How to Cure Chronic Constipation - Healthy Lifestyle Changes for Restoring Normal Bowel Movements
by N J Howell
What causes gas and bloating?
This is part of a series on chronic constipation. On this page, we are talking about the changes you can make to end the discomfort of chronic constipation in your life. If you've arrived to this page directly, doing a search for chronic constipation remedies, please start with part one on chronic constipation, part one
Prolonged stress and constipation: My biggest challenge in maintaining eliminatory health lies in handling stress better. I honestly believe prolonged stress (stress lasting more than a week and of a significant nature) is one of the underlying causes of many cases of chronic constipation.
So, the biggest tip I could offer would be to look at your stress levels when experiencing chronic constipation and take action to reduce stressors that may be causing your eliminatory health to suffer. I listed some good natural stress reducers in part three so if you didn't read that yet, please go back and check that section.
Besides prolonged stress, the next most common factor I see in constipation is simply chronic dehydration. If you think about it, dehydration is stress too, a harmful prolonged stress on the body if chronic. People who have chronic constipation typically also have chronic prolonged stress. Not sure why ... Does stress use up more water or do we drink less water when we are stressed?
Another very typical kind of prolonged stress pattern I see in the chronically constipated person is a tendency to be in emotional overwhelm or emotional suppression a lot. In the same way that negative emotions like worry, anger and fear could be considered emotional stressors.
Drink more pure water, all throughout the day, if you are experiencing constipation and see if it doesn't start to balance out. Expect some detoxing too, once your body hydrates and the organs can work the way nature intended. When I say to drink pure water throughout the day, I really mean just that. Sipping on water, as your beverage of choice, while working at your desk or watching tv at night, is a healthy habit that can result in better eliminatory health but also in better skin, better sleep and better digestion.
Stop eating refined white sugar
I hesitate to say this because you may turn to artificial sweeteners like splenda, aspartame or sweet'n'low intead of refined white sugar as a sweetener. Frankly, I consider those near as unhealthy as eating refined white sugar. The only advantage is less calories and, weighed against the disadvantages, it isn't worth it for me.
The substitute sweetener I'd run from is high fructose corn syrup. It actually contributes to weight gain by turning off the sensor in the body that would say "I'm full". High fructose corn syrup creates a crave response for more. It interacts with birth control pills, elevating insulin levels in women who take oral contraceptives. Fructose has some effects on the liver that are not beneficial. Studies with rats given a high-fructose diet resulted in rats with livers that were fat-laden and cirrotic, similar to the liver of an alcoholic. Read more about high fructose corn syrup dangers from Dr. Hyman's blog.
About Stevia and Agave: Good natural substitutes for sweetening that you may want to explore include agave and stevia. Both are natural, plant-based sweeteners.I have a lot of people say they can't stand stevia because it has a bitter aftertaste. Not all stevia has that. It may cost a little to experiment but there are brands that are not as bitter. As for agave, for my money, organic amber agave nectar tastes incredibly good, even better than sugar. Agave is great in coffee and really, it could replace all need for refined white sugar. I use Madhava Organic Amber Agave Nectar. Believe it or not, you may now find Madhava Agave Nectar at some Walmart stores.
Stop eating refined white flour products
White flour is like putting glue in your stomach. It does not move through like whole grain flour that has fiber. If you cannot wean yourself off refined white flour products completely, at least look for the "whole grain" blends. At least you'll be getting some whole grain goodness in with the refined white flour glue with those hybrid breads. My nephews like WhiteWheat, one such example of hybrid bread that has more fiber.
Reduce Meat Consumption:
Basically, the body really can't digest cooked meats. I was watching Dr. Oz on Oprah the other day and he put it quite well, when he said that meat sort of just rots in the digestive system. If you can't stop eating meat, focus more on organic chicken or fish and stay away from beef and pork, and eat whatever meat you choose to eat either baked, broiled or broasted, not fried. When you choose to eat beef, please consider grass fed beef for a healthier Omega balance between 3, 6 and 9 omega acids. Let's face it, a lot of us (me included) want to eat meat so there is something you can do to reduce the impact of digestion. Consider a digestive enzyme supplement high in protease, the enzyme responsible for digesting proteins. The link I've provided is for a company that sells the best enzyme formulations I've come across to date.
Increase raw fruits, veggies,whole grains:
This raw fruits and veggies thing is not a new idea. It's just one that bears repeating because so many of us, despite the many encouragements to do so, still do not eat a lot of fresh foods. If you just don't particularly care for fresh veggies or fruits, there are freeze-dried powders that contain virtually all the nutrition of fresh foods. I take Red Lightning and a juice/veggie capsule called Ultra Juice, by Nature's Plus. You can find them in your local health food store.
Part Five: Natural constipation remedies
Eliminatory Health Disclaimer: Although not really a cure for constipation, you can go a LONG way toward restoring and maintaing healthy elimination by getting rid of refined white flour products, refined white sugar and heavy meats. Drinking more water and eating more fresh fruits and veggies is also a bit boost for eliminatory health. However, if you still experience being constipated to a chronic level after making those changes, or if you experience severe pain, bloating, bleeding or other symptoms, check with your doctor to rule out more serious causes of chronic constipation.