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Living with a sluggish digestive system and chronic constipation causes discomfort, low energy, crabbiness, and sometimes even severe pain. I can speak from personal experience- according to my mother I first suffered from constipation at three weeks old! The broad term for this condition is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and it affects one in five people, although symptoms vary depending on the individual.

At the risk of this blog being a little bit TMI (too much information), I want to share the Top Six Ways to Overcome Chronic Constipation and get back to living an active healthy lifestyle.

Water:
You’ve heard it before- adequate hydration is key to combating constipation. Without consuming the proper amount of water for your weight and activity level, the fecal matter in your colon can become very dry and painful to pass. I drink lots of caffeine free herbal teas such as chamomile, rooibos, ginger and peppermint. They’re all great for digestion and taste great without the need for milk or sweeteners! I also drink lots of alkaline, mineralized water that is filtered through my Santevia water system. Avoiding highly caffeinated, sugary beverages and limiting my alcohol consumption has made a world of difference where my constipation is concerned.

Fiber:
I personally have always found it challenging to get enough fiber through diet alone to keep me regular. Although I eat a lot of fruits, veggies and whole grains, my body still needs more bulk to push things through. About 4 years ago, my wife introduced me to a fiber supplement known as “FiberSmart” by Renew Life. I’ve experienced amazing results! It’s primarily ground flax seeds with a few other natural bowel supporting herbs. I have recently discovered another great option to get needed fiber into my diet: flax seeds soaked in water. Adding 2 tablespoons of whole flax seeds (soaked in water overnight) to my morning smoothie is just the ticket to a healthy colon and is relatively inexpensive.

Acidophilus:
Keeping a high quality, full spectrum acidophilus in my fridge is a must. Although many doctors tell people suffering from constipation or diarrhea to eat yogurt, which contains small amounts of acidophilus and bifidus (the “good bacteria”), in many cases it’s not enough! The problem is that it is often killed off by our stomach acid before it gets as far into the digestive system as it needs to. Much better options exist, such as “New Roots Ultra Acidophilus capsules” and “Bio-K” (a highly concentrated, drinkable acidophilus). I take one capsule before bed every night.

Colon Hydrotherapy:
It’s exactly what it sounds like: water therapy for your colon. I have been getting these treatments for the past 10 years and honestly could not live without them. This treatment should be performed by a certified Colon Hydrotherapist (CH) in a clean, comforting and relaxing environment. I generally go to my CH every six months to help eliminate built up toxin from my system and to stimulate my colon’s natural peristalsis. Research practitioners in your area if you feel this is something that would benefit you or email me personally for more information.

Natural Herbal Laxatives:
There’s nothing worse than going for days without a bowel movement and then taking an over-the-counter laxative that causes terrible pain and discomfort. Some of the best natural remedies I use when my body needs a little extra support are: aloe vera juice, Traditional Medicinals “Smooth Move” laxative tea, “Renew Life – Cleansemore”, triphala or slippery elm. None of these options are habit-forming nor do they have any unwanted side effects!


Exercise & Stress Reduction:
Not only do I exercise for physical reasons but also for the mental and emotional support it provides me. For people suffering with IBS, physical activity is a must! It’s not only a great way to manage stress but exercise (even walking as little as 30 minutes a day) can help relieve symptoms of IBS. I have a rebounder (small trampoline) that I sometimes use; the gravity and bouncing seem to really work.

After reading Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the MindBodySpirit Connection by W. Salt II & N. Neimark, I now have a better understanding of how emotions affect my bowel function. The truth of the matter is, the greater the amount of stress present in my life, the more pain, bloating and constipation I suffer. In today’s fast paced society it’s good practice to check in with ourselves on a daily basis. Whether that means meditating, doing yoga, taking a walk or journaling, we MUST allow our minds to rest and seek internal healing of the spirit as much as external healing of the body.

In summary, the best advice I can offer is to avoid those foods that cause you pain and discomfort, engage in adequate physical activity to keep things flowing, drink lots of good quality water, find ways to de-stress and surround yourself by positive, loving individuals who are willing to support you on your journey.

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No matter what language you use, or how you refer to it, water is an essential element that humans cannot survive without.  I have had a personal addiction to this clear, tasteless, refreshing liquid since my late teens. I can honestly admit, I nearly never leave home without my BPA-free, 2L water bottle.  It has become a part of who I am for the past decade.  It’s a good thing I’m an Aquarian (the water bearer) because life just wouldn’t make sense otherwise!

Our bodies are made up of 60-70% water and the majority of our blood is made up of H2O.  Water not only hydrates the body, cells, muscles, lungs and brain but it also provides a means for nutrients to travel to our organs and tissues.  Its other main functions is to transport oxygen to our cells, aid in the removal of waste, and protect the joints and organs.

Without adequate amounts, we can experience a slew of adverse symptoms. These symptoms present themselves in the form of dehydration. Dehydration can be fatal if unattended and can include anything from: pain in the joints, headaches, constipation, confusion, or lower back pain. Other major signs of dehydration are strong-odoured and/or yellow-amber coloured urine.

Diuretics are the biggest contributors to loss of fluids from our bodies; coffee and alcohol being the most prevelant. We also lose water through urination, respiration, sweating and small amounts through our feces. It is for these reasons that active individuals need a great amount of fluids to replace their loss through heavy breathing and sweating.

Now you can see why drinking enough liquid (water or herbal un-caffeinated tea) is of utmost importance in the maintenance of good health. In order to determine your required daily intake of H2O, divide your weight in pounds by two. This number is the amount of water you should aim to drink each day in ounces (usually about 1.5-2L).

Bottled water is not the best choice because it is often bottled many months in advance.  The plastic from the bottle itself can easily leach into the contents of your drink.  As well, plastic water bottles are a HUGE source of (unnecessary) waste. A re-usable water bottle is ideal; metal or BPA-free Nalgene bottles are great!

It is best to drink filtered water like that from a Brita, Santivia (as pictured above) or Kangan water system.  Click here for more information on the Santivia Pure Earth Water System.

Spring water or tap water is in most cases, better than distilled.  Distilled water is void of any nutrients or minerals and therefore not providing your system with anything of benefit except fluid.

Don’t forget, if you’re thirsty you are already dehydrated.  Drink water consistently throughout the day and in adequate amounts for optimal health.

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