We’re going to get personal today! I’m in Seattle this week visiting friends who have triplets. One of the babies was struggling with constipation the other day. Most people experience constipation at some point in their life. And for some it is an ongoing struggle. Thankfully there is a lot that you can do to help your digestive system stay healthy or get back on track.
A huge contributing factor for constipation is what we eat. When we eat too much processed/refined food, red meat, and dairy, it can often lead to constipation. This happens because of a lack of fiber. Typically it can be remedied by eating more fiber and less of the above foods.
What is fiber? Fiber is the part of the plant that we cannot digest. Since it isn’t digested it retains water as it goes through your gut. This helps us by adding bulk and softness to the stool. If you eat very little fiber it is best to start adding more fiber gradually. This helps you avoid bloating and cramping. Also be sure to always drink plenty of water.
In general fiber rich foods are whole grains (i.e. oats, millet, quinoa) certain vegetables and fruits (i.e. broccoli, green peas, apples, berries, dried fruits), and legumes.
The following foods are particularly helpful for constipation:
- Prunes. Not only are prunes high in fiber, but they also contain sorbitol which is a natural laxative. Some ideas: soak them in hot water for a few minutes (or hours) to get them nice and plump; cook them in with hot cereal, cut them up and add them to baked goods.
- Flaxseed. To gain the benefits of flaxseed, be sure to eat them ground up. You can purchase them already ground up or you can grind them easily in a small coffee grinder. Some ideas for adding them to your diet: sprinkle on whole grain cooked or cold cereal; mix into smoothies; add to baked goods
There are some other, non-food things that you can also do to help constipation:
- Exercise. For some people going for a brisk walk (or even a run) can be helpful to keep their system moving.
- Smooth Move Tea. Traditional Medicinals has a kind of tea that is helpful for constipation. They recommend drinking it before bed, but to see how it works for your body it may be helpful to drink on a quiet day when you don’t need to be anywhere. They say that the working ingredient in it is Senna leaf, which “promotes bowl movement by direct action on the intestine.”
Jin Shin Jyutsu is a gentle form of healing acupressure, which you can use on others or on yourself. There are certain points and combinations of points that help with constipation. You can sit or lie for this exercises. The important thing is to be as comfortable as possible. These are all separate possibilities, so you can do one at a time.
- Hold your index fingers one at a time, for a few minutes each.
- Place your fingers/hand on the outside of the left knee. (The right knee energy site is to ease diarrhea.)
- Place your right hand at the base of your head on the left side. At the same time, place your left hand/fingers on your left sitting bone – basically sit on your hand (see photo). Hold for a few minutes or longer. After a few minutes, move the right hand down to the neck on the left side, again hold for a few minutes. Next move the right hand to the left crook where the shoulder and neck meet and hold for another few minutes.
Check back in tomorrow for more Maya Wellness tips!