Okay, it’s a yucky subject… but many people struggle with diarrhea and/ or constipation. Ideally, we should have at least 2-3 bowel movements a day. Do you ever wonder what causes diarrhea or constipation? Let’s take take a quick look at this embarrassing topic.
Diarrhea refers to stools that are loose, runny or liquid (rather than soild.) Diarrhea may be caused by indigestion, bacteria, virsuses, parasites, or autoimmune problems such as inflammatory bowel diseases. With indigestion, the food you’ve eaten moves too quickly through the GI tract, and there is not enough time for sufficient nutrients and water to be absorbed. That’s when you get diarrhea.
What Causes Diarrhea?
(1) Undesirable micro organisms. We might eat or drink something that doesn’t agree with us. Whenever possible, avoid eating food that is rancid or spoiled. Some people cut the “bruise” or rotten spots off of fruit and veggies. It’s better to throw them away, and get something fresh. You may not be able to see parts of the produce that have begun to break down or ferment. Also, be careful with meats and make sure they are cooked properly.
(2) Food intolerances (like lactose intolerance, or allergies) Pay attention to the foods you’ve eaten when you experience diarrhea. You may be allergic or experience a reaction to certain foods. Cheese, for instance, is something that most people eat without thinking about it. However, cheese can aggrevate allergies, congestion, headaches, sore throat, and it can cause constipation.
(3) Stress. If you’re stressed out, your cortisol and insulin levels are elevated. Your body may be in “fight or flight” mode, rather than “rest + digest.”
Why don’t we quickly eliminate the things our bodies don’t need? It makes sense that your body would want things to move quickly through your system. Your body doesn’t want to spend time digesting foods that it cannot properly extract nutrients from or that are laced with disease-causing microbes. Of course, you have a real problem is your system is backed up, blocked or simply overwhelmed. That is when your bowels and colon aren’t working at normal capacity.
Stress can cause transit time to shorten by messing with your enteric nervous system. You see, your enteric nervous system controls the reflex contractions that enable you to have a bowel movement. Your enteric nervous system is a part of your autonomic nervous system, and your autonomic nervous system regulates your physiological responses to emotional and physical stress.
When waste material travels through your colon more slowly than it should, so much water is sucked out of your waste material that your stools become hard.
What Causes Constipation?
(1) Infrequent bowel movements. Everyone should have 2- 3 bowel movements a day. Anything less results in constipation. That’s why you should make bathroom time a part of your day. Never supress the urge to go. Take the time to sit down on the commode, even if you don’t feel an urge to go. If you constipated, a colon cleanse will help you get regular again.
(2) Travel or a disruption in your regular schedule. If we’re busy and on-the-go, it’s a challenge to stay regular.
(3) Lack of a healthy intestinal lining that is capable of producing enough mucous to properly lubricate your stools. If this is the case, you might be deficient in Vitamin A or Vitamin D.
(4) Not drinking enough water. Be sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily, and eat plenty of water-rich foods.
(5) Poor diet. At best, you should be eating at least 5 servings of fruit and veggies every day. Avoid or minimize junk food, sugar, unrefined white flour products, fried foods, fast food, and anything processed. Try to eat as close to whole, natural food as possible. For instance, oatmeal is better than corn flakes (because they’ve been processed.)
(6) Stress. If you’re stressed out, your body is in a state of persistent, heightened alert and “rest + digest” functions may be suppressed. Take time out to relax, unwind and de-stress every day.