Why Am I Constipated? It Isn’t Just About Food
Written by: Marisol Teijeiro ND (inactive).
Medically reviewed by: Victoria Williams R.H.N.
Est. reading time: 6 minutes.
It isn’t a good time, sitting, waiting, wishing for something to manifest. In fact, it is totally painful. Yes, I’m talking about constipation. It affects millions around the world and is the most pressing health condition that exists today. Why then, are there not better ways to solve this ever-pressing problem? (pun intended)
Many people think that constipation simply has to do with food. Of course, food is a huge factor. Not eating enough fiber or drinking enough water can contribute to constipation. And if we eat foods that we are sensitive to, the body often responds with bloating and constipation. But there are a number of other factors that contribute to this agonizing issue which we will explore in this article.
How the body poops
The gut operates under a principle of pressure and lubrication. Without these, you cannot poo! This is why consuming a substantial amount of fiber helps you go to the bathroom. The fiber simply creates the pressure needed to push stools along your digestive tract and allows for the lower sphincter to relax so you can go poo. Fluids also help create pressure and have the double purpose of lubricating the digestive tract. Another key source of lubrication for the gut is the consumption of healthy fats.
The Psychology of Constipation
Without proper pressure and lubrication, there is a high chance of constipation. However, it is not this simple. Constipation is not only about food, it is mediated by a variety of other mechanisms
Hormones are another influencer of constipation. Thyroid issues can cause the metabolism to move at an incredibly slow rate, processing food and nourishment very slowly, and expelling it in the same manner1.
Estrogen dominance, which is an epidemic these days, also causes constipation2. High progesterone is required to have healthy bowel movements. When there is no stress, progesterone levels are higher, allowing the lower sphincter to work properly.
Nervous System Constipation
Stress is the other highly notable factor in constipation3. If you’re stressed, not only are you low in progesterone, but also in the minerals that help with relaxation and laxation such as magnesium and vitamin C.
Your lifestyle can also contribute to constipation4. Movement of the body is required for movement of the bowels! Makes total sense, right? In order for the smooth muscle of the bowel to contract properly, regular exercise and movement is required5.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the picture of constipation is correlated to being unable to let things go. You may have a tendency of holding onto things and not working through them. If you hoard, on either a physical or emotional level, you likely have issues with constipation. The body tends to freeze and slow down its activity to protect you.
3 Simple Fixes to Support Constipation
1. Analyzing Your Poo
If you learn how to read them, your poops can become your FREE daily oracle for the state of your health. They can help you decipher which factors are contributing to your constipation, and from there you can take the necessary steps to improve it.
Did you know that there are more than 50 Shades of Poo? Not really, but it sounds pretty cool, just like the movie 50 Shades of Grey. There are many colors, however, and it’s important to know which ones are normal and which ones could be a medical emergency.
Download our other free infographic, the 50 Shades of Poo, so you can find out what you should be looking for in the bowl. I promise you will be blown away by this one simple measure of poo yet there are so many more!
2. Castor Oil Packs
Castor Oil Packs are an amazing tool for constipation. In a study done in a home for the elderly, Castor Oil Packs were compared to conventional laxatives and found to be just as effective. The amazing thing is, there was no harsh urgency to run to the bathroom, as you get with laxatives.
Castor Oil Packs work on the physiological aspect of constipation, but they also indirectly help to balance hormones. Castor Oil Packs have a long history of use for supporting hormonal problems, including estrogen dominance and hypothyroidism. They may help with detoxification in the liver via glutathione7, which helps the liver to clear out excess hormones.
Castor Oil Packs work on the nervous system element of constipation by improving relaxation and balancing stress8,9. Another bonus of using Castor Oil Packs is that they may help with inflammation10,11, which can be yet another contributing factor in constipation12. Get started on your Castor Oil Pack practice today with the Queen of the Thrones® Castor Oil Pack for Liver Kit.
3. The Three Legged Stool
Now we know that constipation is about so much more than just food, but since the bowel runs on the principle of pressure and lubrication, it is still an important factor to support. We call this formula the ‘Three Legged Stool for Bowel Movement Success’.
- Fiber (pressure) – We are drastically deficient in the amount of fiber we are eating. The recommended dosage is 30 grams of fiber per day. On average, North Americans consume only 4-5 grams per day. Great sources of fiber are vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. Chia seeds are also excellent because they are high in calcium as well as fiber
Fluid (pressure and lubrication) – Our bodies are 80% water. Water is the universal solvent, so it moves and cleanses. Ideally, you want to consume 30ml/kg (or 2.2 lbs) of body weight each day, and more if you are exercising.
- Fat (lubrication) – Fat is like lubricant to your colon. Avocado (fiber and fat), olive oil or coconut oil are all amazing lubricating fats.
So, bottom line, pooping is dependent on so much more than just the foods you are eating. Digestion and elimination function is mediated by hormonal and nervous systems in the body, as well as your lifestyle and emotions.
Would you love a quick and easy recipe to help support colon cleansing and bowel movements? It incorporates what we like to call “ The Three Legged Stool” of…
1. Fiber (pressure)- Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber that help to bind and move toxins out of the body, plus they’re rich in calcium.
2. Fluid (pressure and lubrication)- The water in this recipe adds some fluid while softening the coconut oil so it can settle into your baking sheet.
3. Fat (lubrication)- Coconut oil is a great source of healthy fats that act like a lubricant to your colon.
Paleo Peppermint Bark Recipe
- 1 tbsp of chia seeds
- 2 tbsp of softened coconut oil
- 1 tbsp hot water
- 2 drops of peppermint oil
- Optional: Stevia for enhanced sweetness
- Mix or blend all ingredients together and pour into a baking sheet. You may add stevia for enhanced sweetness.
- Freeze overnight.
- Once frozen, break apart into pieces to enjoy and keep the rest in the freezer.
Get ready to embark on a journey of deliciousness and well-being with “The Paleo Peppermint Bark”! It’s a recipe that not only supports your colon health but also brings joy and excitement to your taste buds. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive into a world of flavor and rejuvenation!
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Click here for references
1. Anant D. Patil Link between hypothyroidism and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2014 May-Jun; 18(3): 307–309. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.131155 PMCID: PMC4056127PMID: 24944923
2. Ji-Eun Oh, Yong-Woon Kim, So-Young Park, and Jong-Yeon Kim Estrogen Rather Than Progesterone Cause Constipation in Both Female and Male Mice. Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2013 Oct; 17(5): 423–426. Published online 2013 Oct 17. doi: 10.4196/kjpp.2013.17.5.423 PMID: 24227943
3. Yu-Ming Chang, Mohamad El-Zaatari, and John Y Kao Does stress induce bowel dysfunction? Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2014 Dec 1. Published in final edited form as: Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014 Aug; 8(6): 583–585. Published online 2014 May 31. doi: 10.1586/17474124.2014.911659 PMID: 24881644
4. Rong Huang, Sai-Yin Ho, * Wing-Sze Lo, and Tai-Hing Lam Physical Activity and Constipation in Hong Kong Adolescents. PLoS One. 2014; 9(2): e90193. Published online 2014 Feb 28. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090193 PMID: 24587274
5. Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School Constipation and Impaction. Published: March, 2016 https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/constipation-and-impaction-a-to-z
6. Arslan GG, Eşer I. An examination of the effect of Castor Oil Packs on constipation in the elderly. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011 Feb;17(1):58-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2010.04.004. Epub 2010 May 18.
7. Holm T, Brøgger-Jensen MR, Johnson L, Kessel L.Glutathione preservation during storage of rat lenses in optisol-GS and castor oil. PLoS One. 2013 Nov 19;8(11):e79620. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079620. eCollection 2013.
8 Walker SC1, Trotter PD2, Swaney WT2, Marshall A3, Mcglone FP4. C-tactile afferents: Cutaneous mediators of oxytocin release during affiliative tactile interactions? Neuropeptides. 2017 Aug;64:27-38. doi: 10.1016/j.npep.2017.01.001. Epub 2017 Jan 19.
9 Rolls ET et all. Representations of pleasant and painful touch in the human orbitofrontal and cingulate cortices. Cereb Cortex. 2003 Mar;13(3):308-17. ( Dopamine release, Limbic System of brain- Fatty Meal Satisfaction)
10 Grady H. Immunomodulation through castor oil packs. The Journal of Naturopathic Medicine. Volume 7 Jan 1 1998; 7(1): 84-9
11 Vieira C et al. .Effect of ricinoleic acid in acute and subchronic experimental models of inflammation. Mediators Inflamm. 2000;9(5):223-8.
12 Marjan Mokhtare, 1 Rahele Alimoradzadeh, 2 Shahram Agah, 3 ,* Hossein Mirmiranpour, 4 andNiloofar Khodabandehloo The Association between Modulating Inflammatory Cytokines and Constipation of Geriatrics in Iran. Middle East J Dig Dis. 2017 Oct; 9(4): 228–234. doi: 10.15171/mejdd.2017.78 PMID: 29255581
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