“Good health must be earned.”
That statement is truer today than any other time in history.
During our youth, the potential for a long, healthy life is often taken for granted. But by midlife, health challenges often begin to manifest.
Our living conditions today expose us to an ever-increasing load of toxins on a daily basis from our food, water and air. Even under the best of conditions, our toxic load is far greater than that of our parents and grandparents. Our bodies must work overtime to neutralize and eliminate these toxins.
Tragically, for the vast majority of our population, our digestive health is much less than optimal and our body’s ability to eliminate toxins in a timely and efficient manner is greatly impaired, leading to illness and disease.
In this brief article we will focus on the one avenue of elimination that is most common and problematic – the bowel.
Constipation as currently defined is a condition in which a person has fewer than three bowel movements per week. While this may be the medical definition of constipation, a person should ideally have two to three bowel movements daily.
Anything less is far from optimum and is the beginning of the pathway to illness and disease.
The Problem with Constipation
Constipation is more than just an annoying and uncomfortable issue. Here’s why.
1. It makes you absorb more toxins.
When the solid residue from food (the stool) passes into the large bowel, it should be eliminated quickly and efficiently (within 24 hours) to prevent this residue from rotting and creating additional toxins that may be re-absorbed from the colon.
2. It puts you in a bad mood.
And not for the reason you’d think! The bacteria on and in our body normally reside in harmony and provide essential functions.
Related: 10 Ways To Shake Off A Bad Mood
The gut bacteria transmit information to the brain via the vagus nerve. Our gut, as well as our brain, contains neurons. These neurons in the gut produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is linked to our mood.
3. It makes you more likely to fall ill.
Perhaps most importantly, approximately 70% of the cells that make up our immune system reside in our gut. The various species, strains and number of these microbes determine to a great extent how our immune system responds in any given situation.
This influence on our health may be greater than the influence of the genes we inherited from our parents. While the genes we inherit from our parents are more or less fixed, we have the potential to reshape and cultivate the bacteria in our gut.
A congested, sluggish colon may be the underlying factor in a poor immune response and the creation of inflammation leading to disease.
So, how do we unblock this system and unleash the healing power of the body?
How Constipation Happens
When the stool is retained for an excessive amount of time, too much water is re-absorbed from the stool, making it hard, dry and difficult to push out of the body.
2. Lack of dietary fiber.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is woefully deficient in fiber, which helps to keep you regular. Fiber comes from whole, unprocessed plant foods. Meat, dairy, white flour and white sugar are almost totally devoid of fiber.
3. Lack of physical activity.
Staying still will keep everything down there still as well. The sedentary lifestyle of most Americans inhibits bowel function.
As we age, our immune system is inhibited by a host of factors, and our innate self-healing is impaired. Most Americans by middle age end up on some various medications that can further inhibit bowel function.
How to Fend Off Constipation For Good
1. Drink more water!
The human body is approximately 70% water. We need approximately ½ ounce of high-quality water per pound of body weight daily to maintain proper hydration. That means that if you’re 150 pounds, you need 75 ounces of water per day.
Related: The Big Benefits Of Drinking Water
2. Ditch the caffeine.
Beverages containing caffeine dehydrate and acidify the body, increasing the amount of water you need to stay hydrated.
3. Eat healthier.
An automobile is designed to run on a certain type of fuel. If you put diesel fuel in a gasoline engine, it will not function as designed.
It’s undeniable: the human body was created to function most efficiently on a whole food, plant-based diet. Poor dieting habits will not supply nutrients and the fiber required by the body for timely and efficient elimination of toxins by way of the bowel.
4. Eat more fiber.
Fiber binds to toxins in the bowel to transport them from the body. Without adequate fiber, the stool will move very slowly through your body.
5. Get moving.
The human body was designed for daily physical activity. With today’s lifestyle, it is vital that a regular exercise routine be established to not only support optimum bowel movements, but the entire body.
A great starting point would be to work up to walking a mile in 15 minutes, with a goal of walking four miles in an hour at least five days of each week.
When you think of probiotics, you might think of yogurt. However, raw fermented vegetables are an excellent way of providing additional friendly microbes to the gut.
These raw fermented foods can easily be made at home. If they are not a regular component of your diet, consider supplementing with a good probiotic supplement.
An added fact: recently, a lab test of homemade sauerkraut revealed a probiotic count of 10 trillion, which dwarfs most of the probiotic supplements on the market.
As the immune system is restored and bowel function gradually improves, the need for medication is often minimized, allowing for better bowel function.
If you’ve been having issues with constipation, try these techniques, then enjoy the remarkable transformation that begins taking place. You should experience more energy that will encourage greater physical activity; better bowel movements that encourage timely and efficient elimination of toxins; and much improved health and quality of life.
Olin Idol, N.D., is Vice President of Health for Hallelujah Diet, a comprehensive, preventative system empowering people to take charge of their health by activating the body’s self-healing powers. He earned his ND degree from Trinity School of Natural Health, and is a Certified Nutritional Consultant (CNC) designation by the American Association of Nutritional Consultants.
Photo by sowenderful