September 3, 2023

Feeling Constipated?

No one wants to talk about poop, but it is so important to our health!  Being constipated is not having a daily bowel movement.  At least 1!  Yep, you read that right … we need to have a daily, adequate bowel movement.  Constipation can leave not only feeling bloated, fat, and uncomfortable but also irritable, depressed, or even anxious.  

What is an adequate bowel movement?

That’s a great question.  Just having a daily bowel movement is not enough.  If your stools are hard, pellet like or difficult to pass that is also a sign of constipation

A normal, healthy bowel movement is easy to pass, formed, brown stool with a feeling of complete emptying out after your done.  

Why is having a good bowel movement important? 

Poop is so important to our health.  It gives us great insight to how our body is functioning.  When we are not having a daily bowel movement or our stools are hard, pellet-like like and difficult to pass this can add up to a lot of things….

     

      1. Pooping is a form of detoxification.  Not having a regular bowel movement means you are not detoxing. 

      1. How fast our bowels move tells us of our digestion and absorption.  Fast bowels in the case of diarrhea, leads to nutrient malabsorption, not absorbing enough nutrients from our food, simply because the food is not around long enough.  When we are constipated or have slow-moving bowels, the food is hanging around too long so any toxins in the food or stored toxins in our bodies are not properly eliminated.  

      1. Our guts are 2/3 of our immune system.  If you are constipated and/or have diarrhea, this tells us there is an imbalance of bacteria, pathogens, or toxin overload that may be confusing our immune system and contributing to symptoms and any diagnoses we currently have. 

      1. Our guts and our brains are connected.  The bugs in our guts are talking with our brains and our brains are affecting the bugs in our guts.  Say what?!?  From animal experiments and clinical data, the microbiota has been shown to affect host mood and behavior by producing metabolites and neurotransmitters altering mood and behavior4.

    Should I just take more fiber if I’m constipated?

    Most conventional treatment approaches for constipation are aimed at increasing fiber.  To put it simply, this is an inadequate approach.  There are many things that can contribute to a person’s ability to have an adequate bowel movement.  Let’s take a look at some factors that can cause you to be constipated…

       

        • Toxins.  This topic is near and dear to me because our world is becoming increasingly toxic.  Toxins like mold and mycotoxins, glyphosate, BPA, and PFA’s, heavy metals. 

        • Diet.  Diet plays in a role in everything!  But it is not the cure all to chronic disease.  Diet is a synergistic element that needs appreciation and recognition.  Gut bacteria release metabolites, toxins, and neurohormones that can alter eating behavior (Madison, A).

        • Pathogens.  “Bad guys” in the gut, like yeast/fungus, parasites, bacterial pathogens, and viruses, can slow down transit time.

        • Stress.  Stress is the ultimate killer and affects every body system.  Stress specifically has been shown in research to decrease the number of “good” bacteria in the gut and increase intestinal permeability3.  Gut microbiota-regulated neurotransmitter synthesis and functions in the gut–brain axis1.

      What can you do at home?

      Start by changing your diet.  Eat the rainbow!  Reduce processed foods and simple carbohydrates.  Work on stress reduction. (Read my article on how to stimulate your vagus nerve  to reduce anxiety and keep the gut-brain axis talking!)  Drink plenty of water and stop snacking!   Snacking slows down the migrating motor complex which is the cleansing wave in the gut2.  Every time we eat, it stops!  Snacking is a thing of the past.

      How can functional medicine help?

      A functional approach to being constipated is aimed at finding the triggers to the symptom.  What are the underlying causes?  Is it stress?  Is it pathogens?  Is it chronic, underlying infection or toxin exposure?  But where functional medicine shines is the focus on the body working as one system. 

       Sure, there is likely a trigger to the symptom that needs to be addressed, but the gut communicates with the brain, the brain communicates with the adrenals, the adrenals communicate with the thyroid and the thyroid communicates with the hormones etc, etc.  

      I am reminded of the old childhood tune…“The knee bone’s connected to the ankle bone.”

      Are you regularly constipated?

      If you or someone you know suffers from constipation then contact Nicole at Wave on Wave Health by calling 815-701-6507 or you get a FREE consult by clicking here. We are located at 401 Ocean Ave Suite 200-A, Melbourne Beach, FL 32951, United States.

      Functional medicine practitioners dive deep into a person’s history looking for triggers, as well as doing in-depth biomarker analysis and specialty testing like a comprehensive stool analysis.  My favorite is called GI Effects by Genova Diagnostics.

      References:

         

          1. Chen, Y.; Xu, J.; Chen, Y. Regulation of Neurotransmitters by the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Cognition in Neurological Disorders. Nutrients 2021, 13, 2099. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13062099.

          1. Deloose E, Janssen P, Depoortere I, Tack J. The migrating motor complex: control mechanisms and its role in health and disease. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012 Mar 27;9(5):271-85. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2012.57. PMID: 22450306.

          1. Madison A, Kiecolt-Glaser JK. Stress, depression, diet, and the gut microbiota: human-bacteria interactions at the core of psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition. Curr Opin Behav Sci. 2019 Aug;28:105-110. doi: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2019.01.011. Epub 2019 Mar 25. PMID: 32395568; PMCID: PMC7213601.

          1. Sun-Young Chang. Laboratory of Microbiology, College of. Pharmacy, Ajou University, 206 Worldcup-ro, Yeongtong-gu, Suwon 16499, Korea.

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