I’ll bet that if you have been experiencing constipation on a regular basis and have looked for solutions, you’ve heard a million times that you should drink more water and eat more fiber. While that is good advice and works for many people, there are just as many who remain constipated after following this advice because their constipation is caused by something else.
Let’s look further at this condition and see what some of the underlying issues could be aside from dehydration and lack of dietary fiber.
Magnesium is a mineral that is not stored in our body and must be replenished daily by diet or supplementation, yet many people do not get enough magnesium and don’t even know it. Magnesium is responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body according to the National Institutes of Health. That means that by the time food reaches the colon, there is no magnesium left. Magnesium is needed in the colon to help soften the stool by retaining water in the colon. This makes stool easier to pass and improves bowel regularity. For many people, a daily magnesium supplement works wonders for constipation.
Vitamin B Deficiency
B vitamins help to induce peristalsis, the wave-like contraction of the digestive tract that propels food through the colon. Some people experience slowed peristalsis due to a lack of B vitamins, which trigger the nervous system to produce effective bowel contractions and muscle tone. B vitamin deficiencies affect many people due to their inability to absorb this nutrient from the food they eat or due to a lack of B vitamins from their diet.
Depression is another important underlying reason for constipation. We now know from scientific studies on the human microbiome that the gut and the brain are closely connected. The question is: what comes first the chicken or the egg? Many people who suffer from depression have constipation and vice versa. The bacterial balance of the gut plays an important role in both conditions.
Food sensitivities to gluten, dairy, and other foods can certainly make a person constipated. This process develops quietly in most people over a long period of time. Many people tolerate foods early in life, but as they age food sensitivities will begin to show up as many different chronic health symptoms and conditions, constipation being one of them.
Your body’s position during elimination is so important. In Western civilized cultures we sit on a standard toilet, but in most indigenous cultures they squat. (By the way, the incidence of digestive conditions such as colon cancer, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, IBD, and IBS in these cultures is very low). While it may sound primitive, the squatting position places pressure on the lower abdomen, which helps to facilitate a bowel movement. Fortunately, you can purchase a “poop stool” to use with your toilet, which elevates your feet to mimic the squatting position. This can make a big difference on your bowel elimination.
Lastly, the thyroid plays a big role in constipation, especially hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function. If the body were a car, the thyroid would be considered the spark plug. If the thyroid is sluggish, the colon will be sluggish. If you have ruled out all the above factors, please get your thyroid function checked. I recommend that you see an integrative or functional medicine doctor who can determine whether you have subclinical hypothyroidism, something that many conventional doctors miss.
When the colon is slow, waste is not properly eliminated from the body. As a consequence, prolonged bacterial fermentation of retained waste produces harmful or poisonous chemicals that can be absorbed into the blood stream, triggering a host of chronic symptoms and health conditions.
The bottom line: your poop should come out of you like a child sliding down a water slide—a slight push and out it goes. You will want to do what you can to achieve bowel regularity on a daily basis.
© Brenda Watson, CNC