On Sunday, Drew, Maxwell, + I were hanging out + watching the US Open Golf Championship. I was reviewing blog posts that were in my draft folder + came across this one! I wrote most of it a long time ago, but never shared it. I didn’t know if my readers were ready for it 😉 But, now that I’ve talked about my women’s health physical therapy appointments, delivery, + sore nipples…I figured, why not? Drew came up with the title! Thanks babe.
I hope the title + topic of this post didn’t scare you away yet…because digestion is a HUGE part of our health. This is a health + fitness blog + I really want to spread good information to my readers. Many people get embarrassed about this topic, but I’m a nurse…I fall into the category of not getting embarrassed at all. I have daily conversations with people about their bowels. In fact, there have times when I’ve said “YES!!!! I heard you had a bowel movement!” Believe me, people can feel tons better once their constipation resolves.
Why is it important to you?! No one wants to walk around feeling bloated, backed up, or have things escalate (hemorrhoids + beyond…eeeeeek!). Just like many health issues, there are things you can do to improve your situation.
First let’s talk about what is normal/not normal. Constipation is defined as infrequent bowel movements. Everyone’s bowels are different! Some people go 2x a day, some people go 3x a week. Both can be normal. Constipation is typically defined as less than 3 bowel movements per week. Chronic constipation means that you have had infrequent bowel movements for several weeks or longer.
Here is a handy chart to help you also visualize normals, we use this one in the hospital to keep track of what our patients have going on:
There can be lots of reasons people get constipated. These reasons can include: a decrease in physical activity, lack of time or privacy for defecation, dehydration, or a low fiber diet. There are many health conditions that can also cause constipation (anything from diabetes to spinal cord injury to pregnancy), but we’ll focus on the ones that we can influence.
There are modifications you can make to your diet + lifestyle to help relieve this issue. Including:
Increase fiber intake. Fiber aids in increasing the speed that your stool moves through your digestive tract + also adds weight to it. What foods have the most fiber? Fruits + vegetables!!!! Increasing your intake of these important food groups can get you headed in the right direction. High in fiber foods include: raspberries, carrots, peppers, flax seeds, brown rice, black beans, blackberries, pears…to name a few.
Move! Exercising most days of the week will increase the activity in your intestines! If you are currently not working out…even adding more walking into your routine can help. I’ve had SO many blog posts about how important exercise is + this is just another benefit to add to the long list!
Don’t ignore the urge to go to the bathroom. Lots of people can run into trouble if they are shy about their bowel movements (example: you refuse to go at work or in front of your significant other on vacation). It’s really important not to ignore the urge to head to the bathroom because it eventually goes away + may not come back for a while. It is important to take your time in the bathroom + don’t rush (also, important not to strain…relaxing will do the trick). Yes, even if you are at work. Everyone goes to the bathroom my friends, just do it 😉
Hydrate. Even during a busy nursing shift I make sure that I’m drinking WATER! So important for your overall health + it definitely aids in this department too. Water is the best drink for us my friends!
If you try these modifications + they don’t work, it’s probably time to talk to your doctor about your issue.
Have a great Tuesday + I’m really excited for the blog on Thursday…so make sure you stop back! -Ames