A Naturopathic Doctor's Take on Constipation
I woke up this morning and realized I am full of… well, you know. And guess what? You might be too!
I watched the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” the other day and decided to embark on a smoothie healing extravaganza. I bought 4 bunches of organic kale, celery, cucumber, ginger, lemons and beets to make my own monster green smoothie! I decided to add some cashew cream in because my bossy (and brilliant) sister reminded me that our family has phase I detoxification mutations, which means that fasting or juicing is not a great idea for us.
I blended up my green monster smoothie, while fantasizing about buying a Vitamix, and was pretty pleased with the results. I was able to put in 2 whole beets and 2 bunches of organic kale. I even made beet chips for my kids, which they loved! So far, so good on the healing journey.
This morning, I hit a bit of glitch. Warning, it is about to get graphic. For those of you who eat beets regularly, you know that after about 12 hours, you are in for a bit of a shock when you visit the bathroom. I had warned my kids not to be alarmed if their urine or stool looked pink or red. I didn't need a frantic call from school with concerns about internal bleeding. After this very detailed conversation with my kids, I attended to my own morning routine. And I have to say, there was something missing. After over 12 hours, there was no sign of the beets making their impressive exit from my body. Uh oh!
I know as a Naturopathic Doctor, that bowel health is extremely important. Bowel transit time refers to how long it takes for the food to move from the mouth to the anus. Optimal transit time is 12-14 hours. Naturopathic doctors believe that every time we eat, we should poop. You should be having 2-3 bowel movements daily, shaped like a U or S and as long as your arm from wrist to elbow crease. Bowel movements should be easy to pass and shouldn’t be potent enough to smell up the whole house. There should be no undigested food (except corn) or copious amounts of gas.
A healthy digestive tract is important to support energy production, immune health, and to regulate inflammation. It is also the most essential detoxification organ. Your bowel is responsible for removing harmful chemicals, metals and toxins. Recent research through the Human Microbiome Project has identified that the microbes in our intestines are extremely important for human health, linking lack of good bacteria to many conditions including eczema, allergies, asthma, cancer, diabetes, obesity, autism and inflammatory bowel disease.
Bowel transit time is dependent of a few different factors; the type of food you eat, hydration, the amount of fiber in the diet and exercise. Transit time longer than 2 days can increase risk of cancer, diverticulosis and candida (overgrowth of yeast). If you are having a bowel movement every day, YOU CAN STILL BE SUFFERING FROM CONSTIPATION. Without doing a bowel transit test, if may take you until Saturday to eliminate that steak you ate on Tuesday night. Anything less than one bowel movement daily, will decrease your ability to remove harmful toxins.
I cannot stress enough the importance of a healthy bowel function. That is why I will be adding 2-3 TBSP of ground flax seeds to my green monster smoothies. I will also beef up my probiotic protocol and start my castor oil packs.
Prevention needs to be part of your daily plan. A new study out of the UK has identified that unhealthy lifestyle is lowering lifespan, and that our children may not live as long as their parents. You may feel you don't have time for prevention, but with breast cancer rates at 1 in 9 Canadian women, with the Cancer Societies prediction that 50% of children born in 2013 will develop cancer and with 1 in 3 kids having eczema, allergies or asthma; PREVENTION needs to start now. Good luck on your health journey!
Dr. Sonya Natural Care Clinic