Getting healthy and detoxification are hot topics for the Spring. Each hot topic post this month will cover a health topic that relates to these themes.
When it comes to digestion, it’s important to have healthy function all year round. The sooner digestive issues are resolved, the sooner physiological balance can be attained. This often results in the resolution of other health issues.
Our digestive tract is our main organ of elimination. We have 5 organs of elimination:
1) The Intestines
2) The Liver
3) The Kidneys
4) The Lungs
5) The Skin
As you can see, the digestive tract makes up 2/5ths of the pie. When the digestive tract becomes compromised, and it’s roll of elimination is inhibited, health issues can develop in other systems. Everything is connected and these systems work harmoniously together. So if one gets bogged down, the others have to pick up the slack in their job as filters and waste eliminators for the body. If the collateral systems get overwhelmed, they can also become compromised.
This is how, in Naturopathic Medicine, we relate things like asthma, seasonal allergies, eczema, psoriasis, bronchitis and other ailments, to poor digestive function for some patients. As a Naturopathic Doctor I take a comprehensive history so I can dig deep, understand the root of the problem and connect all the dots (i.e. the symptoms).
Constipation: The Tie that Binds
Healthy bowel function equates to 1-3 bowel movements a day. I am still taken aback by patients who tell me their conventional doctor assures them that less than this is “normal” for their body. This is simply not true.
Everyday we are exposed to things our bodies need to filter and eliminate. Our body constantly takes in elements (e.g ingested, inhaled, absorbed). Good or bad, those elements are broken down and join the other breakdown products that are naturally occurring in our body every second. These are our waste products. They need to be regularly eliminated on a daily basis. If not, like my old prof used to eloquently say… “People drown in a milieu of their own crud.” (His words, not mine).
When wastes build up in the bloodstream and in other organ systems, our body’s normal function slows down, our defences drop and our body chemistry shifts. This sets us up for illness.
Some people have years of constipation and never have other health issues. Some people have health issues that hit them later in life as the natural ageing process sets in. Others deal with a lifetime of symptoms related to their constipation.
We are all biochemically different, and the way this digestive issue impacts people is different from one to the next. However, I can confidently say that most of the people I’ve talked who struggle with constipation feel it’s ill effects.
Why Laxatives Don’t Help
Many people try laxatives when all else fails. It’s a tough situation to be in because people are looking for relief, and the awareness about the dangers of prolonged use of laxatives is high, but when other options don’t help laxative use may be the next step.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I often visit with people who choose a natural laxative option thinking that it might be a safer route. However, they can still have a damaging effects to the bowels.
What Does Help?!
Here is what I have found helps. Remember… everyone is biochemically different. So as a ND, I customize the suggestions based on what I find a patient’s health history is. We may include one or a combination of things to restore regular digestive function and resolve constipation.
1) Support Digestion At the Level of the Stomach and/or Intestines
2) Include enough fiber in the diet. Specifically insoluble fiber.
3) Assess nutrition for food allergens or foods that slow digestion.
4) Address motility and digestive tract integrity using natural remedies. We want to strengthen the physiology and anatomy of the organ so it can do it’s job.
5) Address Liver and/or Gallbladder integrity using natural remedies
7) Stress Management
8) Essential Fatty Acids
Seems Like A Lot Of Work!
Resolving constipation and digestive strengthening is one of the most important paths to take in the journey of health. Longstanding constipation can put people at risk for developing countless acute and chronic illnesses.
Acute: Colds, flus, sinusitis, skin rashes, heartburn, indigestion, food allergies, seasonal allergies
Chronic: Arthritis, diverticulitis, gallstones, gastric reflux, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or colitis), irritable bowel disease, eczema, psoriasis, viral skin infections, bacterial skin infections, lung infections, obesity, hyperlipidemia, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, cancer.
Although it might seem like a lot of work, optimizing the health of our organs of elimination can provide a lifetime of amazing health and prevent the development of disease. For more information, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.