Ever felt completely stressed out, tense, and irritated, only to realise later that you just really needed to do a poo?
Being constipated affects not only our physical wellbeing, but our mood, too and it is a surprisingly common problem that is rarely talked about. But when you have long term constipation, your gut (and probably your mood) is telling you that something needs to change.
As you read this, your body is working hard to:
Clear waste produced during its normal, healthy activities
Remove compounds (e.g. hormones) from circulation that have completed their tasks
Neutralise toxins that can harm your body, and
Fight off pathogens (infectious organisms) that could otherwise make you sick
Once it’s completed these tasks, the next step is to eliminate these unwanted substances. It does this by packaging them up and sending them to your intestines to be eliminated in your poo!
So, How Often Should You Poo?
As your digestive tract is one of the main avenues for removing waste from your body, it’s ideal to pass at least one well-formed stool daily; this ensures the efficient clearance of toxins from your body. Anything less than this, and you might be experiencing constipation.
For some, it may seem logical to simply take a laxative to move things along. Yes, laxatives can certainly help, however, they’re not addressing the underlying dysfunction that triggers constipation. Additionally, regular laxative use carries the risk of the bowel developing a dependence on them to pass a stool.
Addressing the true cause of constipation requires us to examine the health of the gut.
The Microbiome In Your Gut
Your intestinal microbiome is a living colony of 38 trillion beneficial bacteria, yeasts and fungi that work synergistically to keep your gut, immune system and entire body healthy. When it comes to bowel regularity, your microbiome plays two hugely important roles:
Converts the fibre from your food into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs regulate your gut motility as well as provide fuel for your gut cells, keeping your digestive system healthy. Insufficient fibre intake, or not having enough good gut bacteria, can cause low levels of SCFAs, decreasing gut motility and leading to constipation. In fact, research has shown that constipated patients have lower levels of SCFAs compared to those with diarrhoea.
Prevents pathogenic (bad) organisms from overgrowing in the gut. These unwanted organisms can trigger microbiome-disrupting inflammation, and also produce gasses such as methane, which slow gut motility. Together, these negative effects can produce constipation.
In order to remedy your microbiome issues and eliminate your constipation, there are two key ingredients you can call on.
Prebiotics Promote the Poo
The first ingredient to look for when restoring the microbiome to treat constipation are prebiotics such as those found in your fibrous foods (think broccoli stems, kiwi skin, green leafies). If this isn’t enough, partially hydrolysed guar gum (PHGG) is a great prebiotic. Research shows 5grams per day of PHGG to provide particular benefit to those with constipation, demonstrating the capacity to soften the stool, increase the weekly number of bowel motions, and decrease abdominal pain, straining with bowel motions, and laxative use.
Probiotics Move the Poo
The second ingredient is the probiotic. Probiotics are live, beneficial microbes that support the health of your gut and intestinal microbiome.
A primary action of probiotics, is to help the beneficial organisms within your microbiome to grow and flourish. This creates more good bacteria that then produce more SCFAs, which we now know is very useful for combatting constipation! Beyond this, certain probiotics can also produce antimicrobial substances that prevent pathogenic microbes from surviving within the gut, reduce inflammation within your digestive tract, and prevent pathogenic organisms from attaching to your gut lining.
Together, these actions result in increased stool softness, gut motility, and the feeling of complete evacuation whilst also reducing symptoms such as abdominal pain. The probiotic we choose will depend on what else is going on for you. Essentially, the more specific you can go, the better. Only choose a multi strained probiotic after antibiotic use. When you need to address a particular symptom such as constipation, come have a chat to us at Gisborne health Essentials or speak to your Naturopath or health practitioner.
Did you know…if you’re struggling to maintain a regular toilet schedule, it’s natural that you start to feel a tad grumpy.
A significant portion of the body’s serotonin – known as the happy hormone – is produced in the gut. So when your bowel movements are off kilter, your mood will be too. All the more reason to get things moving!