Gut Health and Digestion – The Causes and Emotional Connection
Ideally, we should all have at least one to three bowel movements per day. Allopathic medicine diagnoses constipation when bowel movements occur three times or less per week.
According to holistic health practitioners such as naturopaths, Chinese medicine physicians and holistic nutritionists, if we have any less than one bowel movement per day we are constipated!
Within 30 to 60 minutes after eating, we should have a bowel movement. Eating stimulates the entire digestive system. The transit time of the bowel, or the time it takes for one meal to travel through the digestive tract, is approximately 18 hours.
Make it your habit to routinely sit on the toilet within 30 minutes to an hour after eating breakfast to train your body to relax the bowels and have a bowel movement. Your bowel movement should be soft and easy to pass with clean up being quite easy!
Use a 'Squatty Potty'
Consider adding a foot stool so that you can prop your feet up to achieve a deeper squatting position while sitting on the toilet. In this position, the large intestine is aligned and the puborectalis muscle is relaxed in a way that makes having a bowel movement easier for the body.
You might have seen a toddler squat down when they get ready to have a bowel movement! Get ready to run them to the bathroom!
Achieving a squat position will greatly aid in reducing the incidence of hemorrhoids because you will be less likely to strain while eliminating your waste.
Regular Bowel Movements are a Form of Detoxification
It is vitally important to detoxify the body by regularly removing accumulated waste products completely at least once per day. Intestinal toxemia and autointoxication cause constipation and challenge the immune system. With constipation there is an increased risk of acute illness, and progressive and chronic disease.
Constipation will result in a higher workload for the other excretory organs such as the skin, liver, kidneys, the lymph system and the lungs. This higher demand causes these organs to be overworked and eventually they will stop working properly or entirely!
Cellular metabolism becomes slow meaning that growth and repair is delayed and the body become less vibrant and energetic.
Diarrhea and Constipation are Linked
Interestingly, diarrhea is another form of constipation. When the body is not able to move the digestive system’s contents through the intestinal tract, the body liquefies the content of the colon in order to rid the body of the impacted feces.
Causes of Constipation
There are a large number of reasons why one could suffer with constipation:
1) Our diets are too low in fibre;
2) We do not move our bodies for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day; and
3) Many of us are very dehydrated which inhibits the movement of our waste through our system.
In addition, the under-functioning of other elimination organs can greatly contribute to constipation. Appropriate amounts of bile from the gallbladder and the liver is necessary to emulsify fats and stimulate the bowels to move.
The thyroid gland, which produces hormones vital to controlling our metabolic rate, must be working efficiently. If the thyroid gland is functioning too slowly and not secreting enough thyroxin into the bloodstream, digestion is slowed which can lead to constipation.
Under active adrenal glands can cause us to feel tired, low, sluggish, unmotivated and unable to be active and interactive with others. These symptoms will actually contribute to constipation as well.
Emotion and the Connection to Constipation:
Constipation ( which includes diarrhea) is well known to be connected to increased nervous activity. The increased action of the sympathetic nervous system slows, tenses, and obstructs the normal function of the colon. Fear, anxiety, anger, and grief are the emotions that can also contribute to altered actions of the digestive tract.
Suggestions for Managing Emotions to Avoid Constipation
Here are some tips to keep your bowels moving around meal times:
1) As much as possible, avoid eating while upset;
2) Eat with a friend;
3) Relax in a peaceful setting; and
4) Play soft music to help relax the nervous system.
Ever see an animal run around and stretch and scratch happily after they've had a poop? With regular daily elimination, you'll likely have a spring in your step too!