Constipation can be a real killer and leaves you feeling tired, lethargic, often with stomach pain, trapped or excessive wind, bad breath, spots and feeling generally like crap.
This is because your body is full of all the toxins in the waste material that need to be released from the body in the form of a bowel movement each morning. The body doesn’t want to carry this around all day and so provides you with some or all of the above symptoms to encourage a bowel movement. Not always easy when you struggle with constipation. Or IBSC as it is sometimes referred to.
In the early years of The IBS Coach I worked with a client who hadn’t been for a natural bowel movement for 32 days! She had to be rushed to hospital in the end. This is the most severe case of IBSC that I have ever encountered and as you can imagine she was in agony. Within 48 hours on our Be IBS Free program she was having normal bowel movements and continues to be able to move her bowels much more freely, even now four years later.
Constipation used to affect me and was my number one problem with my own IBS from birth up until my late twenties when I decided I really needed to do something about it. I am now 46 and have my IBSC under control 90% of the time. I allow myself a 10% leeway so that every now and again I can eat what I want and not feel guilty about it. Because with these top 5 tips I can easily get my bowel moving again.
Top 5 Tips For Constipation
Tip 1 Water
The main problem that I find with myself and my clients when constipation occurs is dehydration. The bowel is the first part of the body to become dehydrated when we don’t drink enough water or drink too many caffeinated drinks. The body deems the bowel an unnecessary function of the body in terms of keeping all our other organs ticking along, such as our heart, brain, lungs etc. so it moves any excess water from the bowel to these other organs in order that we can continue to breath, move blood around our bodies and think, to a degree.
So, first things first, have you drunk enough water today? How much caffeine have you consumed? Have you done any exercise where you have been sweating? Did you have one too many last night?
All of these things can contribute towards being dehydrated and the bowel is the first place to be affected. Without enough water in the body the intestines cannot push the food around effectively and the colon cannot move the waste towards escape through your anus. So, check your water intake for the day and make a concerted effort over the next three days to have one glass extra.
We should be aiming for a minimum 8 glasses a day (or 2 litres) with a maximum of 3 caffeinated drinks. Depending on your body size and activity level you should not consume more than 3.5 litres a day. See our article on how much water you should really drink for more information.
Tip 2 Raw Food
A good healthy raw salad is fun of natural enzymes which need little effort from the body to be broken down into waste material. Digesting food is one of the most taxing things our bodies have to do each day in terms of energy, and when energy is low already from carrying around unwanted waste materials this is the last thing you want to be putting your body through.
My top raw salad will contain beetroot and avocado as these are two of the best superfoods for good digestion, and I always like to include raw spinach for blood boosting iron and bone strengthening calcium. This recipe is one of my favourites and so easy to make.
So, once you have rehydrated yourself treat your gut to a nice raw salad, with no meat or fish, just raw salad vegetables. You could sprinkle on some organic unprocessed nuts, providing you do not suffer with a nut allergy, or seeds. Seeds often help scrape waste through the digestive tract and although take a bit more effort in terms of digesting these can often be beneficial for moving old stuck waste matter. just be careful with seeds if you struggle with Diverticulitis as these can get stuck in your ‘pockets’ causing inflammation and cause you even more pain. You might ind this article useful in terms of the rate of digestion.
Tip 3 Movement For Movements!
Exercise is key for healthy bowels, This can be a little daunting when you have that feeling of wanting to go to the toilet but being unsure if you are actually going to have any success, however there are plenty of things you can do at home, near the bathroom so that when you get the urge you are ready to go.
I find gentle stretching can really help on and off the toilet. Lying on my front and gently lifting my legs and chest really puts an extra bit of pressure on the stomach and can stimulate a movement. The Cat/Cow position can also really help to promote good blood flow to the stomach and encourage tired muscles to get to work. For more info on yoga at home, check out Lisa Cuerden’s YouTube videos. She is one of my favourite teachers and has a great selection of videos for you to try. Read the disclaimer before trying anything new, you may be better off going to see a yoga teacher to get help wiht getting gin the right position if you have never tried yoga before.
If you live in a house with stairs the a few strips up and down the stairs focusing on good posture can sometimes be enough to get things moving. If I get really stuck, which can happen, I often do a few circuits of the house going up and down stairs for 20 minutes. This really works up a sweat and stimulates the lymph system, which in turn can help to encourage the body to get rid of uncomfortable waste build up.
This is so good for constipation and one of my favourite things to do. Running is my go to exercise for everything, It gives me time to think, time to process, helps with my creativity, helps me to work through problems and makes me feel really free. I don’t run every day, just when I really feel the need to. Running really stimulates the whole body and the bouncing movement is great for sluggish bowels.
If you struggle with IBSD as well as IBSC then be sure to take some essentials with you such as a bag and toilet tissue if you are out in the countryside – and don’t be afraid to take the call of the wild! If you have got to go, you have got to go. I am not afraid to admit that on the odd occasion I have had to go to the loo in the woods. Luckily I had a poo bag in the car from my friends dog walks and some tissue which I put in the bag and took home. Please do not litter, IBS or not! Obviously this is not an ideal situation but holding your bowels can result in yet more pain and more constipation. And this is what we are trying to avoid.
If you feel you need to stick closer to home until your IBSC/D is more under control then Mayne running on the spot, running around the garden or jumping jacks may be more suitable for the time being. Until you are more confident with your bowels.
Tip 4 Raw Juice
I have a recipe for the best raw juice which works every time! If you have a juicer this is better as the ingredients are absorbed by the small intestine and the bowel is stimulated by the influx of nutrients.
1 x Carrot, 1 x Apple, 1 inch of peeled Ginger, juiced.
It is so simple but so effective. The ginger is really hot and always works for me. Only about 1% of my clients over the past 5 years have been intolerant or allergic to ginger, so if you know it doesn’t agree with you, try swapping this out for 1 x raw beetroot and add a bit of fresh red pepper into the mix.
This recipe usually has me ready to move my bowels just after drinking it, however I have been working on my own IBSC for 15+ years so my bowel is very rarely blocked in the first place. It is one of the reasons I started Glorious Food as by helping other people with their IBS problems, it reminds me on a daily basis how important it is to look after my own body
Tip 5 Coffee
As an absolute last resort and ONLY when you are sure you have rehydrated your body one the course of the day, if nothing has shifted then a cup of black coffee, no sugar, no cream can really help to get those bowes moving. I am a little intolerant of coffee so I only use this option when absolutely necessary. However it does work. I usually make a coffee from coffee grounds if I am expecting this to work on my bowels. Instant doesn’t seem to have the same effect and also contains more chemicals. So if you can get hold of freshly ground black coffee then go for it. Just be near a toilet as this seems to have an almost instant effect on me.
If you drink coffee regularly this may not work unless you have an empty stomach. Maybe when you wake up, drink a pint of water, wait 20 – 30 minutes, if no bowel movement happens then make yourself a strong black coffee and wait another 20 – 30 minutes. This should be enough to get anything moving.
Every Woman Deserves To Be IBS Free!