If your answer is yes, you’ve got a lot of company – over 4 million “friends” in the US alone!
In fact, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint, responsible for over 2.5 million annual doctor visits and over $725 million of spending on laxatives each year.
What is constipation?
The medical definition is having fewer than three bowel movements per week. However, most natural and holistic health practitioners suggest we should have 2-3 bowel movements per day for optimum health. I often hear people say, “I go 2-3 times per week, and that’s ok because that is what is normal for my system.” But think about this: Just because something is normal for your system, does that mean it is what is best for your body?
What is happening in your colon while the waste matter is waiting to be eliminated? By Friday, Tuesday’s burger isn’t so nutritious any more. As it sits, it can become toxic, upsetting the balance of bacteria in the colon and releasing harmful toxins into your bloodstream, affecting other systems of the body as well. Frequent constipation can be responsible for abdominal bloating and pain, fatigue, brain fog, headaches, skin problems, joint pain, and even more serious health conditions.
So why are so many people constipated?
A number of factors contribute to constipation, and often there is a combination of factors at play. The most commonly stated causes are dehydration, lack of fiber, lack of exercise, some medications and “ignoring the urge”.
- The standard recommendation for daily intake of water is half your body weight in ounces, so if you weigh 140 pounds, you need 70 ounces of water each day. Add more for exercise and if you drink diuretic beverages such as coffee, tea or alcohol.
- Eat at least 5 cups of fresh fruits and vegetables per day in a form as close as possible to the way they come from the earth, and limit your intake of processed foods. This ensures a diet high in fiber and natural water content.
- Exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes per day 5 days per week, with at least 2 days of resistance exercise. Exercise increases circulation and diaphragmatic breathing and relieves stress.
- Medications that may cause constipation include pain relievers, anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, iron supplements, some high blood pressure medications, some antacids and more. If you take one of these medications and suffer from constipation, contact your healthcare provider to discuss alternatives.
- When you’ve got to go, by all means go! Have you ever played host to the “I don’t have time for that right now” voice? Not high enough on the priority list? Just like you make time for breakfast or working out, it’s important to make time for your daily movements, especially in the morning. I make sure to give myself 2 hours of awake time before I have to leave the house in the morning.
Another important often overlooked cause that contributes to constipation: STRESS!
- Tune in to your abdomen. Do you sense a free flowing river or New York City rush hour grid lock? Tension held in the abdominal cavity can constrict the natural motility of the digestive organs necessary to move the food along its tract. Awareness is a key first step.
- Are you breathing? Stress can lead to shallow breathing. Practice taking full breaths with the diaphragm moving down into the abdominal cavity as the lungs fill. It’s like giving yourself a massage from the inside out!
- Fight or Flight? Or Rest and Digest? Stress puts us into the Fight or Flight mode, activating the sympathetic nervous system and deactivating the parasympathetic nervous system. Taking time and awareness to sit in a relaxed state with our foods stimulates the Vagus nerve, the main nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system, to innervate the digestive system organs to begin peristaltic movement, secrete digestive juices and open the GI sphincters.
All of these recommendations, including the management and release of stress, can greatly improve your digestion and elimination habits. Sometimes these lifestyle changes can take a while to implement and take effect. Meanwhile, it’s important to remove the toxic buildup that has been accumulating in your system. One popular solution we offer at NIHA is colon hydrotherapy.
How Colon Hydrotherapy Can Help Constipation
Colon hydrotherapy provides a safe alternative to the $725-million common solution of laxatives. Some laxatives can have harmful side effects and with consistent use can lead to dependency and decreased bowel function, especially the harsh stimulant laxatives that stimulate muscle contractions to expel stool.
Colon hydrotherapy, also known as colonics, is a safe, effective method of eliminating waste from the large intestine without the use of drugs. During a session, warm purified water is introduced into the colon, and the waste is softened and loosened, resulting in evacuation through natural peristalsis. Most people claim feeling lighter, mentally clearer and more energetic after just one colonic treatment!
Some people feel uneasy about the thought of colon hydrotherapy, but most people feel so much better after a treatment, they can’t believe they waited so long to try it! If you have questions about the procedure and would like to discuss whether colon hydrotherapy is right for you, please contact us at NIHA for more information.
We have a mantra in the colon hydrotherapy field: "better out than in!" Don’t let constipation, bloating and gas drag you down. “Unfriend” the 4 million and put the pep back in your step today!