Our Top Tips to Beat Constipation
We talk about poop with every patient. The frequency, colour, consistency etc of your poo can actually tell us a lot about what is going on in your body. Something we encounter often in clinic is constipation, particularly in the Winter months.
Constipation can be a relative term. For some, constipation presents as passing a bowel movement once every 4 or 5 days. For others, constipation can present as having a bowel movement every day or two, but the bowel movement is hard to pass and leaves you feeling like you are not fully evacuated. So what should your poo look like? It should be dark brown in colour, easy to pass, fully formed and ideally once or twice a day. If this sounds nothing like you, read on for our top tips to get you pooping regularly and feeling more comfortable!
1. Chewing food thoroughly not only begins the digestion process by releasing enzymes in the mouth and gut to break down our food, it also signals to spinal nerves that it is time to release the contents of the bowels. Less chewing due to eating heartier, heavier and more well cooked food in warmer months means less of this amazing feedback to our guts.
The fix?Focus on chewing your food well – at least 15 times for each bite and more for some foods like meat. In an ideal world our food should be a smooth mixture of saliva and food just before we swallow it (think baby food), not just chunks of food.
You can also try adding foods like brown rice cooked al dente, chickpeas, nuts and seeds etc. to your more wintery foods like curries and soups. These foods contain high amounts of fibre which is essential for regular bowel movements as well as being quite fibrous in nature, meaning that they require and encourage plenty of chewing.
2. Water is essential for lubricating the bowels to allow for the easy passing of good poops! The problem over winter is that as the temperature drops, so too do peoples thirst levels. Couple this with feeling averse to anything cold and it means that many people don’t get their required amount of water each day.
The fix?Your water doesn’t have to be plain, cold water from a water bottle. You can meet your water requirements by drinking warm water with fresh ginger and lemon in it, herbal teas, bone broth or miso soup.
3. Qi can be defined as “a circulating life force” that underpins Chinese Medicine. This life force energises our organs, creates flow in our lives and brings us vitality. Moving our bodies regularly supports the flow of Qi.
When the bowels are sluggish and hard dry stools are passed, it is said that our Qi is stagnant. On a practical level, most of us notice a drop in physical activity over Winter when the days are colder and shorter. We might skip out on our early morning walks more often because it’s cold and dark, or not make it to our gym as often if we are recovering from colds or viruses.
The Fix?Get your Qi flowing with physical movement. The consistency of moving your body, especially in winter, is more important than the type of exercise you do. You can try walking, running, cycling, pilates, yoga, strength training, HIIT training etc. You could also try these simple yoga poses morning and night https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/yoga-for-constipation#takeawayChoose whichever activity helps to energise and invigorate you to get your Qi flowing.
4. What if you are already pretty active but Winter has got you as cold as ice and not able to poop? In Chinese Medicine the cold weather alone can bring stagnation of Qi.
The Fix?Hot water bottles placed on your belly can help to warm you up and bring warmth and blood flow to your small and large intestines. This is great to do in the evening with 5 minutes of deep belly breathing to calm the mind and body to allow relaxation of the digestive tract.
Contact us to talk about how we might be able to help you to improve your digestion once and for all!