Constipation & Food Sensitivity – Abdominal Distension & Bloating


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Constipation & Food Sensitivity

Backed up Bowels – The Battle with Constipation

How many times do you go to the washroom? Can you answer this question for a day, a week or a month? When people say “I go regularly” but only go once or twice in a week.  That’s not right, it’s not regular, you’re just constipated. In fact, the same can be said if you are going way too frequently throughout the day (five, ten times a day, and your stool is loose, watery – something like diarrhea or it’s popping out like rabbit pellets – painful and irritating).

Think of your body as a machine – which it is, a very intricate machine – you put food in and waste comes out. Now if you put food in three times a day (let’s not get into snacks) and no waste comes out that day, perhaps not the next or even the following day, now your body is filled with a day, two or three’s worth of food. This food is slowly rotting, releasing gas and decomposing in your body, pushing on your abdomen causing distention, discomfort and flatulence. Normal transit time is between 12-18 hours, this is calculated from the time you throw food into your mouth to the time you release stool. Some foods may take less time than others, fruit, for instance, will leave the body far quicker than a steak.

Think about what you have eaten in the past few days that may have contributed to this standstill. Moreover, think about those great washroom days and what you ate at that time.

Some great tips for having a pleasant bowel movement.

  • Drink water – slowly, and not so much that you feel sick. Pace yourself. Water should be your #1 go-to drink.
  • Fibre – beans, greens, and pectin fruit (blueberries, berries, black currants, apples, pears). Fibre will help to move your waste out. ***
  • Reduce Stress – If you are stressed you are in ‘Fight or Flight’ mode. AKA – your body has cut off power to your digestive system and it’s focusing its attention elsewhere. Be calm when you eat, and afterwards try to keep your stress at a minimum. 
  • When you have to go – GO – don’t be self-conscious, everyone goes poop. Literally everyone – human and animal. So when you get that feeling, go! It’s not good to keep holding it in. The more you hold it in, the more pressure is placed on the nerves that are connected between your bowels and your brain. Eventually, they will get exhausted and the signal will begin to fade or stop completely (it can be powered up again – though it takes a lot of work).
  • Excercise – walk or join a gym and take some classes, if you don’t like going to the gym gets some friends together, make a team and join a sporting club. Swimming is a great way to get your body into motion. Jump some rope, ride a horse, ride a bike, climb a mountain. Just move your body. 

*** Be careful with fibre supplements. If you are straining on your white throne to push out the smallest, hard pellet, throwing more fibre into your diet will not help as much as it will hinder. Instead look at foods that will coat the intestines, such as aloe vera or goldenseal (as a tea or tincture).

Food Sensitivity & Food Intolerance

Food Sensitivity: happens when IgA, IgG and IgM antibodies are prompted to a negative response by food, chemicals or bacterial toxins. The response is often delayed – by hours or days – symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract include – Nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, bloating, passing gas, stomach pain, cramping, heartburn, GERD, ulcers (to name a few – these symptoms can be attributed to something else).

Food Intolerance: Lack of enzymes to digest a specific food (Lactose Intolerance, Gluten Intolerance, and Fructose Intolerance are examples of not having enough enzymes in the body to digest a specific particle of food). Symptoms include; “loose stools, diarrhea, constipation, alternating between constipation and diarrhea, gas, bloating, cramping, indigestion, depression, sometimes belching, nausea and occasional vomiting” (page, 156).

It is good to pay close attention to what you eat and how you feel immediately, a few hours later and a few days later. Keeping a food journal of what you consume and how you feel emotionally and physically is a great way to close in on what foods may not agree with you.

References

Arranga, T., Underwood, L., & Viadro, C.I. (Eds). (2013). Bugs, Bowels, and Behavior. The Groundbreaking Story of The Gut-Brain Connection. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing.

Croxton, S., & Brooks, K. (2015). What Causes GERD, Constipation, and Reflux…And Natural Remedies that Work! Retrieved August 9, 2016, from The Digestive Sessions. 

Cutler, E. W., & Kaslow, J. E. (2005). Micromiracles: Discover the healing power of enzymes. United States: St. Martin’s Press.

Enders, G. (2015). Gut: The inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ. Australia: Scribe Publications.

Haas, E. M., & Levin, B. (2006). Staying healthy with nutrition: The complete guide to diet and nutritional medicine – Twenty-First-century edition (21st ed.). Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.

Holford, P. (2004). The optimum nutrition bible: The book you have to read if you care about your health. London: Piatkus Books.

Lipski, E. (2011). Digestive Wellness: Strengthen the immune system and prevent disease through healthy digestion, fourth edition (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing.

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