My 8 secrets to maintaining a healthy bowel & living a long, healthy and vibrant life!
By Frank Caruso
I read recently that 90% of adults living in western society suffer from Constipation. Many people don’t know they are suffering from constipation because they are so used to having abnormal bowel functions. They have simply forgotten what its like to have a normal bowel movement. In conventional medical circles, it is considered “normal” to have a bowel movement as infrequently as three times a week. In contrast, most holistic practitioners would consider the normal range of bowel movements to be one to three per day. The thinking here is that three movements would be ideal because we generally eat three meals daily. Ideally, when food enters the stomach, a nerve impulse is sent to the colon, prompting it to contract and release its contents.
Some people I’ve spoken to believe its normal to have one bowel movement every 3 days. After reading over 50 books of bowel health and natural living over the last 38 years, in my opinion, one bowel movement every 3 days is definitely not ok. I do believe that the normal range of bowel movements should be 1 to 3 a day for maintaining a healthy bowel and for optimum health.
What is constipation?
Constipation may be defined as infrequent or incomplete bowel movements often characterized by stools that are hard, dry and difficult to pass due to slow transit time through the gastrointestinal tract. Transit time is the amount of time that elapses between ingestion of food and excretion of it.
What causes constipation?
There are many possible causes of constipation ranging from simple to complex. Chronic constipation is the top gastrointestinal complaint in Australia. It affects people of all ages, but older adults are five times more likely than younger people to have the problem.
Constipation is much more common in Western cultures than elsewhere due to our sedentary lifestyles and consumption of processed foods. Fibre, which is indigestible complex plant carbohydrates found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is removed from most processed foods because it decreases shelf life. A high intake of dietary fibre:
- Speeds up transit time of stools
- Reduces the chance of absorption toxins into your blood stream from stools
- Bulks and softens stools, increasing frequency and quantity of bowel movements.
Here are other main causes of constipation;
- Too much fat in the diet and too many refined foods.
- Side effects of some medications.
- Lack of exercise
- Travel (changing time zones especially)
- Pregnancy (hormonal and mechanical problems presented)
- Excessive use of laxatives can damage nerve cells in the bowel, interfering with its ability to contract.
- Ignoring the urge to defecate
- Dehydration (water needed to provide bulk to stools)
- Extreme stress/depression
- Magnesium deficiency
- Deficiency of peristalsis-inducing nutrients: vitamin B5, vitamin C, Choline and arginine
- Prolonged bed rest
- Insufficient levels of digestive enzymes – especially in the elderly (hydrochloric acid, pancreatic enzymes, bile salts)
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
With constipation, a wide range of symptoms may be experienced. These could include:
- Abdominal discomfort/fullness
- Rectal discomfort
- Loss of appetite
- Lower back pain
- Generally not feeling well
When bowel transit time is slow, waste is not promptly eliminated from the body. This means it will consequently decay or ferment. As toxins are reabsorbed into the body, health problems increases.
In addition to the symptoms listed above, constipation can give rise to:
- Bad breath
- Body odour
- Coated tongue
- Malabsorption syndrome
Importance of Probiotics
If you have taken antibiotics at anytime I would strongly recommend you take probiotic supplements for about 3 months.
Antibiotics are medicines used to treat infections or diseases caused by bacteria. However Antibiotics not only kill off the ‘bad’ bacteria that are causing an infection, but they can also wipe out some of our good essential bacteria – particularly in the gut.
With the reduction in ‘good’ bacteria, the body finds it harder to maintain good gut balance, and this may result in some unwanted symptoms such as constipation, poor digestion, wind, stomach cramps and even possibly diarrhoea. This is because the “good bacteria” also assist with the digestion of food!
However this imbalance may be assisted by taking a probiotic every day during your course of antibiotics and for at least 3 months after the course is finished. This way you can replenish your friendly bacteria on a daily basis, before your digestive system is upset by a longstanding microbial imbalance.
Here are my 8 tips to maintaining a healthy bowel, prevent and quickly relieve constipation
1. Dietary fibre
Increase your dietary fibre intake to 35 grams a day for men and 30 grams a day for women. Below I have listed a few common fruits and vegetables and the amount of fibre they contain. It’s important that you calculate the total amount of fibre you are consuming from your foods.
Please read the labels of all packaged food you buy to ensure they contain a good amount of dietary fibre. Start by reducing the amount of refined foods you purchase and introduce more wholefoods to your weekly shopping list such as: multigrain/wholemeal breads and pasta, brown rice, raw cereals etc. You can see by this list that it doesn’t take much to add up to your recommended daily dietary fibre intake.
Fibre content of foods
|Apple||1 medium||=||4 grams|
|Peach||1 medium||=||2 grams|
|Pear||1 medium||=||5 grams|
|Avocado||1 medium||=||13.5 grams|
|Kiwi Fruit||1 medium||=||2 grams|
|Fig fresh||1 medium||=||2 grams|
|Bananas||1 medium||=||3 grams|
|Passion Fruit||1 medium||=||2 grams|
|Oranges||1 medium||=||3 grams|
|Nectarines||1 medium||=||2 grams|
|Broccoli, fresh, cooked||1 cup||=||2|
|Zucchini, Fresh, cooked||1 cup||=||3|
|Brown rice, cooked||1 cup||=||4|
|Cereal, bran flakes||1 cup||=||7|
|Oatmeal, plain, cooked||1 cup||=||4|
|Wholemeal pasta||1 cup||=||6|
|Lima Beans||1 cup||=||13|
|Flax seed||1 tablespoon||=||3|
|Chia seeds||1 tablespoon||=||5.5|
In addition you could take 2 tablespoons of Caruso’s Quick Fibre Plus every morning. Not only does it provide you with 10 grams of dietary fibre (1/3 of your daily allowance) but also an abundance of Omega 3, 6 & 9 essential fatty acids (EFA’s), protein and complex carbohydrates.
2. Drink water
Drink 2 litres (8 glasses) of pure water daily. Drinking at least 2 litres of water throughout the day is essential for bowel health. Particularly when consuming 30 grams of dietary fibre daily. It’s also important that you don’t consume 2 litres at once and rather over an 8 to 12 hour period during the day. Try and not drink water or fluids during mail meals. Best to drink an hour before meals and 30 minutes after main meals.
Exercise 20 minutes everyday. Moderate exercise stimulates your bowels, helping your intestines do their job and increase bowel movements. Exercising 20 minutes a day reduces the risk of developing Chronic Disease dramatically! Certain yoga poses increase blood flow to the digestive tract and stimulates your intestines to contract. In my opinion the best exercises that help stimulate the bowels are total functional, bodyweight exercises that focus mostly on your stomach (core) muscles. To view my 20-minute bodyweight workout video please clink here; 20 minute workout video
4. Don’t over eat
Most people over eat their main meal. Even over eating of nutritional food can cause constipation and upset your digestive system. Your digestive system needs time to properly digest the food that you eat and to unitise all the goodness that these foods provide. So by eating five smaller meals daily rather than three large meals takes a huge load off your digestive system. As an example, you should have a good wholesome breakfast which includes fresh fruit, unprocessed cereal, almonds and seeds. Its important that you ensure that breakfast provides you with at least 1/3 of your daily fibre intake. By mid morning you could eat 2 pieces of fruit, hand full of raw nuts or seeds. Lunch/midday grilled chicken/tuna salad and pine nuts (with or without wholegrain bread), mid afternoon another 2 pieces of fruit and hand full of nuts, and evening you can have a wholesome meal with a fruit salad afterwards for dessert. If you get a little peckish later at night please have another piece of fresh fruit of raw nuts (almonds or cashews). These are easy to digest!
5. Don’t eat too late
Many people I talk to who have digestive problems eat just before going to bed. Please don’t eat too late at night or 2 hours before going to bed. Eating just before bed may slow down digestion, may cause unpleasant side effects such as: problems sleeping, nightmares, indigestion, gas just to name a few. Studies have also shown that when food is consumed late at night — anywhere from after dinner to outside a person’s typical sleep/wake cycle — your body is more likely to store those calories as fat and gain weight rather than burn it as energy,
6. Eat and chew your food
Eating slowly and chewing your food probably is essential for good digestion. When consuming main meals its really important that you chew your food slowly and properly before shallowing. The physical process of chewing food in your mouth helps to break down larger particles of food into smaller particles. This helps to reduce stress on the oesophagus and helps the stomach metabolize your food. When you chew each mouthful properly, you also release a lot of saliva, which contain digestive enzymes which break down starch. This goes a long way in preventing digestive problems and preventing constipation.
7. Avoid eating processed food
Please try and reduce the amount of processed food that you eat on a daily basis. Most processed food contains little fibre and even less nourishment. As a result it robs your body of the opportunity to receive the nutrition it so desperately needs from whole foods to maintain optimum health and wellbeing. It’s what I call a diet saboteur. It’s blamed for our nation’s obesity epidemic, high blood pressure and the rise of Type 2 diabetes. You can reduce your chances of developing chronic disease dramatically by just reducing processed food from your diet.
8. Eat to live
Most people living in the western world today live to eat rather than eat to live. It’s not rocket science. Eating an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, raw seeds and nuts, whole grains and wholefoods daily is undoubtedly going to not only reduce your chances of developing chronic disease but improve your quality of life I promise you that if you embrace the principles of healthy living, you can live a long, healthy and vibrant life. If you make time for good health you will always have enough health for a good time.
True Wealth is Good Health!
Yours in Vibrant health,
Fonder of Caruso’s Natural Health.
PS. I would also recommend you read Ron Gellatley’s best seller “Internal Health, The Key to Internal Youth and Vitality”. Ron’s book is a complete guide to internal health and provides you natural solutions to many common digestive disorders. You can purchase a soft copy of Ron’s 300 page best seller on my website for only $7.95 – www.carusosnaturalhealth.com.au/product/176/internal-healththe-key-to-eternal-health-vitality-e-book