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By: Lynda Griparic

It’s a common problem that most people avoid talking about. I, on the other hand, love discussing constipation, particularly because it can be a big indicator of your current health. Constipation has many causes, from poor diet and fluid intake to the presence of a pathogen (bacteria, fungi) to emotional imbalance.

Here are my top 15 ways to help get the bowels moving right now:

  1. 1. Express yourself­. Holding on to past memories or emotions can lead to anxiety and amplify stress. During stressful times it’s common to hold on to our poo as well. In Chinese medicine, when the large intestine (aka our garbage collector) is out of balance, it’s associated with an inability to grieve and let go. As a result, our bowel movements become sluggish and we store and recycle our waste, collecting toxins, bad breath, and all sorts of unpleasant conditions along the way.


  1. 2. Eat fibre­. Every meal should contain a portion of fibrous food such as brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, berries, and avocado. Fibre helps move waste through our digestive system and is also food for your gut bacteria. A healthy, diverse gut flora is important for regular bowel movements.
  1. 3. Include foods with prebiotics and probiotics. These guys are food and fertiliser for gut bacteria, stimulating their growth and encouraging regular bowel movements. Good sources of prebiotics are asparagus, artichokes, green banana and cooled brown rice. Good sources of probiotics are kombucha, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi, and apple cider vinegar. Gradually increase the probiotics like fermented veggies, sauerkraut, and kimchi in your diet to let the gut adjust to a new bacterial environment. Start with 1 teaspoon with meals, increasing to 1 tablespoon.
  1. 4. Drink lots of purified water. Water has the power to nudge waste out of your colon. The amount will depend on your activity levels, but as a general rule aim for 1½ litres daily. Add ¼ teaspoon of Himalayan salt to your water to enhance absorption. Fluids should be warm or room temperature. Warmth loosens, unblocks, and welcomes muscle relaxation. Cold seizes and constricts.
  1. 5. Avoid excessive protein. Stick to a palm portion of quality protein per meal. Undigested protein can putrefy (rot) in the bowel and stimulate the growth of bacteria. This toxicity can over-burden the liver, reducing it’s ability to effectively remove toxins and metabolic waste from the body. This can lead to chronic disease. Excess protein can also over-tax the stomach, reducing its ability to produce enough stomach acid to digest and use nutrients well.
  1. 6. Follow a routine. Routine can dramatically improve constipation. To promote a healthy evacuation, your morning may include 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in warm water upon rising, followed by a smoothie rich in fats and fibre. Relax for 15 minutes post-breakfast, calmly plan your day ahead, read a blog post, or engage in calm conversation
  1. 7. Use a standing desk. Sitting, particularly after eating, can slow digestion down because it compresses the abdominal organs. Sluggish digestion can lead to constipation and an imbalance in your gut microbiome (gut flora). Try standing or using a standing desk after meals instead.
  1. 8. Squat or use a squatting platform. When we use the common seated toilet we push poo up, against gravity. Squatting or using a squat platform such as Squatty Potty allows for a more natural angle and pressure. This straightens the anorectal angle and unkinks the sigmoid colon and creates an easier passage for poo to leave the colon.
  1. 9. Add herbs and spices to your dishes­. Certain herbs and spices nourish the organs of digestion and elimination, such as the liver, kidneys, stomach, and spleen. They improve overall breakdown of food and can dislodge the waste that clings to your intestinal walls. Add them to your meals, smoothies, teas, slow-cooked dishes, and salads daily. My favorites are: turmeric cayenne ginger oregano black pepper rosemary coriander seeds cloves cumin liquorice fennel Try my organic BetterMe tea blend for sluggish bowels
  1. 10. Try Yin Yoga­. Yin Yoga works on improving the health of organs, bones, joints, connective tissue, fascia, and the mind and incorporates breathwork. A class that works on the lungs and large intestine can help unlock constipated colon doors. If you’ve been holding on to grief and are unable to let go and move forward in life, supporting these organs can dramatically change this current reality. Try the Digestive Support Yin Yoga Sequence Video. Abdomen and spine exercises are also excellent for improving bowel tone and health.
  1. 11. Do some breathwork. When the flow of breath is laboured or short, the mind becomes agitated, stress and anxiety are amplified, and not enough nutrients get to areas in your body like your digestive system. Without breath, there is tension, blockage, and resistance. Ten minutes of breathwork daily can help regulate bowel movements. I find deep belly breathing, alternate nostril breathing, kundalini breath of fire and the Wim Hof method to be most helpful.
  1. 12. Don’t forget the apple cider vinegar­. ACV improves the production of stomach acid, which means a more effective breakdown and absorption of foods and better elimination of waste. Aim for 1 tablespoon of ACV in warm water upon rising or 10 minutes before meals.
  1. 13. Get your intake of healthy fats­. Our intestinal cell walls are made up of fat; therefore they need fats to function well. Healthy fats such as coconut, olive, and macadamia oil; avocado; oily fish; butter; nuts; and seeds lubricate the bowels and help move waste through the colon.
  1. 14. Try a little ileocecal valve massage­. Sometimes the ileocecal valve, located between the small intestine and large intestine, doesn’t work well. This can lead to a backlog of poop in the small intestine and constipation. You can massage reflex points to improve its function. Dr David Williams explains how to massage reflex points to improve its function. I personally massage my abdomen daily using the Mayan abdominal technique.
  1. 15. Take your magnesium­. Magnesium is a muscle (intestinal wall muscles included) and nervous system relaxant, making it perfect for alleviating constipation, stress, and anxiety. I use magnesium bisglycinate as it’s easily absorbed and gets to the areas I want to target before performing its magic. 

If you try all of these suggestions however continue to have issues with sluggish bowels you may need to see a naturopath for personalised care and further investigation. See 4 Week Comprehensive Bowel Care Program.

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