In the vast and intricate landscape of human health, where each biological process harmonizes to create the symphony of our well-being, one aspect often overlooked yet vitally important is the role of bowel movements. This fundamental bodily function, though seldom discussed openly in the corridors of conventional medicine, holds profound significance within the realm of functional medicine. It serves as a critical indicator of our internal ecosystem's health and balance, echoing the principles of holistic care and preventive health.
Functional medicine, a discipline where the focus extends beyond the mere alleviation of symptoms to address the root causes of health concerns, recognizes the significance of bowel movements as a mirror reflecting the overall health of an individual. It's a lens through which practitioners can observe the intricate interplay between diet, digestion, absorption, and the elimination of waste. This perspective allows for a comprehensive understanding of a patient's health status, providing insights into potential imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, or underlying health conditions that may otherwise remain obscured.
The importance of bowel movements transcends the simple act of waste elimination. It encompasses the delicate balance of gut flora, the absorption of essential nutrients, and the body's natural detoxification processes. A healthy, regular bowel movement is a testament to the efficient functioning of this complex system, indicative of optimal digestive health, a robust immune system, and an effective detoxification pathway. Conversely, irregularities in this process can signal disturbances within the body's internal environment, manifesting as symptoms that can range from the seemingly benign to the overtly symptomatic, all pointing towards an underlying disharmony within.
Let’s delve into the world of supporting healthy bowel function and understanding our body's digestive processes. Everything we encounter throughout the day–food, water, and environmental factors–can affect our digestive health.
Our metabolism, which is always excreting excess hormones and removing toxins, is also affected. It even plays a part in mental health, brain function, and can affect our emotional well being.
Our intestines, the primary part of our beautifully designed and complex digestive system, absorb vital nutrients and eliminate waste as they process food.
One helpful guide is the Bristol Stool Chart, a thoughtful visual tool that can show us where we fall and where we want to be.
Now let’s take a moment to dive into daily practices that assist and restore our elimination pathways.
Dietary fiber intake aids in forming stool and promotes regular bowel movements by adding bulk to the stool and facilitating its passage through the digestive tract, thereby enhancing overall digestive health.
Hydration helps our muscles including the colon as well as softens stool, making it easier to pass. Before grabbing that cup of coffee first thing in the morning try some lemon water to get things going. Caffeine can dehydrate and constrict those muscles so hydrate first thing!
Physical Activity and stretching stimulates intestinal muscles, aiding in bowel movement regularity. Think of a deep squat that as kids we were able to do with little strain. As we grow up most people lose that ability and balance becomes an issue. Practicing a deep squat is an excellent way for aligning the pelvis and colon so there is no ‘kink” in the piping. Another way to achieve this is a Squatty potty.
Probiotics provide beneficial bacteria and can be found in fermented foods or supplements. Not all probiotics are the same. If you have questions feel free to reach out with what products may work best for you.
High stress levels can impact bowel function, so managing stress through techniques like meditation, yoga, or therapy is important.
Mindful eating leads to chewing your food properly and without the distraction of a screen. It greatly benefits the digestive enzyme production needed to break down nutrients in our food.
Medication Review: Some medications can affect bowel movements; consulting a healthcare provider about side effects is beneficial to creating an action plan.
Highly absorbable and one of the most popular supplements for improving bowel movements.
Works by attracting water into the intestines, which increases stool volume and makes it easier to pass. *** Be sure to hydrate well when consuming this form as it draws water into the bowels and can dehydrate the other organ systems if you do not stay well hydrated ***
Often used as a laxative for short-term relief of constipation due to its ability to retain water in the colon.
Less bioavailable than other forms, but effective in higher doses for bowel movements.
Epsom salt baths allow magnesium to be absorbed through the skin, promoting muscle relaxation and potentially easing the discomfort associated with constipation.
It is important to use a water filter on the bath faucet so the water is reduced of impurities before soaking.
Known for its calming effects on the brain and muscles, making it less directly effective for constipation but beneficial for overall digestive health.
It can be a good choice for individuals who need magnesium supplementation without the strong laxative effect.
Several of my favorite products by Cellcore are useful in supporting digestion and our bowel function goals.
To purchase CellCore products click the product link below and use Dr. Leila Doolittle's practitioner code ZVAXYIG4 (I as in igloo).
At Resonance Wellness we offer various therapies, such as effective detox therapies like the Abdominal Soft Tissue Mobilization. This therapy activates the vagus nerve to stimulate parasympathetic function and the lymphatic system around the abdominal region to support detoxification from the abdominal organs. This can be a free standing appointment or can be booked as an add-on to chiropractic or lymphatic therapy. You can also book a complementary discovery call to see which therapy is the best choice for you.
To book an Abdominal Soft Tissue Mobilization appointment click here.
Thank you for exploring this topic with me, as it has a profound impact on our overall well being. Let’s move forward with these insights and knowledge, remembering that every small step we take towards supporting our digestive health is a step towards a more vibrant, balanced, and fulfilling life.