Constipation is the Root of All Evils…

Constipation is the Root of All Evils….
Constipation is a big problem. Everyone knows it’s uncomfortable not to be able to poop for a few days, or, in some people, up to a week or more. Some describe constipation as a feeling of being unable to empty their bowels when they try to sit on the toilet, while others think more of hard, painful stools that require straining. But constipation can be a much bigger problem than it seems.
Do you know that the US has a much higher prevalence of constipation than other countries? Let’s start off with the fact that many individuals subscribe to the Standard American Diet (note the acronym …SAD.. because that’s an accurate descriptor). We drink insufficient amounts of water, and eat much less good fiber from whole foods like fruits and vegetables than is recommended, while eating all sorts of nasty-for-us foods. Some constipating favorites include cheese, peanut butter, marshmallows, tapioca (in granola bars, fruit snacks, candies), applesauce, arrowroot (gluten alternative), bananas, low fiber grains like white bread, white pasta, white rice, crackers, tortillas. A second contributing factor is that we’re sitting straight up to try to have a bowel movement, while many other cultures are squatting. The fact is, you can’t poop well sitting straight up. In fact, your body is actually designed to prohibit this from being a possibility. If you have an elevated toilet, it’s going to be even more difficult. Putting your feet up on a stool to get your knees above your hips can help get you closer to a squat position that will be much more effective for passing stool.
Once you’re backed up, your body is unhappy. Having a bunch of hard, clumpy stool sitting in your rectum predisposes you to urinary tract infections, fecal incontinence, and urinary incontinence. If you’re consistently having backups, you’ll tend to strain against your pelvic floor. This can result in pain, hemorrhoids, fissures, and eventually prolapse, from the pressures exerted against your pelvic floor muscles. All of those are issues better avoided than fought against later.
The bottom line (no pun intended) is that constipation’s not only unpleasant, but is oftentimes the first factor in a lineup of unpleasant bowel, bladder, and pelvic floor fallout issues.
What can you do? Eat a good, well rounded diet (remember those 5 recommended fruits and vegetables daily?). Drink at least 50 oz of water, and limit constipating foods. Sit with your feet up on a stool when trying to have a bowel movement. Don’t strain. If constipation is already an issue, see a pelvic floor physical therapist for help and recommendations to get yourself back on track.

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