warning this post is about poop

One of the more uncomfortable side effects of my intolerance to oils is constipation. Which I actually prefer over the flip side of the coin (diarrhea), mostly because I have to spend less time in the bathroom. I knew constipation wasn’t good but because it was my normal, I rationalized that it couldn’t be that bad if I experienced it all the time and I have to admit I’m still struggling with it.

The other day I was reading Natural Solutions for Digestive Health By Dr. Lillian Sarno Teta and Jeannette Bessinger where they talk about your liver. I was impressed. According to them, your liver handles over 500 hundred functions per minute and manufactures 15,000 compounds for your body. Its continually cycling your blood through itself so it can change, metabolize, store, excrete or detoxify the compounds that it comes across. In a day it filters your blood 500 times.

Estrogen is one example of the chemicals that the liver filters out of the blood and sends into the digestive system to be (hopefully) pooped out. But if like me you are constipated, the poop sits around in your guts for too long and things in it start to be reabsorbed by the linings of the large intestine. When you reabsorb extra estrogen it can change your estrogen levels and cause problems, as the normal functions of your body are thrown out of whack. Extra estrogen can cause weight gain, PMS, acne, water retention, bloating and all kinds of other unfortunate issues.

I hate to think of all the other things the liver has thrown into my bowels to get rid of only to reabsorb later. It’s no wonder that the constipated among us do not feel well.

There’s some debate about how long food should remain in your system (transit time) but under 24 hours seems to be best . I wrote a post about how to measure transit time.

In that post I talk about some dietary changes you can make to help with transit times . But there are some lifestyle interventions you can try as well. I’ve had some good luck with these.

Sleep is supposed to help with bowel health. I know that the first thing to happen when I’ve had a bad night is for my bowels to seize up. It’s awful. Of course if you have trouble sleeping there’s very little point in adding pressure to your insomnia. If you can’t sleep you can’t sleep, but if you are one of those people who stays up really late regularly or likes to pull all nighters for fun, you might consider trying to institute a regular bed time. It will assist you with not only your bowels but also with your all over health in the long run. Ever since I started regularly getting up at the same time each day. I’ve done a lot better. (I still struggle to go to bed at the right time but it does get easier. )

More physical movement throughout the day can encourage the bowels to move. I’m not talking exercise in the traditional sense of working out for an hour once a day. I’m actually referring to getting up and moving around more often, and changing positions regularly. For example I try to get up from my computer chair once an hour and change positions, I’ll often wander down my hallway a few times to get the blood flow moving back through my legs. Also I try not to watch TV in large lumps of time and break it up with other stuff between episodes. This can be very hard with exciting shows.

I do better with shorter periods of walking several times a day rather than a long walk once a day. Personally I have noticed that walking and exercise are not for the day you do them. They help the day after the day after you do them. I won’t have bowel problems the day after I’ve been bed ridden. It will be the day after that that I’m constipated. I try to remind myself of this because I get frustrated sometimes “But I went for a long walk yesterday! Why do I feel all backed up? ” Obviously walking isn’t the perfect cure but it is very helpful if you do move regularly.

Another physical thing that you can do is schedule a bathroom time. Natural Solutions suggests scheduling 15 to 20 minutes every day at the same time to sit on the pot and relax your anus to give your bowels a good chance to do what they do.

I personally couldn’t make myself commit to that much time so about a week ago, I set a five minute timer and sat in the bathroom in the morning. Let me tell you it works. My body was thrilled that I had given it the chance and the next day it wasn’t going to give me a chance NOT to sit down in the morning. So far I’ve never needed more than a five minute timer to get things moving, although altogether it might take longer than that to finish.

I wish I could say that getting off the oils I was intolerant of cured everything. But obviously 30 years of eating stuff I’m allergic to has left me with some issues. I do the best I can.

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