Try these ways to stay regular all day, every day. By Leona Harter, L.Ac. for elephantjournal.com
In today’s high stress world of fast food and eating on the go, the days of sitting down and enjoying our food are almost a thing of the past.
As a result, our society is plagued with poor digestion: heartburn, acid reflux, constipation and diarrhea are common symptoms experienced by almost every adult.
Today, I’m going to address constipation. As we all know, chronic constipation can be hard to stop or eliminate, especially if the colon has become weak from taking too many laxative products. In most cases, the colon will have to be retrained on how to have a proper bowel movement.
For those of you that have mild constipation, here is a morning smoothie that will help activate your colon; this smoothie is packed with nutrients that your body will use to regenerate your colon and body. I suggest making enough so that you can drink part of it right away and still have some leftover to put into a thermos, to drink around ten in the morning.
When I make this drink, I start by putting things in the blender without measuring—you can do the same and make adjustments as you go according to your own tastes. Here we go:
> one peeled banana
> four to five strawberries or other type of berries (or fruits)
> one tablespoon of lecithin granules
> one to two teaspoons of flax seed oil
> equal amounts of almond milk and apple juice
In a coffee grinder, grind up around a teaspoon or less of the following:
> Brown sesame seeds: These are high in lecithin, vitamin C, E and calcium. They improve liver function and help with constipation.
> Sunflower seeds: These are high in protein, calcium and iron. They are one of the best natural foods which feed the entire body.
> Flax seeds: These are high in fiber and provide bulk for your stools.
> Almonds: Use around six to seven. They are high in calcium, phosphorus and have some B-vitamins. Only eat a few if you are watching your weight, as they are high in calories.
After grinding the seeds, place them in the blender and blend everything for about three to four minutes. If you need a little sweetness, you can add a small amount of honey or agave nectar but do not add refined sugar. Personally, I find this drink to be sweet enough, without adding additional sweetener.
The powder of a few acidophilus capsules can also be added; these probiotics also aid the digestive process and can help balance your intestinal flora. If I don’t add the almonds, just place all the tiny seeds into the blender, without grinding them up—the blender will break them up.
This is a powerful smoothie that helps give you energy to get you up and going in the mornings and it also helps to activate your colon to get things moving from the inside out… literally.
Combating chronic constipation may require more dietary and lifestyle changes than just a smoothie, in order to obtain long term results. Many times, simple changes can help relieve your symptoms and manage constipation. For chronic issues, a successful treatment plan may take time and effort.
The following diet and lifestyle changes can help tremendously (remember, changes can take time, so start slowly and make changes gradually):
1. Eat a high-fiber diet. Make sure you’re getting at least twenty to thirty-five grams of fiber each day. This will help your body form soft, bulky stools. High fiber foods include beans, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Limit your intake of low fiber foods; these include meat, cheese and processed foods.
2. Get regular exercise. Physical activity is not only good for your cardiovascular system, it can also help to stimulate your intestinal activity.
3. Drink plenty of water. Adequate fluid intake helps to soften your stools. Dehydration starts from the inside out. Without proper hydration, your intestines cannot function properly.
4. Stay away from laxatives. These substances can be very habit forming—they also weaken your intestinal tract until you are unable to have a bowel movement without them. These should only be used under the supervision of a medical provider and even then, only as a last resort.
5. Learn pelvic floor exercises. If constipation is caused by a pelvic floor dysfunction, biofeedback therapy can be helpful. Learning to coordinate your pelvic floor muscles with your abdominal muscles can help improve your bowel movements. If you cannot find a physical therapist that offers biofeedback therapy, find a yoga teacher. Yoga can teach you to control your pelvic floor muscles and most yoga instructors can show you specific exercises to practice at home.
6. Get an abdominal massage. Although Mayan abdominal massage is a specialized massage technique that helps balance the internal organs, almost any licensed massage therapist is trained to perform abdominal massage. This can assist intestinal activity and help retrain the intestines to work properly.
7. Book an acupuncture appointment. Regular acupuncture treatments can help rebalance the body and correct the underlying imbalance that is causing the constipation to occur to begin with.
Constipation is defined as a prolonged period (three to five days) between defection where bowel movements are dry and/or hard to pass and usually accompanied by feelings of distention and/or fullness in the lower abdomen. If this condition is constant and continues longer than three months, the problem is considered chronic.
Everyone has occasional bouts of digestive upset—but under normal circumstances the body is able to rebalance itself relatively quickly.
If the problem becomes chronic, you should always seek medical advice to rule out any physical reasons or underlying medical issues. However, whether or not an underlying issue is found, it is never too early to start living a healthier lifestyle.
Remember, your health starts on the inside, so don’t let an annoying thing like constipation get the best of you!
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