by Kris Pitcher
I'm a producer, let's just start there. This blog is going to get personal. So, if you're not up for talking about your bowels...now is the time to bow out.
Bowel issues are very common not only among competitors, but general population as well. What's "normal"? Normal frequency varies from three times a day, to 2 times per week. If you are having less than 3 bowel movements a week, you're constipated.
There are as many causes to constipation as there are remedies. A few common ones include pregnancy, age, dehydration, low fiber diet, sedentary lifestyle, medications, over use of laxatives, stress, diabetes, thyroid disorders, stress...the list is long.
For women, the most common cause is hormones. Thank you menstruation. After ovulation, our progesterone levels increase and peak. The levels slowly decrease until it drops enough to trigger menstruation - the actual bleeding.
Not long ago, my husband and I had a conversation about this. He was flabbergasted (my word) that women know VERY little about something so consuming. He said, "If I was bleeding every month I'm pretty sure I would know everything there was to know about it." And he would. He knows more about it than most of us.
Progesterone delays the transit time of food, and we get stopped up. By the onset of menstruation, we are gassy, bloated, and you guessed it...constipated. Recall that this hormone is peaking about a week before we see blood.
This is usually when the texts come in from competitive clients, "I can't poop." Or, "I haven't pooped for 3 days." First response? Where are you in your cycle. Period.
There are some common ways to alleviate constipation. Using laxatives is the least desirable. Remember over use of laxatives can cause constipation, so you're in a circle on this one. Let's go over some better choices to remedy your issue.
Most of us are fairly active, but increasing activity is great. Ensuring we are getting a fiber rich diet is also important. We can increase our intake of magnesium citrate. Increasing water is also key. Ginger tea, or really any hot tea, helps to warm and relax the lower intestines. We can also increase our intake of vitamin C.
It's also thought that propping your feet up while sitting on the john will adjust the angle of your bowels and help get thing moving. There are actual devices for this (no, I don't have one).
On a regular basis (see what I did there?) we can take a pro-biotic to ensure good gut health. Usually, one or more of these remedies in combination will get you moving. And if your stop up is due to hormonal fluctuations, those will change, and you will go.
And when all else fails, there's always the last ditch effort...the enema. But, we can usually get things moving before we need to go that route. Well, you know what I mean. Now you know more about your bowels, what's normal, and how to get things moving when you're constipated. It happens, pretty much to everyone.