Friday, March 14, 2014

How to Get Things "Moving"

This blog post is not in regards to exercise... it is about constipation. This is one topic many people feel uncomfortable talking about, but it is incredibly important to discuss in terms of health, weight, and how good you feel physically.  As a dietitian, I discuss bowel movements (BMs) almost on a daily basis, so it is something that you should feel comfortable discussing with me.

I work with plenty of people who suffer from constipation. Usually, there is a good reason for it, and it can easily be resolved. There are a select few people who have serious gastrointestinal problems and no doctor can figure out why they suffer from it.

Constipation is typically defined as having less than three BMs per week. Ideally, if you are eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, you should most likely be going once per day, or at minimum, once every two days. It is okay to go twice per day, but any more than that could be a sign of a GI problem or a diet too high in fiber, which can cause malabsorption.

Having regular BMs keeps things moving through you to help prevent things like diverticulitis, but also limits the feeling of bloating that many with constipation suffer from.

Things that are important to include to keep you regular are as follows:

1. Eating enough! If you aren't eating a lot of food...there won't be a lot to pass through you.

2. A high fiber diet (at least 30 g/day). Fiber should be naturally occurring in foods, not fiber supplements. Always choose food before you choose a supplement. High fiber foods include whole grains (whole wheat flour, quinoa, oats, barley, wild rice, etc.), fruits, vegetables, and beans and nuts/seeds.

3. Drinking enough! If you don't drink enough water, a high-fiber diet can cause food to get stuck inside you. You need plenty of fluids, at least 64 fl oz of water every day.

4. Regular exercise- this gets the blood flowing which is important for peristalsis, or the contraction & relaxation of the intestines.

5. Probiotics. Probiotics are the bacteria in your intestines that help break down fiber and non-digestible food components. These come from cultured dairy (yogurt, kefir, buttermilk), fermented foods (kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut), and the dirt and germs from licking your hand or eating non-sanitized foods ;-)

If you are doing all of the five points mentioned above on a regular basis, you should be feeling good and pretty regular. However, if none of these works you can always try the "Kelly Cure to Constipation":

STEP #1: Eat at least 1 fresh-roasted beet
STEP #2: Drink 1-2 cups black coffee
STEP #3: Go for at least a 20 minute run

Make sure you complete steps 1-3 within an hour time period and you should experience the go afterwards (or maybe get the urge to go midway into your run...). I also always recommend consuming oat bran for breakfast for it's limitless health benefits, and the feedback in terms of BM's is quite positive for regular oat bran consumers. I can tell you that most runners do not have a problem with constipation, so if you suffer, you should probably pick this up as a new hobby.

NOTE: If you do the Kelly cure, please be advised that your bowel movement may be pink or reddish in color. Do not fret, this is normal. Beets can turn urine and even bowel movements a reddish hue.

Hopefully this helps to "clear" things up and get you moving! Good luck!

1 comment:

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