I know some people get all squeamish when talking about poop, but there’s really no need to! We all do it, and how often you poop, along with what your poop looks like, tells a picture of your overall health. Although, everyone is different, you ideally, you want to poop everyday, and it should come out rather easily.
Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of my clients complain about constipation. With the cold weather, perhaps people are more inclined to turn to comfort foods, which many times can include yucky processed foods. This can mess up the gut and cause some discomfort. I also have clients with children that are having a hard time pooping. Below are a few suggestions for adults and kids on how you can naturally (if you think I’d just suggest miralax then you’ve come to the wrong place!!) help soften your stools and get the juices flowin’!
1- Make sure you’re having enough fiber (25-30 grams, and 19 grams until age 3), AND drinking a lot of water- if you increase your fiber intake without drinking enough water, this will have the opposite effect. Think vegetables, fruits (pears are great) and whole grains, like oats.
2- Prunes/apricots/raisins- I like to boil these down with some water and make a nice compote. You can eat it off of a spoon, or put it on some sprouted whole grain bread (Ezekiel is a high quality brand, but it does contain some gluten. Free bread is a good brand for gluten free).
3- Beet powder- this can be very effective for constipation. I find it easiest to add to a smoothie, but I’ve also added it to hummus which was quite yummy! You can also make a beet soup. If you do have IBS and follow a FODMAP diet, you’ll unfortunately have to pass on this one (unless you’ve already tried beets post elimination phase and you can tolerate them).
4- Tiger nuts- these are one of my new obsessions. They are a prebiotic, which means they are food for the good bacteria in your gut. They have 10 grams of fiber in 1 oz! Also, they are actually a root vegetable, despite their misleading name. So anyone with a nut allergy/intolerance, feel free to enjoy! Lastly, many people with IBS can’t tolerate prebiotics like chicory or Fructooligosaccharides, but tiger nuts are FODMAP friendly! These can be eaten whole, ground up in your smoothie, or sprinkled in yogurt or on top of a salad. Okay, I'll relax now, but seriously, I love these bad boys!!
5-Prebiotics and probiotics- speaking of prebiotics, it's important you take a probiotic, ideally one that has prebiotics in them (except if you have IBS, then take one without). Prebiotics are not digestible by our bodies, so, as stated above, they actually act as food for the good bacteria in our bodies- so cool! Probiotics are the good bacteria that we want to populate our guts. Make sure you're looking for a high quality probiotic, that can survive the stomach acid. Some beneficial strands for constipation are: Bifidobacterium Longum, Saccharomyces boulardii, and Lactobacillus reuteri. I'm happy to recommend some different brands depending on what you're looking to accomplish- just ask!
6-Magenisum citrate powder- this will help with constipation and will also help to relax the nervous system which is especially helpful if you’re dealing with a child who might be holding it in.
7-Oils: Oils help to help lubricate your system, and will help your poop to come out more smoothly. Here are a few that could help: Flaxseed oil, (just make sure you store this per the instructions- it can go rancid very quickly and rancid fats are not good for your body!! You can also ground your own flax seeds with a coffee grinder, which is better than buying pre made flax seeds as it has less of a chance of going or already being rancid.), Hemp oil, Coconut oil, Olive oil, Fish oil.
Make sure you’re not eating too much constipating foods such as bananas, apples, dairy, and processed foods. Cutting back on that alone might do the trick! Also, if the problem persists, you should always check with your doctor to rule out any serious causes. I always suggest seeing a functional medicine doctor, as they specialize in finding the root cause to your issues, and could also do some more advanced stool testing for dysbios (a bad ratio of bad to good bacteria in your gut) in your microbiota.
I hope this helps you to have painless, and poop filled days! This list is not exhaustive, and every BODY is different, so if you have specific questions and want to get more granular about your woes, please don't hesitate to reach out!