Wellness Blog

Constipation...Real Answers

Posted on February 2, 2016 at 2:40 AM

Constipation…Real Answers

Beyond being an uncomfortable problem, lack of adequate elimination also offers opportunities to negatively impact health. Bowel toxemia is a phrase associated with infrequent elimination. When waste debris remains in the bowel, increased risk of reabsorption of toxins becomes a concern. Basically, the body will start to reabsorb that same materials it is trying to evacuate. Having compromised liver function compounds probabilities of toxic waste being found in higher amounts in the colon.

Several toxins are produced in the colon. These include byproducts of amino acid metabolism, such as histamine, tryptamine, cadavarine, phenol, indole, skatole and hydrogen sulphide. Methylmercury is formed during the liver’s attempt to detoxify mercury, and also ends up in the colon. Ammonia is produced from every cell in the body as the result of normal metabolism processes. A healthy person efficiently excretes this toxin normally found in the body.

Picture the bowel system as a flowing river. When things are moving at a normal flowing pace elimination of toxins is easily completed. Proper pH and a healthy balance of gut flora (good bacteria) are essential to maintaining a healthy large intestine. Diets high in animal protein cause an alkaline environment in the colon, making it sluggish. Most importantly, this alkaline environment suppresses growth of important gut friendly bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. This in turn encourages increased production of “bad” bacteria connected to poor gut health and numerous chronic health conditions. These conditions include arthritis, autoimmune diseases, colon and breast cancer, psoriasis, eczema, cystic acne and chronic fatigue.

We should strive for a slightly acidic colon environment. Diet rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates create a slightly acidic pH, encouraging the growth of L. acidophilus. Besides the connection between Lactobacilli and anti-cancer activity, good bacteria (L. acidophilus and Bifidobacteria) have the ability to synthesize antimicrobial substances, such as lactic acid, acetic acid, benzoic acid, hydrogen peroxide and natural antibiotics.

A first step in creating a healthy bowel is to eliminate any food allergens. Dairy products are often the constipation catalyst for those suffering life-long constipation. Refined grains also pose issues, as the important fiber has been removed. For those with IBS with constipation, only pseudo-grains and sprouted grains should be consumed. However, dairy and coffee remain the two most frequent causes of chronic constipation.

The two most important factors in moving things along through the bowel are water and fiber. Water intakes should be high enough to translate into a bathroom break every 1 to 1.5 hours. The actual amount of water intake to meet this goal will vary from person to person depending on their physical activity, size, weight, and even the season of the year.

Fiber is easily increased in the diet by including brown rice, oat bran, fresh fruits and vegetables, dried figs and prunes, raw nuts and seeds (including flax seeds), lentils, peas and dried beans. While lentils do not require soaking, beans should be soaked (overnight), water discarded, and fresh water used in cooking. Pectin fiber will bind to eliminating heavy metals, toxins, cholesterol and bile acids helping to eliminate them from the bowel system. Foods providing a good source of pectin include apples, carrots, beets, bananas, cabbage, citrus fruits, dried peas and okra.

For some people dietary fiber is not enough to avoid chronic constipation. Typically in these cases not enough high fiber foods are eaten or tolerated. Then it may be necessary to add a fiber supplement. There are a variety of types available and experimentation may be needed to find the best one for your system. Fiber types include mucilages (such as psyllium), pectins, hemicellulose (like oat bran) and lignans (as found in flax seeds). PLEASE NOTE: people suffering chronic constipation may worsen their condition by using psyllium.

Quick tips:

Lack of adequate exercise, poor diet and low water intake play roles in constipation.

In the morning, before getting out of bed, gently massage the abdomen in a clockwise motion. This encourages the normal flow of stool toward the rectum. After rising, drink at least eight ounces of warm (not tepid) water to stimulate the gastrocolic reflex. This reflex triggers signals which then stimulates mass peristaltic movements (large intestine flexes needed for movement of contents).

Walking for 15-20 minutes after each meal will also stimulate a healthy bowel movement time.


Donovan P: Bowel toxemia permeability and disease: new information to support an old concept. In Pizzorno J, Murray M (eds): Textbook of Natural Medicine (ed 1), Seattle, 1985, John Bastyr College Publications.

Pizzorno LU, Pizzorno Jr JE, Murray MT: Irritable bowel syndrome, Textbook of Natural Medicine (ed 3), 2006, Churchill Livingston.

Yarnell E: Constipation. Naturopathic Gastroenterology, Arizona, 2000, Naturopathic Medical Press, p281

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