Lisa is a qualified Nutritional Therapist. She has been practicing nutrition for 12 years across a broad spectrum of health conditions and digestive issues. She has a special interest in Rosacea, and her research, together with handson experience, led to the writing of her thesis entitled “The Nutritional Management of Rosacea”.
Over the next few weeks, I will be covering the most common digestive issues experienced by Rosacea sufferers. This week I will explain the constipated bowel, which I consider to be one of the most serious, yet often ‘accepted’ states of digestion.
The term constipation is usually used to mean difficulty in passing a stool, diminished frequency of opening the bowels, or the passage of dry, hard stools. A lack of fruits, vegetables, and legumes in the diet, or poor intake of healthy fats and fluids can result in waste products moving too slowly, and the fecal matter takes a lengthened time to pass through the bowels. If bowel transit time is slow, the stool may become hardened and difficult to pass, especially in hot weather when electrolyte minerals are depleted via the sweat glands.
Most commonly, the cause of constipation is not caused by dietary factors, but by a change in the ecology of the GI tract, resulting in a polluted bacterial imbalance in the digestive system.
Beneficial bacteria play a significant role in the digestion and the function of the gastrointestinal system.
Probiotic bacteria benefits include stimulation of peristalsis (constriction and relaxation of the muscles of the intestines that create a wave-like motion and push the contents forward), production of natural antibiotics to keep pathogenic bacteria at bay, synthesize vitamins, and they are your primary non-specific immune defense. They also detoxify harmful substances that are carcinogens (known cancer-causing substances) and protect the mucus membranes in the intestinal environment.
The intestinal lining is a complex membrane that produces mucus and is, therefore, in effect a wet/slippery wall. Hence dehydration of the stool is a rarity where beneficial bacteria are adequate.
Doctors and scientists use The Bristol Stool Chart to assess both reasonable and less than optimum bowel function. This chart gives seven types of stool which are:
1. Separate hard lumps like rabbit droppings that are difficult to pass.
2. Sausage shaped but lumpy / bumpy.
3. Like a sausage but lined with cracks.
4. Banana shaped, smooth and soft.
5. Soft pebbles
6. Mushy pebbles/pieces, with uneven edges
7. Liquid stool
Stool types one, two and three are varying degrees of constipation with number one being the worse type. Type four is an ideal stool and types five, six, and seven are varying degrees of diarrhea with number seven being the worse.
The orthodox medical view is that regularity and comfort of bowel movement are more important than frequency and that constipation is mainly a nuisance rather than a medical condition. Whereas the approach of complementary therapies is that it is a serious condition that should never be left untreated if one desires to prevent a host of diseases and digestive issues.
If faecal matter remains in the bowels too long, it becomes dehydrated due to the re-absorption of water, but along with this fluid, many toxins that are soluble in water are also re-absorbed.
This auto-intoxication plays a significant role in the symptoms experienced by people who are constipated because these poisons can affect every area of the body. Some of the most common symptoms are Bad Breath, Stuffy Head, Headaches, Foggy Thinking, Poor Motivation, CoatedTongue, Sluggishness, Extreme Tiredness, Insomnia (difficulty sleeping), Hormonal Imbalances, Skin Outbreaks (Acne), Rosacea Flushing, and Excessive Weight Gain.
Constipation can lead to enlarged hemorrhoids, and far more serious conditions such as diverticular disease and cancer of the bowel, and for this reason I urge anyone suffering constipation to make it his or her first point of address in overcoming any health issues, including Rosacea.
Since constipation leads to auto-intoxication (poisoning from toxic substances formed from within the body), free radical damage increases dramatically and in the condition of Rosacea there is a very high rate of free radical damage occurring without constipation! The antioxidant system of the Rosacea sufferer is under a heavy workload and needs to be supported via diet by eating lots of vegetables, especially brightly coloured ones. Vegetables will also assist the constipated bowel to soften, making it easier to eliminate.
The most common causes of constipation in the Western World is a digestive issue, Dysbiosis (imbalance between beneficial and non-beneficial bacteria in the digestive system), a high intake of processed foods together with poor intake of fluids, vegetables, fruits and legumes.
Other possible causes are:
• Antacids and/or laxative abuse
• Lack of exercise / Immobility (disabled)
• Pathogenic bacteria / parasites in the bowel
• Under-active thyroid
• Lack of regular bowel moving habits, especially not having time!
• Wrong position (squatting is best), use of a foot-stool can help
• Food allergy or intolerance
• Poor stomach acid production
• Liver dysfunction and/or Gall Bladder disease
• Stress and depression
• Nutritional deficiencies
• Medicinal Drugs that affect bowel motility Constipation can only truly be overcome by rebalancing the digestive system towards a more beneficial bacteria dominance. In the meantime, some dietary manipulations can assist in relieving constipation such as:
• Eliminate ALL dairy from cows (may substitute with Goat or Sheep products if you do not have any known or suspected intolerance)
• Eliminate all processed foods including breads and other baked goods, pre-packed meals, commercially prepared sauces, fruit juices made from concentrate, and meats that do not resemble their origin (luncheon meat, salami, pate, etc.)
• Eliminate all foods and drinks that carry any of these labels: sugar-free, low calorie, low fat, diet, or I can’t believe it’s not .. (because it likely isn’t!)
• Drink one full glass of water (may be flavoured with freshly squeezed lemon/lime juice) every 2 hours throughout the day.
• Eat at least five portions of vegetables (excluding potatoes) every single day, using a portion size as 1 heaped tablespoon
• Eat at least three of your vegetable portions RAW
• Include 1-2 portions of fruit in your daily diet (apples, pears, plums, peaches & berry fruits)
For those who have suffered constipation chronically (more than 3-4 weeks), I highly recommend you contact me for an assessment to tackle your digestive issues. My programme offers personalised and specific recommendations to ensure the digestive system is expertly cleansed and nourished; it may be the greatest investment you will ever make to your future health potential.
This Week’s Quote:
“If the sewer system in your home is backed up, your entire home is affected. Should it be any different with your body?” Norman Walker, DSc