Author: Linda Sinden Date Posted:6 August 2018
- Do you have a bowel motion less frequent than daily, even if it is easy to pass?
- Or when you go to the bathroom do you find it can be difficult, even a strain, to pass a bowel motion?
- After a bowel motion does your elimination feel partial or incomplete?
- Is your stool, dry, hard or pebble like?
- Do you typically pass a bowel motion after having a cup of coffee or tea?
- Does your stool sink or float to the bottom of the toilet bowl?
- Does your stool break up easily when flushed?
If you said yes to one or more of the questions above, Ayurveda would say you are experiencing constipation. The Ayurvedic definition of constipation explains that it occurs when elimination does not take place easily and naturally, first thing upon rising. A healthy stool is fully formed and floating. When flushed it easily breaks up.
In looking for the cause of constipation, Ayurveda explains it is typically due to lifestyle and dietary choices that over time result in constipation. Key factors include
- Resisting or suppressing the urge to eliminate. In time this causes the urge to eliminate to disappear. It can also cause partial elimination so that afterwards one feels that it has not been full or complete. The natural urge to move the bowels just before dawn, or at dawn, can in this way become suppressed or even missing.
- Being too busy or absent-minded and not drinking 4-8 cups of warm water through the day. The intestinal tract does not receive the lubrication and nourishment it needs. Even worse, without adequate water in the diet partially digested food or toxins form in the bowel and are not adequately flushed out, but re-absorbed back into the blood stream.
- Taking mucous-forming foods which are hard to digest and clog peristalsis can lead to sluggish or slow elimination.
- Foods choices or dietary behaviours that contribute to constipation are
- Eating processed foods made by man and not by nature, such as packaged, frozen and tinned foods
- Eating meat, eggs or cheese for breakfast, after 2pm or in the evening meal
- Drinking ice-cold drinks with meals
- Eating leftovers
- Having a large or heavy evening meal
- Overeating - eating more than ¾ capacity at a meal time
- Eating before the previous meal is fully digested
- Eating a lot of cold, dry, raw, bitter or astringent foods
- Eating without full attention while reading, watching TV, or while using computers, tablets or mobile phones
- Using caffeine to prompt a sluggish bowel. Although it works overtime it leads to dryness in the bowel and a more chronic or acute form of constipation occurs.
- A sedentary lifestyle - lack of daily exercise.
Vata Apana - Primary sub area of Vata in the body
Vata Apana is one of the five winds of vata. It controls movement downwards into the pelvis and thereby controls elimination and reproduction. When this area becomes imbalanced the elimination and reproductive organs and functions take the strain and constipation can result.
When Apana Vata gets out of balance it first becomes dry. This creates the classic vata-based constipation where the colon is too dry and the stool becomes hard and impacted, or very difficult to pass. Treatment in this case aims to re-establish a moist and unctuous environment in the colon by using diet, exercise and herbals.
- Favour a warm, cooked, unctuous diet with predominantly sweet, sour and salty tastes. Include wholegrains; fruit such as mangos, grapes, pears, stewed apples and figs, vegetables such as zucchini, sweet potato, carrots; soaked raisins and prunes; ghee and olive oil; and boiled milk. Avoid hard to digest food such as cheese, pizza, red meat and heavy breads. Cooked leafy greens are OK but it is best to avoid raw vegetables and salads. Drink plenty of warm water, this will both assist with lubricating dry stools and cleaning out impurities in the digestive system. In the case of constipation, impurities sit in the digestive tract and are then reabsorbed into the blood stream, so supporting the liver is important.
- Spices such as fennel seed, turmeric, cumin and coriander fried in ghee aid overall digestion.
- Drink 4-6 cups of Vata Tea throughout the day.
- Have a 30 minutes walk first thing in the morning. Breathe deeply through the nose and swing your arms when walking.
- Take Digest Plus 1-2 tablet after 2 times a day and Liver Care 2 tablets prior meals 2 times a day with Digest Tone 2 tablets prior evening meal.
- At bedtime take 2-4 tablets of Digest Tone.
If Vata by nature or imbalance take with warm water
If Pitta by nature or signs of imbalance take with a teaspoon of ghee
If Kapha by nature or signs of imbalance take with 1 tsp of honey
- Aim to have your largest meal at lunch time and a light evening meal by 6.30pm.
- Where you can have an evening walk after your evening meal to aid digestion.
Elimination is part of the whole digestive process and begins with how we eat our food. Chewing well, eating in a settled way by sitting to eat without being distracted by the TV or computer, waiting for at least 5 minutes after meals then taking a short walk, all contribute towards smooth digestion and elimination. Cleaning the tongue first thing in the morning and then having a drink of warm water with a squeeze of lemon is also useful in stimulating the bowel.
Wishing you the bliss of regular elimination each and every day.