9 Key Constipation Factors

by Amber Conway BSN RN • August 12, 2016

  1. Pure Water:  Easy water equation: Body weight/2 = ounces of water required per day.  Diuretics (like coffee,tea), humidity, exercise alter this formula.

  2. Salt: Un-heated mineral-rich salt such as Pink Salt by PRL, is essential for healthy colon/adrenal function. Your adrenal glands are ultimately responsible for holding water in the colon. The colon, in turn, is the body's water reservoir. If you are deficient in natural salt, the adrenal glands can't keep water in the colon (thus water is urinated out, instead of stored), thus the "dry constipated" feeling despite drinking plenty of water. If you feel like your colon is dry, we recommend doing a 10 Day Salt Flush to help make your adrenal glands happy again. See our Pink Salt Flush Info for more details. If the pink salt flush and adequate water intake doesn't improve colon hydration, talk to your practitioner about possible Adrenal Weakness or Acidic Tissue Ph. See our Adrenal Gland Info and pH Testing Info for more details.

  3. Probiotics: Probiotics are friendly bacteria that live in your small and large intestines. If you get sick (ex: bladder infection etc.) and require an antibiotic, they will unfortunately also wipe out the good probiotic colonies in your intestines. Probiotics maintain a healthy intestinal environment and can dramatically improve healthy bowel motility (if you are deficient). If you've taken antibiotics before, and need a probiotic boost, we have some really good products: Probiotic Complex by PRL, Ther-Biotic Complete Powder by Klaire Labs,Pro-Biotic Complex Powder by Klaire Labs, MegaSporeBiotic by Physicians Exclusive and Lactobacillus Acidophilus by Pure Encapsulations. See our Probiotic Info for more details.  "Bad" bacterial overgrowth is more complicated and requires stronger intervention.  See our SIBO article for information on Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth.

  4. Oil: also known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), are a healthy part of the diet that help lubricate the bowels, make prostaglandins, and stimulate the gallbladder. Prostaglandins are hormones that (among other things) help regulate bowel function (including bowel contraction). Eating a spoonful of oil (ex: on a salad) will trigger your gallbladder to release bile into your small intestine and stimulate peristalsis (aka bowel movement). Thus, low fat diets may worsen constipation because you lose the beneficial lubricant, prostaglandin, and gallbladder contractions. Consider 1 to 1.5 tbsp per day of Flax Seed Oil by PRL, Vitamin E (400IU) and Mixed Tocopherol Vitamin E (400IU) by Pure Encapsulations.  Mixed Tocopherol Vitamin E is necessary when taking high dose EFAs to help prevent fatty acids from oxidizing too rapidly.

  5. Fiber: 20-30 grams per day is desirable, but if you don't hold enough water in your colon (d/t low salt or adrenal stress) the dry fiber will feel compacted.

  6. Digestive Fire: Hydrochloric (HCL) Acid, Digestive Enzymes, and Bile.

    • Low Stomach Acid: See our Low Stomach Acid Info for more details.
    • Low Digestive Enzymes
    • Low Bile Acids
  7. Protein-->Serotonin-->Peristalsis: Your intestines need adequate protein, specifically the essential amino acid called tryptophan to contract and move food down your GI tract. Tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP, which is then converted to the neurotransmitter called serotonin. Your brain uses serotonin to stimulate or inhibit peristalsis.

  8. Low Folic Acid (Vitamin B): For people over 60 years old, additional folic acid may be helpful in reducing constipation. As we age, we make lower levels of stomach acid. Most individuals over 60 have low stomach acid. Folic acid is dependent on adequate stomach acid for absorption. So taking 6 tablets of 800-mcg Folic Acid per day, for 3-4 weeks can offer significant relief. Folic acid should be accompanied by 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12 per day.  One capsule of Bio-B12 by Thorne contains 1,000 mcg B12 and 800 mcg Folic Acid. 

  9. Hormonal Causes: Low Thyroid and Adrenal Hormones will cause constipation.    Adrenal hormone imbalances are exacerbated by food intolerances which chronically rob the body of key nutrients. It can be impossible to reverse constipation until thyroid levels are normalized and/or food intolerances are identified and removed from the diet.  See our articles on Thyroid Dysfunction and Adrenal Fatigue for more details.

Short Term Help for Constipation:

  • Magnesium Supplements
  • Coffee Enemas: For acute constipation, Coffee enemas are extremely helpful and make you feel a lot better ; You can do one every time you feel constipated (up to 2 x per week) to get things moving again. Coffee enemas will tone the bowel and actually improve your natural motility over time. See ourCoffee Enema Info for more details.

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