If you often struggle to go to the bathroom, you're not alone. When it comes to digestive issues, chronic constipation is one of the most common problems. In fact, it's estimated to affect up to 27 percent of the North American population!
Besides being unhealthy, constipation is uncomfortable, frustrating, and stressful to deal with. Believe me, I know the feeling well — I dealt with chronic constipation for years.
In my early twenties, I was in an unhealthy relationship and started experiencing physical ailments from the mental and emotional turmoil I was going through.
Over-the-counter laxatives may ease the symptoms for a while — but they won't treat the root cause.
Back then, I wasn't eating healthy, and I wasn't nearly as educated as I am now on what foods would have been healing for my condition. To combat the constipation, I tried eliminating certain foods from my diet and adding certain foods in, but to no avail. I added more greens in since I had always associated leafy vegetables with being helpful with bowel movements. But the greens only made the constipation worse.
My dietary choices, combined with the stress of being in an unhappy marriage, wreaked havoc on my digestive system. I didn’t realize that all the emotional stress I was experiencing was literally backing me up. At the time, I was stuffing my emotions and not in touch with my true feelings — and my body literally started holding everything in.
That's why, to me, chronic constipation is one of the first signs that you're not listening to your body. It's a sign that you're not feeding your body, mind, and soul with the proper foods, thoughts, and feelings. So in order to have total healing, both the physical and the emotional areas need to be addressed. Over-the-counter laxatives may ease the symptoms for a while — but they won't treat the root cause of constipation.
It was only after I starting listening to my body, became a certified holistic health coach, and went through a trial-and-error process to discover the natural treatments that worked best for me that I finally got the condition under control.
Here are the five natural methods I used to cure my constipation for good:
1. I started listening to my body.
As I mentioned before, I first tried incorporating tons of greens into my diet — only to find myself getting even more constipated. Of course, in most cases, greens are amazing! But they simply don't work for my digestive system. This is what I mean when I say, “Listen to your body.”
What works for your body may be completely different from that of a family member or friend. So one of the most powerful things you can do to eliminate constipation or any digestive ailment is to pay attention to what's going on in your body the first hour after you consume specific foods.
By incorporating this into your routine, you'll pinpoint what specific foods are backing you up and what foods are promoting healthy digestion.
2. I hydrated like it was my job.
It's no secret that water is one of the keys to overall health and well-being. But it's especially the case when it comes to moving waste out of your body.
I like to use the analogy of a dirty dish that has dried food stuck on it. When the dish is submerged into water, the food particles slowly start loosening up and coming off. It's the same thing with your digestive system. Staying hydrated and drinking the proper amount of water for your body is key to avoiding constipation.
Once again, I believe that different people need different amounts of water — the standard advice of eight glasses a day isn't right for everyone. It's something you need to figure out by listening to your body. Experiment and see what amount has you eliminating more and feeling your best.
3. I got regular massages.
While there hasn't been a lot of scientific research in this area yet, I personally saw that being under chronic stress during my bad marriage contributed to my digestive issues.
Plus, massage therapists can use certain techniques to coax the digestive system into moving properly and loosening everything up. A 2009 study in the International Journal of Nursing Studies found that abdominal massages significantly decreased constipation and led to more trips to the bathroom. A good abdominal massage by a licensed professional, in conjunction with drinking water, can be very effective.
4. I loaded up on olive oil.
Olive oil has traditionally been used to treat constipation, and some recent research also suggests that it can be helpful. Personally, I found that consuming about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and an avocado (a good source of fiber) every day really helped to keep things running smoothly.
Be sure you're consuming pure olive oil that's not mixed with any other oils, like canola or vegetable oil. And don’t worry about the fat content — the healthy fats in olive oil and avocados are great for many systems of your body.
5. I evaluated my emotions.
Personally, I saw that my repressed emotions during my stressful marriage showed up metaphorically in the form of constipation.
So, I recommend taking time to evaluate your feelings and ask yourself some questions: Is there something you're withholding? Maybe something you're not in communication about that you need to be? Are you silently stuffing your emotions or even denying that they exist?
Holistic health is achieved not only by eating well and being active but by processing and allowing yourself to experience your authentic feelings.
Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.