by Dr. David Minkoff October 15, 2015 5 min read
A bowel movement, properly considered, actually starts with your first bite. When you swallow your food, it goes down the esophagus and into your stomach. Here your food churns around for two to four hours until it is broken down into a soupy mush called chyme. The chyme is then gradually squeezed out of the stomach and through a long, coiled tube—the small intestine. Here the mashed food that you’ve eaten gets absorbed into the bloodstream. The leftover waste (remnants of the food that your body can’t use) goes on to the large intestine (colon).
In the colon, the body gets a last chance to absorb water and some minerals into the blood. The leftovers are combined in your colon, packed together, and partially dehydrated. As water leaves the waste product, what’s left gets harder and harder as it keeps moving along, until it becomes a solid. What remains—our feces—consists of water, indigestible fiber, undigested food (such as small seeds), sloughed-off dead cells, living and dead bacteria, intestinal secretions, and bile.
Your first bowel movement should take place in the morning when you wake up or soon after you have had breakfast. Typically, you should experience the urge for a bowel movement 20-30 minutes after you eat. The other bowel movements should be during the day. If you eat two or three meals a day and have one bowel movement, then the second and third meal are backing up in your colon, staying there too long and, over the long haul, inviting disaster from toxicity.
Constipation has many dangers and side effects. When the bowels are not regularly pushing waste out, the entire digestive system can become backed up and unhealthy. Waste stays in our bodies longer, and becomes sticky and hardened along the intestinal wall, and, overtime, starts to fester and enlarge intestinal pores, letting toxins enter our blood stream. Constipation also causes strain during bowel movements, resulting in Diverticula, outgrowths that form along the walls of the colon. Food and waste can be stuck in these, causing them to become infected. If they burst, deadly toxins can be released into the body.
Colon cancer also seems to be linked to those with diets low in fiber and high in processed foods, sugar, and fat. Although there are also genetic causes, the correlation between those with less frequent bowel movements and poor diets and colon cancer is hard to ignore. And there is no debate that constipation is directly linked to dysbiosis and Leaky Gut Syndrome. If the intestinal pores become enlarged and food particles leak in the body will attack. This condition is called Leaky Gut Syndrome, and the attack is linked with allergies, bodily discomforts, lupus and asthma.
Autointoxication, a condition in which the body poisons itself over and over again, is also a result of constipation. Autointoxication occurs when the stasis in the bowels allows waste build up to become a breeding ground for harmful, waste-secreting bacteria and parasites, and a host of toxic chemicals. These harmful substances enter the blood and are carried throughout the body, where they lower the immune system, promote the overgrowth of Candida, a fungus, cause nervousness, depression, skin disorders, headaches, fatigue, muscle weakness and an endless list of disease and illness.
With these problems in mind, it should be no wonder that constipation and poor colon health are thought by some experts to be one of the major causes of death and disease. The digestive system is one of the most complex bodily systems, and a very delicate one. Within our colon, tiny microorganisms live and maintain balance between the bad bacteria, fungi, and molds that enter our digestive systems through our food.
These bacteria are tiny intestinal flora that protect our bodies from the overgrowth of harmful substances. They even help us break down and absorb plant nutrients. But, if you become constipated and backed up, it is safe to say that this delicate balance within the lower intestine and colon has been upset. It may be because of antibiotics, a poor diet, or both. Constipation is a symptom of poor colon health, as much as it is a breeding ground for more disease and illness. For this reason, constipation should be taken very seriously, and its causes should be avoided.
Regular evacuation of your bowels is essential for being healthy, for maintaining ideal weight (or getting down to it), and for having clear, youthful skin. For more on that, read my article: The Straight Poop.
So what if you can’t go? What do you do?
There are some quick remedies, some of which you’ll already aware of. Eating prunes. Drinking cabbage or carrot juice. A tablespoon of raw honey—which offers laxative properties—thrice daily. These remedies will likely relieve symptoms. But you should start getting to the root of the problem.
If constipation occurs other than very rarely, you’re almost surely eating wrong. Your remedy here: raw foods. Vegetables and fruits. Go raw or close, and you’ll get all the fiber you’ll ever need, plus (inside those fruits and vegetables) a great supply of the best water there is—biologically active water.
If you’ve ever spent more than a couple of days in a hospital bed, you’ll know they start handing you stool softeners. Why? Because inactivity causes all that digested food to build up inside. It’s the motion imparted to your bowels by your moving about which “massages” the bowels and gets that food moving through. And there is no exercise more effective or natural than yoga.
You also need to give your digestive system a complete rest once in a while, so it has a chance to heal itself. There’s only one kind of complete rest for the digestive system: fasting.
If you’re already pretty thin, fasting sounds genuinely scary. Consider what one correspondent wrote to me when I suggested fasting as a solution to constipation: I do like a mini fast now and again. Right now I don’t eat till noon, then drink green juice and have a raw meal at night. I’m pretty underweight at the moment, so a full-on fast seems kinda scary—when I do fast, it makes me weak and dizzy…
If you feel weak and dizzy while fasting, this is a likely indication that your body is toxic. And if you’re constipated at the same time, that weak, dizzy feeling may well derive directly from impacted stool.
Here’s the tough part: You’ve got to be willing to endure a little discomfort now for greater results later. It’s understandable. We want it now and easy. We don’t want to feel “weak and dizzy.” We want immediate results. And we want the symptoms to go away. But to gain real health, you have to go through a detox process as you heal, so later you’ll get truly, deeply healthy. So yes, early on you may feel a tad weak, may feel a faint, generalized kind of dizziness. I suggest you just try to deal with it—good things are coming.
If a day long fast doesn’t appeal to you, extend your night rest. Eating at night isn’t a good idea. The circadian rhythms govern our body’s workings. To become and stay healthy, we need to eat according to those rhythms. Try eating in the morning, instead. Go to bed on an empty stomach (at least 3 hours after eating), giving your digestive system its needed nightly rest. I believe it’s the best anti-aging program. Try it and see for yourself.
If you read the children’s book “Everybody Poops”, then you know that what goes in must come out. Since most people eat 3 or 4 times a day, it is natural to poop at few times a day. Certainly at least once or twice. So if you are not going regularly, give some of these remedies a try. And if that doesn’t help, consult your physician.
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by Dr. David Minkoff
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