Everyone does it. We just don’t usually speak about it in polite company. For being such a vital function for our well-being, we don’t say too much about it. Poo. The complex processing of food includes production of saliva, breaking down food with acids and bile, production of enzymes, and the intestines separating and absorbing vital nutrients from the portion of foods that will become waste. When this function isn’t happening on a regular basis the effects are seen throughout our body – everything from discomfort and a bloated belly to acne or poor skin luster to bad moods and headaches.
What kind of poo is normal and healthy? One to two bowel movements per day, formed in one piece, and easy to pass with no discomfort or strain. Outside of this and you may be constipated.
If you’re constipated, adding more vegetables and fiber-rich foods is absolutely useful and necessary. A beautifully-written book, “Healing with Whole Foods,” by Paul Pitchford, states: “Fiber is beneficial in curing and/or preventing appendicitis, colon cancer, diverticulosis, constipation and hemorrhoids. It encourages healthy bacterial growth in the colon, which aids in assimilation of nutrients and the formation of cancer-resistant bowel acids. While taking pure fiber can have therapeutic results in extreme cases, the most balanced approach is to eat a variety of different types of fiber in the form of whole vegetal foods. Eating a variety of fiber-rich foods will also booster your immunity and the lung/colon function in general.”
If you’re constipated, there are two things that you can do to help yourself:
1.) Eat more whole food (foods that are minimally processed) that are rich in fiber. Some fiber-rich categories are beans, berries, peas, nuts, green leafy veggies, and whole grains (grains not processed). Rhubarb is a common herb that we use in formulas to aid constipation. It’s beautifully powerful. Adding it to your diet can be helpful for those rare times when you may need help.
2.) Adding magnesium to your diet through magnesium-rich foods can also aid your body. While there are many magnesium-rich foods, a magnesium supplement can be very beneficial. Start with the recommended dose. You can increase the dose a little every 3 – 4 days until your stools start to pass easier. Magnesium works on muscles, and constipation can largely be a muscle issue. (Magnesium is also good for other muscle issues – aches, pains, restless legs.) Many of the foods listed above are also rich in magnesium.
In upcoming posts, I’ll write a bit about other reasons that you may be constipated, and when simply adding more fiber doesn’t help you to go.