I want to live in a world where the topic of poo is a relevant, enjoyable and empowering conversation for women - particularly because it plays such a huge role in hormonal & digestive vitality! Unlike boys and men, its a bit taboo for females to talk about their toilet trouble. Though talking about poo may make you feel uncomfortable or dirty, mastering your elimination will lead to glowing skin, healthy guts and happy hormones - and what woman doesn't want THAT?
Almost every woman I work with has this crazy notion that chronic constipation and diarrhea is "normal." Many of my clients admit that they've never even discussed bowel movements with their doctors because they didn't think it was that important.
The consistency, frequency and quality of your bowel movements is a massive indicator of your overall health.
If you aren't eliminating at least once a day, or your running to the toilet after every meal, these are signs of poor gut health.
On one hand, chronic constipation leads to high levels of toxicity. It's pretty simple - when your waste doesn't leave the body, it is reabsorbed back into the bloodstream. It's like picking last week's scraps out of the bin & eating them today - not a great idea. If left in the colon for too long, bad bacteria can proliferate and cause gut dysfunction. You want to evacuate those bad boys before they can reek havoc in your body.
On the other hand, chronic diarrhea can lead to nutrient deficiencies. When things move too fast through your digestive tract, the body has no time to absorb the nutrients in your food. The body requires a lot of nutrients in order to carry out the many tasks that keep you alive and healthy. Your detox organs such as the liver, kidneys and colon all need nutrients in order to function optimally. A lack of nutrients will make you feel fatigued, flat & unfocused (among other things), while also leading to serious illness.
Bloating is a sign of excess gas, and chronic gas is a sign of bacterial overgrowth in the gut. Gas is a function of the body needing to release built up toxicity. Regular gas and bloating are signs you should NOT ignore. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take these symptoms seriously before they become bigger, badder, and bolder problems.
There is 5-10 pounds of waste in your body at any given moment - that’s a lot of toxicity that needs to be removed on a regular basis!
So let’s talk practical steps, shall we?
1. CREATE ROUTINE
The body functions better when it’s being fed and moved on a consistent schedule. Routine helps trigger the bowels. If you're one to skip meals or travel a lot, you'll likely struggle with regular bowel movements. Treat yourself like a baby or a puppy who requires a schedule in order to thrive. Make sure to eat throughout the day, get regular movement & follow similar daily patterns to the best of your ability. If you travel often and lack routine, its important to stay consistent with an eating schedule. All that sitting in planes, trains and automobiles can also create stagnation in your gut so be sure to take walks and move your body afterward.
2. USE THE SQUATTY POTTY
If you've ever traveled to Asia you know that their toilets are less like thrones and more like gutters. This is because squatting is more comfortable and effective for proper elimination. You can easily purchase a "squatty potty" stool for your home bathroom. The stool is designed to prop your knees up and elevate your legs for better anatomical alignment. This simple realignment is safer and more natural for the colon. With the help of the squatty potty, your days of straining and discomfort are over! You can look forward to easier and more complete elimination.
3. INCREASE FRUIT INTAKE
When I ask my chronically constipated clients how much fruit they eat, they often blink in silence. The body requires dietary fiber in order to eliminate waste, and fruit in particular is full of the water & fiber needed to support elimination. Fiber helps to bulk up stool and water helps to move it through the digestive tract. Some of my favorite fruits for a satisfying bowel movement are kiwi, papaya, melon, and mango. Aim for 2 pieces of whole fruit every day and your body will thank you!
4. STAY HYDRATED
It's important to understand that once you've increased your fiber intake, you MUST increase you water intake. Fiber can only work its magic with the help of fluid. The body needs fluid in order to flush toxins out. Chronically hard and stuck stool is a function of internal dryness & dehydration. Starting your day with 1-2 glasses of warm water with lemon is a great way to get things moving before any food goes in your mouth. It also helps to flush out toxins that were being processed overnight. You don't have to overdo it with the water, simply aim for 7-8 glasses a day and your digestion will improve.
5. MASSAGE YOUR BELLY
Women hold a lot of tension in their core (hello chronic sucking in & stress) that can create tightness in their gut. A tense gut is not ideal for elimination. Gently massaging the belly with coconut or castor oil clockwise around the belly button, once a day, can help to loosen the tension and encourage peristalsis (the body's natural mechanism for pushing out waste). Try massaging with moderate pressure for 10 minutes first thing in the morning or whenever you're feeling constipated. This doubles as a wonderful act of daily self-care.
6. PRACTICE YOGA
Our fast paced, stressful lifestyles play a huge role in our digestive dysfunction. That's why yoga has the two fold ability to calm our nervous system and gently massage the digestive organs. Movement of any kind is super important when it comes to healthy bowels, but yoga helps reduce stress hormones and puts us in a our "rest and digest" nervous system. The more we can activate this system, the better our digestion will function. Practicing yogic twists & inversions will increase oxygen and blood flood while supporting the activation of peristalsis.
7. STRESS LESS As I mentioned, stress is the #1 party pooper when it comes to healthy digestion & hormonal balance. When you're stressed, your entire body goes into survival mode. The "rest and digest" system shuts down in order to run from the metaphorical tiger. When you're running from danger the body does not prioritize digestion, which is actually an incredibly intelligent mechanism. However, we aren't running from the tiger once in a while, we're running every day! Factor in this chronic stress and you have yourself a recipe for disrupted guts. It's so important to utilize stress-management tools on a daily basis, not just when you've totally burnt out. Conscious breathing, yoga, meditation & earthing are some of my favorite ways to relax the body. Making these practices a non-negotiable part of your day will enhance not just your digestion but every area of your life!