It's a common problem that most people avoid talking about. I, on the other hand, love discussing constipation, particularly because it can be a big indicator of your current health. Constipation has many causes, from poor diet and fluid intake to the presence of a pathogen (bacteria, fungi) to emotional imbalance.
Here are my top 13 ways to help get the bowels moving right now:
1. Express yourself.
Holding on to past memories or emotions can lead to anxiety and amplify stress. During stressful times it's common to hold on to our poo as well.
In Chinese medicine, when the large intestine (AKA our garbage collector) is out of balance, it's associated with an inability to grieve and let go. As a result, our bowel movements become sluggish and we store and recycle our waste, collecting toxins, bad breath, and all sorts of funky conditions along the way.
2. Eat fiber.
Every meal should contain a portion of fibrous food such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, berries, and avocado.
Fiber helps move waste through our digestive system and is also food for your gut bacteria. A healthy, diverse gut flora is important for regular bowel movements.
3. Include foods with prebiotics and probiotics.
These guys are food and fertilizer for gut bacteria, stimulating their growth and encouraging regular bowel movements. Good sources of prebiotics are asparagus, artichokes, green (raw) banana, and brown rice (that has cooled down). Good sources of probiotics are kombucha, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi, and apple cider vinegar.
Gradually increase the probiotics like fermented veggies, sauerkraut, and kimchi in your diet to let the gut adjust to a new bacterial environment. Start with 1 teaspoon with meals, increasing to 1 tablespoon.
4. Drink lots of purified water.
Water has the power to nudge waste out of your colon. The amount will depend on your activity levels, but as a general rule aim for 1½ liters daily.
Add ¼ teaspoon of Himalayan salt to your water to enhance absorption. Fluids should be warm or room temperature. Warmth loosens, unblocks, and welcomes muscle relaxation. Cold seizes and constricts.
5. Follow a routine.
Routine can dramatically improve constipation. To promote a healthy evacuation, your morning may include 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in warm water upon rising, followed by a smoothie rich in fats and fiber.
Relax for 15 minutes post-breakfast, calmly plan your day ahead, read a blog post, or engage in calm conversation. Following breakfast, I stand and read a blog post.
6. Use a standing desk.
Sitting, particularly after eating, can slow digestion down because it compresses the abdominal organs.
Sluggish digestion can lead to constipation and an imbalance in your gut microbiome (gut flora). Try standing or using a standing desk after meals instead.
7. Add herbs and spices to your dishes.
Certain herbs and spices nourish the organs of digestion and elimination, such as the liver, kidneys, stomach, and spleen.
They improve overall breakdown of food and can dislodge the waste that clings to your intestinal walls. Add them to your meals, smoothies, teas, slow-cooked dishes, and salads daily.
My favorites are: