by Sachiko Giorgilli, Nutritional Medicine
7 Common Causes of Constipation
Like a toilet, our internal flushing system requires adequate water to function properly.
2. Lack of Fibre
Dietary fibre isn’t digested by your body, but instead travels relatively intact through the stomach and intestines, absorbing water to add bulk to stool, and helping move waste through your system.
3. Disruption of the Gut Flora
Your digestive system is home to a wealth of different types of good bacteria that help break down and absorb food and then eliminate waste. Many factors such as taking antibiotics or oral contraceptives, stress, or inflammation can disrupt the natural gut flora leading to yeast overgrowth, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and leaky gut, all of which can cause constipation.
4. Food Sensitivities
Constipation can be a common symptom of the general digestive mayhem related to food sensitivity as the body struggles to digest and eliminate foods that cause inflammation. Although food sensitivity can be caused by a wide range of foods, gluten and dairy are the most common culprits.
Hypothyroidism, an under-active thyroid, slows down many of the body’s systems, including elimination. For your body to eliminate waste, your colon must contract, and slow or weak colon contractions can be a symptom of hypothyroidism.
6. Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmune diseases are born when your body is working hard to defend itself against something potentially dangerous, such as an allergen, a toxin, an infection, or even a food, and it fails to differentiate between the intruder and parts of your own body. This causes your immune system to attack your own organs. Autoimmune diseases can affect many different systems in your body; they include neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease, thyroid diseases such as Hashimoto’s, and multiple-system conditions such as Lupus. All of these diseases can cause constipation.
7. Bowel Obstruction
A more acute cause of constipation can be an obstruction in the small or large intestine that prevents stool from moving through. Common causes of intestinal obstructions are scar tissue or adhesions caused by abdominal surgery, hernias, tumours, Crohn’s disease (which can narrow or twist the intestine), or even cancer.
7 Solutions for Treating and Preventing Constipation
1. Drink Plenty of Water
To keep your pipes flushing, make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. This is especially important if you drink diuretics such as coffee or alcohol.
2. Consume Enough Dietary Fibre
Eating foods rich in dietary fibre is a staple for regularity, so be sure to reach for foods such as nuts, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, apples, citrus fruits, and other foods high in fibre. You can also take a fibre supplement to help you become more regular.
3. Avoid Inflammatory Foods
While you’re reaching for high-fibre foods, stay away from foods that are inflammatory, particularly gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and sugar. Since food sensitivity and inflammation triggers are unique to each person, I recommend IgG Food sensitivity test to identify your own food sensitivities.
4. Start Taking Probiotics
If your gut balance has been disrupted, it’s key to restore the beneficial bacteria that keeps your gut in check. Taking probiotic supplements, such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus species, will ensure that you have plenty of the good bacteria needed for regular bowel movements.
5. Get Your Thyroid Tested
If you and your doctor suspect your constipation is caused by hypothyroidism, you should have your thyroid levels (including T3, FT3, and RT3) tested. If your T3 levels are low, you will want to adopt a thyroid protocol including a high-quality multivitamin, a gluten-free diet, and potentially taking a prescription thyroid medication.
6. Get Tested for Autoimmune Disease
Antinuclear antibodies, which are the type that typically attack your tissues instead of outside invaders, as well as more specific types of antibodies, such as thyroid antibodies, will help you uncover any underlying autoimmune conditions. Armed with this knowledge, you can halt and even reverse signs of autoimmune disease by eliminating toxic foods, introducing restorative ingredients, and identifying environmental toxins.
7. Intestinal Scope
If you experience severe and constant belly pain with your constipation, you could be suffering from an intestinal obstruction and you should see a specialist immediately. Your physician will perform a scope to identify the obstruction to determine the next step.