My digestion is a little sluggish and I know it is important to be regular each day. Do you have any suggestions to help?
Thanks for the great question. You are absolutely right that staying regular is an important part of supporting good health. There is a direct blood supply from your digestion to your liver and so when things are moving slowly then some components on their way to elimination re-enter circulation and congest the system and health. The transit time from eating something to eliminating it is supposed to be 24-hours so it is considered good and ‘regular’ to have 2-3 well-formed bowel movements each day. Some people think they are regular if they go regularly every 3 days. Others, confuse ‘normal’ with common … so they think it is ‘normal’ to miss days, If you are putting food and drink in throughout the day then you should expect to have 2-3 bowel movements each day. If I am coaching an adult to better transit time … I often say, “have you ever looked after a toddler? … “You feed them and they eliminate!!” As you move through life, health habits, stress and intervention can have us drift off “normal.”
Some of the factors that contribute to optimal bowel movements can be ‘bug balance,’ liver function, food choices and fluid intake. Here are some suggestions that can tweak these areas:
- Take good bacteria –AKA probiotics. The digestive tract is host to thousands of bugs and keeping a good balance helps ensure that functions of elimination are good. Sometimes you need to take it a step further and take anti-microbial herbs or nutrients. Some times taking good bacteria alone is like putting a police officer in to a riot!! Good move but not enough.
- Stay hydrated – drink water and/or herbal teas throughout the day.
- Consume plenty of vegetables – this will help ensure you get your daily dose of fibre and the minerals within vegetables bolster hydration (think … electrolytes are charged minerals)
- Consider taking liver herbs – herbs such as Boldo, Dandelion, Artichoke, and Barberry that encourage bile flow from the gallbladder. This discharge helps get things moving along and decongests the system
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugars – Most digestive bugs feed off carbohydrates, Consuming too much sugar – or refined and/or high glycemic food – feeds imbalance and doesn’t do anything for your fibre intake.
Staying regular can require you to work on several areas of health but it will serve you well. I believe that good digestive health can set a strong foundation for optimal health.
I hope these suggestions help keep you on track.
“Health from the inside out.”
Dr. Kimberly McQueen BSc, ND is a Naturopathic Physician in Victoria, BC. In addition to her clinic work she is a nutrition consultant for Rowing Canada. P:778.433.4935 and www.kimmcqueen.com. Kim McQueen is one of the Co-founders of the nourishing Supershake, Rumble. See www.drinkrumble.com