Typically, constipation is thought of as being unable to poop, usually accompanied by all sorts of fun symptoms like bloat, gas, and general discomfort. But according to Fiber Fueled author and gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, MD, you can still be constipated even if you poop every day.
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"This is a little-known, but highly important fact for anyone with a damaged gut who is trying to heal," Dr. Bulsiewicz shared on Instagram. "I see this daily in my gastroenterology practice; patients who poop at least once a day can’t possibly imagine that they’re constipated, but the reason that they’re suffering with abdominal discomfort, gas and bloating, a distended stomach, nausea, loss of appetite, or even acid reflux is actually constipation."
Part of this is because people can be pooping in small amounts every day without fully emptying their bowels. "Let’s pretend you empty [your bowels] 70 percent," he writes. "Well, that means you have 30 percent backing up. Compound that a few days in a row, and next thing you know you’re super constipated." He even says that regular boats of diarrhea can be linked to constipation, because per Harvard Health, liquid stool can leak around the stuck feces in the bowel, which can look like diarrhea.
No matter what constipation looks like, the reason is often the same: the digestive system isn't operating in a good, natural rhythm. But addressing constipation can really help a variety of gut issues, says Dr. Bulsiewicz. "[With most people], when you fix their constipation, most of the time it becomes a lot easier for them to start eating beans and other gas producing foods," he says. "It really alleviates the food sensitivity and allows them to open up their diet, rather than feeling the pressure to restrict it."
How do you treat constipation? The key according to the G.I. doc is first, clearing it out and then getting into an established rhythm of eating fiber-rich foods on a regular basis. One way he recommends clearing out the constipation is drinking magnesium citrate. "It doesn't completely clear the colon, but it will clear it enough to relieve the constipation," Dr. Bulsiewicz says. He adds that it can also help to take a magnesium citrate supplement at night and a fiber supplement in the morning, to help kickstart the rhythm fueled by fiber-rich foods. Other natural remedies for constipation include drinking lots of water and getting regular exercise to help keep things moving.
Well, it certainly helps to be *flush* with knowledge, right? Hopefully these poop truth bombs will help on how to clear up constipation. It also never hurts to get the opinion of a G.I. doc, to ensure nothing more serious is the culprit. If you're constipated on a regular basis, don't be shy about booking an appointment, even a virtual one. Don't worry, they love talking about gas and poop. Your business (or lack there of) is literally their business.
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