Few things are as unpleasant as feeling the days go by, but the body doesn't flow! And when it finally does, the moment can quickly become frightening. We agree it might be an uncomfortable and unglamorous subject, but it's a real issue experienced by millions of men and women who understand the situation all too well.

Did you know that up to 80% of women worldwide may suffer from constipation? (1In the United States, it is believed that between 12% and 19% of the general population suffers from it. (2) In fact, millions of dollars are spent yearly on medical treatments and laxatives. It affects women more often when they are pregnant, after birth and during hormonal changes. It also increases with age for both sexes. When constipation becomes chronic, it completely deteriorates life.

The importance of evacuating on time

Imagine that you decide to leave some of your household trash on top of the kitchen container instead of throwing it out. The next day you do the same thing and every night leave a reserve of garbage that does not get eliminated. It wouldn't take more than a week for your entire house to smell disgusting, fill up with bugs and probably have the whole neighborhood asking you to move. The worst-case scenario is that the collected bacteria would then start affecting you and those inside your home. Something very similar occurs inside your body when waste becomes stuck, unable to come out.

A normal bowel movement is when we evacuate waste at least once a day, for everything to work properly. The toxins and substances left over from digested food need to be removed, once the different organs involved in digestion complete their job and absorb the nutrients.

Those remaining wastes, if left to deteriorate, can complicate our health in the not so long term. In addition, this stagnation is a further drawback to any weight loss attempts.

More than just accumulated garbage

Constipation and poor digestion are not only unpleasant and annoying because of accumulated weight. They have serious health effects:

  • Makes your skin opaque. Many times, the appearance of outbreaks or sudden acne are closely related to improper functioning of the intestines.

  • Foggy brain, confused emotions, excess weight and bad moods. Did you know that several ancient cultures and, even today, many scientists refer to the intestine as the ‘second brain?’ (3) It is closely connected to the brain we all know. In fact, there are studies that show that the state of the microbiota or intestinal flora largely determines our mood and behavior (4). Serotonin, for example, is a hormone that helps us feel good, produced both in the brain and in the intestines. Various investigations indicate that many problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and other psychiatric and neurological issues may be linked to changes in this "cerebral, digestive, and microbiotic" relationship. (5)

Why does constipation occur?

There are different types of factors that cause constipation - some physiological, psychological/social and external (6). For example:

  • Intestinal hypomotility: This complicated term means that the muscles of the intestines are too weak to contract in order to move and expel feces.

  • Hormonal changes alter the normal functioning of different processes within the body, including digestion.

  • Hemorrhoid-like lesions: Wounds that form around the rectal area are a consequence of constipation that in turn make it worse, since the pain makes the process more difficult. With time, it can become a serious problem.

  • There are also psychological and emotional factors, such as stress, that impact digestion.

  • In addition to social and cultural factors, that make facing this type of problem more difficult. Even talking about it at the doctor's office is uncomfortable. Especially for women, it also has a connotation of immodesty. Constipation is something that can and should be treated, as it is such a common problem that can further complicate health tremendously.

External causes are, without a doubt, the ones we have the most control over, because they are directly related to our habits. For example:

  • Lack of hydration: The intestines require enough liquid to meet its needs. No sugar necessary, so drink water or unsweetened tea.

  • Food and diet: 80% of good digestion has to do with what we eat. In the case of treating constipation, stay away from processed foods and simple carbohydrates.(7)

  • Physical activity has a significant influence on good digestion.

  • Medications such as painkillers, anxiolytics, blood pressure pills and antidepressants, among others, affect the proper functioning of the intestines.

How to improve digestion and decrease constipation?

  • Pay attention to your digestion. It may sound a little strange but analyze how much and how often you go to the bathroom. This will help you with the next step.

  • According to your digestion patterns, prepare the necessary conditions to go calmly, with no pressure and create discipline. For example, if you usually go in the morning, wake up with enough time to defecate. If you go in the middle of the day instead, try to take a break around noon and be at a comfortable place that allows you to go quietly.

  • Do not negate the impulse to go. It may not come at the right time at first, but still you should not hold back. Find the best option to give your body the time it needs.

  • Get moving. Exercise yourself. We don’t mean running full sprint or killing yourself at the gym. Walking just 30 minutes a day is enough to help you experience the difference.

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day if you are serious about good digestion.

  • Add high-fiber, low-sugar fruits like blueberries, plums, kiwis, apples and oranges. Include vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, asparagus, cabbage and broccoli, among other greens.

  • Add extra fiber with nopal, wheat bran, chia or flax seeds.

  • At night, add a spoon of magnesium to a glass of water until dissolved. You will see how it improves digestion among other things.

  • Increase the consumption of probiotics such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha or kefir to improve your gut microbiota.

  • Try triphala, a supplement originally from India, used in Ayurvedic medicine and currently taking Western science by storm. It is the combination of three fruits that promote the growth of intestinal flora, rejuvenate the intestinal tract and help with evacuation. (8,9)

Follow these tips so to help gradually and naturally improve the flow of your body. You will feel light, agile and happy!

Let's be healthier, together!

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