Constipation. Not a topic most of us enjoy talking about, but it’s likely something that we’ve all struggled with at some point in our lives. In fact, chronic constipation affects 15-30% of Canadians and is commonly found in young children and the elderly, occurring more frequently in females than in males.
Fortunately, when it comes to our gut health, constipation can offer us some clues as to what is going on inside.
So first off, what is considered constipation? This seems like a pretty straightforward question, however many people who come to see me, have been struggling with constipation but think that their bowel movements are normal. According to the oxford dictionary, constipation is defined as having difficulty emptying the bowels.
One factor that can contribute to this feeling of difficulty is transit time. Transit time is the duration between when food enters the mouth and when leftover waste finally passes out as stool. A meal can take anywhere from 12-72 hours to travel through the digestive tract. Each person is unique; what was eaten, gut bacteria, activity level, and water intake all play a role in the transit time.
Usually, before food enters the colon, most of the nutrients have been absorbed into the body and the colon’s role is to remove water. If someone has a long transit time, meaning food passes slowly through the colon, then the bowel has the opportunity to reabsorb more water, which hardens the stool.
However this transit time doesn’t tell the whole story.
Fact: How often you go doesn’t necessarily tell you whether or not you’re constipated.
You can have a bowel movement everyday or even multiple times a day and still be constipated. Alternatively, you could be going every other day but passing a satisfyingly good-sized stool easily, and therefore are not constipated.
So what factors contribute to constipation?
Supporting someone with chronic constipation should be done with an individualized approach as this is a complex, dynamic issue. Just as the each person is unique, so is their digestive function and the factors that affect it.
However there are a few things everyone can do to support digestive health;
Drink plenty of water – adults should aim for 2-3 litres (consider activity level, sweating, weather, etc.) Work up to this amount if you’re not used to drinking this much.
onstipation shouldn’t be a part of our everyday lives. It could be easily alleviated by following the above steps, or may be part of a bigger issue. If you or someone you know struggles with constipation, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified professional, like myself, who can support you by providing you with the tools overcome this issue for good!
In the meantime, check out the ‘Overnight Paleo ‘N Oats’ recipe;
It includes flax, chia, pumpkin & pomegranate seeds for a combination of soluble and insoluble fibre. Breakfast win!
Have a great week everyone!
Constipation (n.d). In Oxford dictionary. Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/constipation
Constipation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.badgut.org/information-centre/a-z-digestive-topics/constipation/
Kresser, C. (2013). The Paleo Cure. New York, NY: Little Brown and Company.
Ruscio, M. (2018). Healthy Gut Healthy You. Las Vegas, NV: The Ruscio Institute, LLC.