Last month, we took rather an in depth look at the importance of bowel health. At the end of that article, I promised that this month, we’d take an Up Close and Personal look at what we can do in our day to day lives to pamper and care for our bowel- and how doing so will improve our overall health –and beauty.
Before we begin however, I should point out: constipation is NOT a laughing matter! It can actually lead to death, especially in older people. Severe and ongoing constipation can lead to a condition called ‘fecal impaction’, and if you think Autointoxication isn’t a thing, just study the symptoms of this potentially death-inducing condition: nausea and vomiting, trouble breathing, inability to urinate, low blood pressure, sweating, dizziness, confusion, fever, distended abdomen, and back and stomach pain. All that built up poison has to come out- and if it doesn’t, the body SUFFERS- and DIES. It can happen to the best of us…
It’s reported that upon autopsy, Elvis had at least 15 pounds of impacted feces trapped in his bowel. FIFTEEN POUNDS. Constipation and Autointoxication can happen to any of us, especially in this day and age of high opioid use and an aging population.
Maintaining a healthy bowel – and having regular bowel movements is simply paramount to every single aspect of health and beauty. Laxatives actually interfere with achieving this goal, as do many medications -both OTC and Prescription- while diet, lifestyle and activity level can impact bowel health for the better. Now, that’s empowering!
Let’s take a look:
- Making certain you’re properly hydrated on a regular basis makes a huge difference. (More on that in a bit!)
- Eating enough high-quality fat in your diet to keep the gallbladder working is also important. (Also more on that in a bit!)
- Consuming enough fresh fruits and vegetables also helps.
- And the right kind of fiber -in the right amount- is pretty much the Fairy Godmother of bowel health!
Now, I can hear you asking: How much? When? What kind(s)??? ‘Just so happens, I have answers. Let’s start with fiber.
Fiber helps us in many ways. It helps maintain a healthy weight, serves to stabilize blood sugar and works to create healthier cholesterol levels. It comes in two basics forms: insoluble and soluble, and both are necessary and beneficial to overall bowel health.
How to tell them apart? Simple:
Insoluble fiber comes in ‘dry’ things… think grain husks, seeds and veggie/fruit skins.
Insoluble fiber doesn’t absorb water but serves as a spiffy sweeper of the bowel. It’s a great bulking agent to enhance bowel movements.
Soluble fiber absorbs water and when it does, turns to a gelatinous mass or mush. This type of fiber helps add bulk to the stool, easing it’s exit from the body- taking with it beauty-ruining toxins and excess cholesterol.
Now that we’ve distinguished the difference, let’s take a look at some of the commercial fiber supplements available on the market (by key ingredient not commercial product name).
The gals in my family (myself included) are partial to organic Psyllium Husk Powder. Made from finely ground husks of the Plantago ovata plant, Psyllium Husk Powder provides twice the fiber of straight psyllium husks. It’s also gluten free which is important to me and my little buddy, Celiac Disease. It’s thought to help alleviate the pain of IBS and Crohn’s Disease.
Next comes Inulin. This is a prebiotic-supporting fiber and is thought to be quite beneficial to the gut biome, feeding the beneficial bacteria found in the bowel and helping them to thrive.
Then there is Methylcellulose, derived from plant cellulose. This fiber is believed to be non-fermentable which equates to less gas and bloating.
These forms of fiber are considered to be the most beneficial and benign, bringing with them numerous different bowel-health benefits. There are other fiber sources out there but the coarser, grain-derived fibers can cut and striate the bowel as they move through it.
If you choose a fiber supplement to incorporate into your daily routine, do your research first and be sure to select the one that addresses your additional health issues and concerns, such as: cholesterol, cardiac, blood sugar and weight issues. It’s suggested that women get 25 grams of fiber and men shoot for 30-38 grams per day.
And also know this: with fiber consumption, comes the risk of increased constipation. Yes, you read that right! It takes water to move fiber through your system effectively and most of us are consistently dehydrated.
If you’re a regular reader of my articles, you already know the formula for maintaining accurate hydration levels for your body weight. If not, here ya go: Take your body weight and divide that number in two. That number is the amount of water per day, in ounces, that you must have to keep all systems GO. Example: 150 pounds /2= 75 ounces. Got it? Good! Now try to consume even a bit more than that to keep the fiber moving on down the track at a timely clip. And also bear this in mind: most fiber should be consumed well away from food or supplements.
Certain types of fiber can cause deficiencies in fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K, so Beware!
High quality fats are quite important and necessary to your overall health and they also keep the gallbladder pumping out bile, which helps in turn with digestion and assimilation of nutrients. The gallbladder plays a vital role in digestion, overall health and proper elimination and more studies are starting to bear this out.
And one final empowering tip: staying active works miracles! If you’re looking to ramp up your bowel health, exercise is a non-negotiable! Leading a sedentary life slows EVERYTHING down—bowel movements included. Even if you only take a walk around the block each day- that will have a positive impact. And if you want to carry it even one step further, there are inventions out there in the marketplace designed to get you in perfect bowel-moving alignment while on the toilet. Crazy as they seem – THEY WORK.
Stretch, do yoga, walk, jog, lift weights, enjoy regular saunas, play with the dog or cat… the bottom line? (Yes I said that…) MOVE -and your bowels will too. Now, GET GOING! Your skin -and the rest of you- will thank you!
Health and Beauty has been Carrie E. Pierce’s career focus for over 28 years. Throughout her career, Carrie has served as: Guest and Corporate Makeup Artist for numerous major, international cosmetic companies and as a Hollywood film, TV and special effects makeup artist. She’s provided skin care and makeup services for the fashion industry, as well as restorative make up procedures for burn and scar patients, cancer patients, domestic violence survivors and women suffering with self-esteem issues. Carrie is a licensed Aesthetician, Certified Color Analyst, Menopause Skin Care Specialist, Author, Public Speaker and served as co host of the syndicated radio show ‘Magnificent Menopause & Beyond©’. It’s her mission and her passion to help women be the best they can be – especially as they move through Midlife! Find out more www.MidlifeMystique.com