Let's set aside taboos for a minute and talk about poop. We all do it—unfortunately some of us less than others. In fact, according to WebMD, a person can go anywhere from three times a day to three times a week and be considered normal. And that brings us to our big topic of the day:
constipation (courtesy of dictionary.com)
/ˌkɒn stəˈpeɪ ʃən/
1. a condition of the bowels in which the feces are dry and hardened and evacuation is difficult and infrequent.
2. Informal. a state of slowing down, sluggishness, or inactivity.
3. Obsolete. the act of crowding anything into a smaller compass; condensation.
According to health.usnews.com:
Roughly 12 to 19 percent of the population in North America -- as many as 63 million people -- suffer from constipation, according to the review.
In the United States, the direct cost of treating constipation is about $235 million a year, another study has found. Inpatient care was responsible for 55 percent of the cost, even though constipation is treated mainly in outpatient settings.
So, according to WebMD again, fecal matter is what is leftover after nutrients from your food is absorbed into the bloodstream and it's usually eliminated within one to two days. Constipation happens when a person either goes less than three times in a week, doesn't empty when they go, or has to struggle to get it out. The longer it sits in there, the harder it gets, so it should be an in-between consistency.
So, now that everyone is either giggling, thoroughly grossed out or so scandalized by the subject matter of this post that they've stopped reading, let's talk about what you can do about it.
I was recently asked about cleanses, and, to be honest, I don't do a ton of juice cleansing or the like. But if you want to clean things out, I've got a few suggestions for you:
First of all, I'm going to sound like a broken record, but simple healthy habits can go a long way—eat real, whole foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains; drink plenty of water, especially first thing in the morning; avoid processed foods; and stay active, even if that just means briskly walking.
Now, for the times that it just isn't enough or you go on vacation or have a holiday and things get thrown out of whack, I do have a couple backup suggestions for you. I personally don't recommend Dulcolax, Miralax or Linzess if you can avoid it. Try this first:
Smooth Move—This is an herbal tea which contains Senna, a natural laxative. It's the closest thing to a cleanse that I can suggest, and it will do the trick. Brew a cup before bed and when you awake you will be cleansed. It's not like an over-the-counter laxative that has you constantly running to the bathroom afraid you're going to have an accident only to be disappointed, but it will get the job done. And it's a natural solution. As a bonus it comes in regular, peppermint (which does wonders for heartburn) and chamomile.
My second solution isn't as natural, but it works pretty well too: Colace. This is a stool softener, so it doesn't expel things like a laxative. It also seems to continue working for days after being taken once.
So there you have it. Anyone who's close to me will tell you that I'm pretty open when it comes to functions of the colon. Those of us with tummy problems need to band together and help each other out. Because anyone who's had tummy problems can attest to the fact that a happy tummy is a happy (or at least happier) life.
And as an Easter egg, did anyone notice how many colons I managed to use in this post? Get it? Colons? I'm too much sometimes.