Looking after your bowel health sometimes requires more than just watching what you eat. WellBeing offers some yoga poses that will help you keep things moving along nicely.
The modern diet of meat, eggs, cheese and refined starch products such as cakes, pastries and bread offers our bodies little else but excessive protein and requires a lot of energy for digestion.
Can you imagine how toxic and polluted our suburbs would become if the garbage collectors decided not to come for a few weeks? While our suburbs can get away with a weekly clean-out, our bowels require more regular cleaning, preferably daily. For us to have good health, high vitality and freedom from disease, it’s essential that the waste products from our bodies be expelled regularly and efficiently.
According to Ayurvedic practitioner, Raman Das Mahatyagi, while the Western system says if you don’t go to the toilet for three days, you are constipated, Ayurveda (the ancient science of life) says if you don’t go once a day, then you’re constipated. “So many clients who come to me have constipation and many don’t realise they have it,” he says.
Constipation is a chronic disorder of the lower digestive system. Decreased mobility of the intestines makes the elimination of solid wastes from the body difficult, infrequent, slow and inefficient. When faeces remain in the colon for prolonged periods of time, excessive water is absorbed from them, making them dry and hard.
If the bowel is not working effectively, the body becomes toxic from the build-up of digestive and metabolic wastes that accumulate in the large intestine. This can lead to the intestine becoming flaccid and losing its muscular tone. As this gets worse and rotting wastes are held in store for long periods, undigested foods that are stuck in the intestine move upwards, toxifying the rest of the body.
“Constipation can agitate and block the mind,” says Ayurveda expert, Dr Rama Prasad. “In fact, a relaxed colon is responsible for a relaxed mind.” Whatever happens to the body affects the mind. The digestive system, surrounding tissues and organs suffer when your digestive system is not working efficiently. Additionally, your physical energy level is reduced and your mind becomes dull and listless.
What causes irregular bowel movement?
In the West, it’s believed that constipation is caused by any of the following:
- Insufficient fibre in the diet
- Inadequate fluid intake
- Lack of exercise
- Emotional disturbance (grief, fear or worry)
- Spasms of the colon
Dr Prasad adds a few extra angles to the issue. “Constipation can be triggered by lack of exercise, dehydration, the intake of certain oils and fats, lack of fibre, mucus and enzyme problems as well as psychological issues.”
Whatever food we put into our bodies affects the quality and quantity of what is expelled at the other end of the digestive tract. The modern diet of meat, eggs, cheese and refined starch products such as cakes, pastries and bread offers our bodies little else but excessive protein and requires a lot of energy for digestion.
Raman Das says constipation is mostly due to eating processed foods such as pasta, pizza and processed white bread and not getting enough fibre. “Eating meat can also cause constipation,” he says. Fibre attracts and absorbs water and helps to prevent constipation. The body needs fibre in order to be regular and foods of animal origin do not contain dietary fibre.