Constipation and How to Restore The Flow

Constipation and How to Restore The Flow

By Dr. Jason Dave, ND



Doctor’s Note

A new series featuring leading physicians who love plants as much as we do!



Frequently struggling to have a bowel movement? Well, you are not alone- up to a quarter of Americans also suffer from constipation (or not having a bowel movement for 3 days in most individuals). Even though it is a relatively common condition, it is important to realize that your gut is indicating to you that you need to change one or more of your lifestyle habits. 


Some symptoms of constipation include:

  • Passing fewer than 3 stools per week
  • Abdominal cramping and bloating
  • Straining to have a bowel movement
  • Having lumpy or hard stools
  • Angry or being irritable 

Common Causes Of Constipation

 

1. A diet low in fiber!

This is perhaps the most common cause for constipation! Generally speaking, fiber is found in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, whole grains and legumes. In particular, there are two types of fiber- insoluble and soluble.  


Insoluble fiber helps to promote bowel movements by adding bulk and weight to stools, which helps the muscles of your gut lining push your stool towards the exit. Some examples of insoluble fiber include flax seed, chia seed, pineapple, amaranth and quinoa.


Soluble fiber, on the other hand, absorbs liquid in the gut. This creates a gel-like texture that improves the consistency of your stool and helps it smoothly glide through the colon. Some examples of foods that are high in soluble fiber include psyllium husk, sprouts, marshmallow root and flax seed. 


There is yet another benefit of consuming fiber! Our beneficial gut bacteria directly feed on the fiber we consume in order to produce the magical substance scientists call short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). One of the functions of SCFAs is to promote gut motility (or the muscular contraction needed to propel intestinal content through the digestive tract during the digestion process). It does this in a unique way- by stimulating the nerves in the colon to produce contractions, it causes healthy movement and flow of stool out of the body.  


If you are having a hard time trying to get all the fiber in your diet- don’t worry! We’ve got you covered! Our delicious Pineapple Chia Cleanse is filled with all the soluble and insoluble fiber you need, as well as plenty of prebiotics and probiotics. These ingredients all work together to keep your digestive tract moving smoothly, eliminate harmful toxins, cut cravings and support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.


* Doctor’s Note- Adding a fiber-rich food can be a challenge to some people because it depends on the health of your gut microbiome (or the community of microorganisms in your gut such as good and bad bacteria). If you experience any bloating, try starting out with only one quarter to half a scoop of Pineapple Chia Cleanse with plenty of water or even in a smoothie. You will want to take it easy to start- increase fluids and physical activity to help move things along. If you experience constipation, try taking magnesium citrate which can also help.

 

2. Inactivity

Lack of physical activity may also contribute to constipation. Most Americans spend most of the day in a seated position. Sitting = no movement in your bowels! Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise each week to get your insides moving! Remember- your gut is muscle too, and needs to move like any other muscle in your body! So let’s move that body!

 

3. Taking certain medications

Side effects of certain medications can increase the risk of constipation. If you are taking any of these medications and are experiencing constipation, talk to your doctor about other options.

  • Opioid pain relief medications such as codeine, Dilaudid, Vicodin, Norco or OxyContin. 
  • Certain tricyclic antidepressants, such as Pamelor or Elavil  
  • Antacids that contain aluminum or calcium
  • Iron supplements, which treat iron deficiency anemia
  • Calcium channel blockers (such as diltiazem and verapamil), which are used to treat high blood pressure 
  • Medications that treat urinary incontinence, such as Detrol and Ditropan XL
  • Antihistamine medications such as Zyrtec, Allegra, Claritin, and Benedryl which treat allergy symptoms.

 

4. Impaired detoxification

Having chronic constipation for a long period of time can cause toxins from the stool to be reabsorbed back into our body- yuck! The buildup of these toxins can lead to negative effects on our body. It can cause weight gain, reduced nutrient intake, skin issues (such as acne), fatigue and poor immunity. Consuming optimal amounts of fiber helps to promote regular bowel movements, which eliminate waste and the toxins from the body. Without adequate amounts of fiber in our diet, these toxins begin to pool in our colon and get reabsorbed back into our body.


If you feel like your metabolism has been a bit sluggish of late, kickstart it with a juice cleanse or detox bundle to get those toxins out asap.

 

 5. Other causes

Besides the causes listed above, there may be other causes of constipation. If you have addressed the items above and are still experiencing constipation, talk to your doctor about identifying other causes such as:

  • Hormonal imbalances (such as hypothyroidism)
  • Frequent use of laxatives
  • Diabetes 
  • Stroke
  • Dehydration (drinking less than the daily recommended intake of 8 large glasses of water per day)

Don’t forget to check out some other great tips on how to improve digestive health in our blog: 10 Easy Ways to Naturally Improve Digestion.



By Dr. Jason Dave, ND

 

Doctor’s Note

A new series featuring leading physicians who love plants as much as we do!

For more SMART lifestyle tips like this, visit our other blogs at www.smartpressedjuice.com and follow us on Instagram or like us on Facebook. You can also visit our shop to stock up on our delicious juices.