOUR BODY! It doesn't have to be outrageous either. 20 minutes of vigorous movement, getting your heart rate up and breathing a little harder than normal should do the job.
Certain Medications - If you are stopped up first look in your medicine cabinet. You may be taking something that is causing your problem. The primary drugs that cause constipation include NSAIDS like Motrin or Aleve, opioid drugs like Vicodin, Dilaudid, blood pressure meds, some antidepressants and antihistamines. There are more, but this will get you started.
Some supplements can even cause constipation, especially iron supplements. Others include berberine, excessive vitamin D, NAC, chlorella, and more. This is exactly why you need to work with a practitioner who can check your body and give you a specific protocol to support your body's needs. Not every supplement is right for everybody!
If you are taking an iron supplement, you may want to consider taking a whole-food form so that you don't as big of a chance to get the side effects of traditional iron therapy.
Well, if your concerned, have a conversation with your doctor. Otherwise, look at the five primary reasons I see people experiencing constipation, you can use that as a guide. Get some exercise, dink more water, reduce your stress, eat more vegetables, and try to reduce your medications (with your doctor's help of course).
Others things that may help include reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption, and when you have the urge to go poo... GO POO! You could also try adding probiotics to your diet and eating prunes as well as more high-fiber foods.
Be mindful of laxative usage, and never use them for more than 2 weeks. Your body could become dependent and then you have an even bigger issue.
If you are looking for a little more guidance, schedule a consultation and let's get you on the road to healthy!
Dr. Brandy helps women optimize their lives and and step into their greatness by embracing their feminine warrior. Utilizing feminine empowerment coaching, functional medicine and shamanistic healing principles, she affects change in body, mind and spirit. She teaches from experience, having been 12 sizes bigger, recovered from Bi-Polar Manic Depression, Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue. Dr. Brandy's Story
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.