Constipation and Perfecting Your Poop
CONSTIPATION AND PERFECTING YOUR POOP
Having a daily bowel movement is so important to overall health and our poop can tell us so much about digestion, absorption, bacterial overgrowth and inflammatory status in the body! In the Naturally Nourished clinic, there is an entire section of a new client intake dedicated to digestion and 10+ questions about poop! Beyond conditions like IBS and IBD, bowel regularity is an essential part of feeling your best and detoxifying the body and when off can give us insights into what is going on beyond the surface. Learn about drivers of constipation from stress to travel to foods and drugs and get food as medicine and supplement recommendations to achieve regularity and feel your best!
More of an auditory learner? Check out this podcast episode on Perfecting Your Poop!
What exactly is poop?
50 to 80 percent of your poop (excluding water) is actually bacteria that had been living in your intestines and was then ejected as food passed through. Many of the bacteria in poop are still alive, but some are dead — carcasses of species that bloomed as they fed on the indigestible plant matter you consumed, then died shortly afterward. But it’s not all bacteria. Your poop also includes some of this indigestible plant matter — like the cellulose in vegetables — small amounts of your own tissue: intestinal lining cells that were sloughed off during digestion.
What should my poop look like?!
Ideally we want to see one long, uniform movement that is easy to pass. Ideally there should be no undigested particles, mucus or oily sheen and you shouldn’t have to strain to have a bowel movement. The Bristol Stool Scale is a great place to start for a visual of what “normal” looks like, and you are aiming for a type 4!
Why does constipation occur?
- Not enough probiotics, dysbiosis, or suboptimal prebiotics to feed good bacteria!
- Lack of fiber in the diet
- Stress! Sympathetic overdrive can slow peristalsis or movement of fecal matter through the intestines
- Inflammation of the bowel can drive constipation
- Nutrient deficiency including B vitamins and Magnesium
- Medication use: opioids, antidepressants, birth control
- Foods that drive constipation: unripe bananas and persimmons (high in tannins which reduce transit time), dairy, gluten and grains
Why Does Constipation Impact More Women Than Men?
Women have wider pelvises than men, as well as extra internal organs (such as the uterus and ovaries) in the region. As a result, their colons hang a bit lower than men’s, and are a bit longer: on average, by ten centimeters. Finally, men have more rigid abdominal walls that help push food through the GI tract more effectively. Endometriosis can further complicate things as there may be adhesions that make it physically difficult to move stool along. Estrogen is also detoxified by the bowels and excessive estrogen can slow colon motility! We recommend EPA-DHA Extra, Super Turmeric and/or Inflammazyme at cycle time to reduce inflammation, cramping and keep you going!
Traveling and Constipation
No, it’s not just you! Constipation during travel is incredibly common due to the change in ritual/environment, electrolyte and hydration shifts, changes in food etc. We can also see decreased peristalsis with stress of travel. Check out this episode on travel where we address constipation and be sure to pack Relax and Regulate and Targeted Strength Probiotic!
The Issue with Over the Counters
Many of the over the counter drugs for constipation work to soften stool or bring water to colon. If you look at ANY of these drugs they are not recommended for long term use!
Miralx is a hyperosmotic laxative that is oftenused off label for children, though it is only approved by FDA for age 17 or older. It has a whole bunch of scary side effects like behavioral issues, speech problems, anxiety, and depression! An FDA grant was awarded to the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania in 2014. So far, the study has found 167 cases of adverse side effects in children who took the laxative, including 37 kids who displayed neurological or psychiatric symptoms. And the FDA also disclosed that MiraLax powder was found to contain small amounts of the same toxic ingredients found in antifreeze called polyethylene glycol (PEG) 3350.
Colace is an emollient laxative (also known as a stool softener) can cause bloating, cramping, diarrhea, gas, rectal irritation and throat irritation.
Dulcolax is the brand name of the drug bisacodyl, used to treat constipation and falls into the category of stimulant laxatives, which work by increasing the motions of tiny, finger-like tissues on the intestinal wall called villi. This can cause cramping, sodium/potassium fluctuations, impaired kidney function, muscle loss and loss of colon function.
Stimulant laxatives like sennecot, ex-lax and bisacodyl can drive dependence as well as cramping, bloating and diarrhea.
3 F’s for Prevention and Treatment of Constipation
Fiber: aim for 25g daily
Prunes, carrot fiber, flax, chia seeds, psyllium husk and beta-glucans are best choices but be mindful of overchelation! Use PhytoFiber as supplementation and include chia seeds, brussels, broccoli and fiber containing fruits and veggies daily.
Too much fiber without enough fluid can act like a brick instead of a broom! Ensure at least 1/2 of body weight in fluid ounces and work in Water Infusions!
Work in walking, stretching, yoga and light resistance training and aim to move your body every day!
Support for Regularity
This Coconut Oil Prune Puree is a great option for adding more fiber to the diet and is combined with coconut oil to lubricate the bowel! Can be used at 2 Tbsp daily to support regularity.
EPA DHA Extra can aid in optimizing fat intake and will also reduce inflammation that may hinder bowel function.
B Complex This supports stress response as well as peristalsis, take 1/day with food
B12 Boost–Take one at rise as this supports neurological impulse and peristalsis
Relax and Regulate 1-2 scoops at bed, additional 1-2 scoops at rise to aid in daily motility
Magnesium Citrate (for occasional use)
Vitamin C Powder 2-3g/day
Consider a Micronutrient Panel to see if nutrient deficiency is driving chronic constipation!
If fiber isn’t tolerated or drives more gas or bloating, dysbiosis or overgrowth of bad bacteria is a consideration as is gut sterility! A Probiotic Challenge can help you to assess whether your gut is in a dysbiotic or symbiotic state and whether a Candida Cleanse is the next step! This Candida Quiz is also a great resource for assessing whether you have symptoms of yeast or bacterial imbalance. If sytmptoms are severe, you may want to consider a Stool Test.
Food As Medicine Solutions
Here are a few favorite recipes and products to aid in increasing fiber in the diet and providing gut supporting compounds.
- Maca Cacao Chia Pudding
- Nuttzo Nut Butter
- F Bombs Nut Butter Packs (use code AliMillerRD for 20% off)
- Low Carb Collagen Zucchini Muffins
Not sure what an ingredient is or which brand to choose? Check out the Ali Miller RD Amazon Store for pantry staples, favorite snacks and more!