There are few feelings worse than that “plugged up” sensation you get when things aren’t moving the way they should. Constipation is one of the most common digestive complaints. Bloating, gas, cramps, and multiple trips to the bathroom can be miserable. Your body is trying to tell you something is wrong and the root cause of these symptoms is in your digestive system. The colon is a breeding ground for both good and bad bacteria, but in a clean, healthy environment the good bacteria will control the bad.
Your colon is well equipped with a very efficient system of elimination if it is in good and proper working order. However, when too much fermentation and putrefaction is produced in the colon and the waste is not expelled from the body efficiently, the result is constipation. Chronic constipation is unhealthy because toxins are formed and absorbed when waste remains in the intestines. If you consistently find yourself constipated, there are a few things you should and should not do in order to alleviate your discomfort.
Do’s and Don’ts
DO… eat your main meal early in the day, drink 8-10 glasses of filtered water, chew your food 20-30 times per mouthful, follow food-combining rules, establish a habit of moving your bowels at a certain time each day, use a footstool to elevate your feet while you move your bowels, take hot and cold sitz baths to stimulate abdominal organs, and get enough sleep. Devoting time each day to relaxing quietly has a positive effect on your digestive system, and along with that, thinking positive does also!
Two very important things you can do to prevent constipation are consuming enough fiber and drinking enough water each day. The average person eats just eight to twelve grams of fiber daily – when the recommended amount is twenty-five to thirty-five grams. A diet rich in fiber (raw fruits and vegetables) helps you produce soft, well-formed, regular bowel movements when you increase your water intake along with it.
Try to eat your main meal early in the day (at mid-day), rather than in the evening and promote the friendly bacteria in your intestines by taking a probiotic supplement each day. Regular exercise promotes circulation and aids the digestive system – walk, swim, do yoga – just get up and get moving! Along with this, use breathing exercises at least three times a week to tone and stimulate the digestive organs. Last, but not least, use tummy massage to help elimination and locate tense areas when you are having a problem.
DON’T… eat when you are upset, overeat, drink liquids with meals, use pharmaceutical laxatives, give in to worry or stress, suppress your feelings, or put off going to the bathroom.
The first step in combating constipation is to understand your body cycles. While our bodies consist of complex systems that seem to enjoy throwing us for a loop, there are many constants that we can use to our advantage when working to create a smooth, flowing rhythm in how things work. There are three cycles to be aware of when your desire is to move things along.
Cycle 1 occurs from the early morning hours through lunchtime (4:00AM to 12:00PM). Considering all of the toxins that we come in contact with every day, this cycle should be considered extremely important, as it works to detoxify our bodies and restore the delicate internal balance. Ideally, cleansing foods should be eaten during this cycle to avoid introducing more toxins into the mix. A good rule of thumb is to keep breakfast light every day, consuming fresh fruits, vegetables and squeezed fruit juices, herbal teas, sprout drinks, nut milk, or seed milk in place of heavy starches and proteins.
Cycle 2, also considered to be the assimilation cycle, hits around lunchtime and lasts until 8:00PM. If you are feeling low on energy, protein is an excellent way to give yourself a boost at lunch. Combine your protein with vegetables or eat vegetables plus a starch. Ideally, lunch should be eaten before 2:00PM, with four-hour intervals between meals, however, if you find yourself hungry in the afternoon, a piece of fruit or raw veggies are excellent for curbing appetite and increasing energy.
Cycle 3 is your body’s time for resting and repairing itself, getting ready for another hard day’s work. As a general rule, it is helpful to your body if you refrain from eating within three hours of your bedtime. Light snacks are fine if you find yourself hungry, especially options such as seeds, fruits, broths, herb teas, and whole food supplements.
Although understanding your body’s cycles is extremely helpful for the day-to-day maintenance of your normal body functions, performing an occasional cleanse can jump-start your body and keep it running smoothly.