In the past couple of months, I’ve had a few different conversations about poo. I have a coworker who is so plagued by constipation that his usual lunch routine is to sit at his desk and eat prunes. This should not be standard behavior for a 26-year-old male. Another friend of mine, a woman in her thirties who is generally healthy and active, turned to over-the-counter laxative for help with her poo problems, but stopped using them because she said they made her feel like she was a step away from becoming bulimic. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, Americans spend more than $700 million on laxatives every year. Clearly, we have poo problems.
I’m going to tell you a very important secret: There are a lot of things, like constipation, that we often write off as “normal” or attribute to the natural aging process. But these things are not normal. They may be very common, yes, but that doesn’t mean they are just a part of life that we should learn to deal with. If you eat a healthy diet, you can avoid constipation and many other common health problems.
Constipation doesn’t just leave you feeling bloated and crappy. If you’re backed up, your body can’t eliminate toxins and waste products — they can get reabsorbed into your bloodstream, which can make you feel even worse. So it’s important to have a bowel movement at least once a day. Ideally, you should go to the bathroom after every meal. Healthy stool should be soft but not “loose” (think somewhere between the consistency of peanut butter and a banana). You should not have to strain, and your poo should not smell so bad that it would evacuate a public restroom.
If you’re having problems pooing, the first thing you should probably look at is how many servings of fruits and vegetables you are eating. You should get at least 7 servings every day, and plant compounds should be a part of every meal. You’re probably eating too much bread, meat, and processed foods. Stop eating grain-based breakfasts and start making smoothies with spinach, which will definitely get things moving in the morning. And be sure to drink lots of water.
If you still have problems, magnesium can be a very effective natural constipation remedy. Most people are deficient in this important mineral, which is needed for many different processes in the body. Magnesium deficiencies have been linked to heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, kidney stones, muscle pain, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other health problems. Magnesium helps relax muscles, including the muscles of the bowel. You can try magnesium pills or, for a more powerful laxative, buy some magnesium citrate (a liquid form). There are also transdermal magnesium products that are applied like a lotion and absorbed through the skin.
Your poo can tell you a lot about your overall health. To learn more, check out What’s Your Poo Telling You?
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