“Not to cleanse the colon is like having the entire garbage collecting staff in your city go on strike for days on end. The accumulation of garbage in the street creates putrid, odoriferous, unhealthy gases which are dispersed into the atmosphere.” – Dr. Norman Walker
Taking Care Of Your Bowels
Duty calls. Healthy elimination could be the key to your health. According to Ayurvedic medicine, the oldest form of holistic medicine-our elimination can tell us a lot about our health. In such, I always ask my Ayurvedic clients, “How is your elimination?”, nine times out of ten, the client turns pink and quickly and quietly says, “normal.”
Your bowels and the removal of waste through proper excretions are critical to your health. According to Ayurveda, 80% of disease originates in the digestive tract. “Normal” is too vague.
3 things that matter when it comes to digestion and elimination:
- What we eat.
- How we break it down and assimilate it.
- How we get rid of the waste.
“If the sewer system in your home is backed up, your entire home is affected. Should it be any different in your body?” – Dr. Norman Walker
The term “normal” in reference to bowel movements varies from person to person. Generally, less than 3 movements in a week mean your bowels are sluggish, and more than 3 in a day means your bowels are hyper. Ideally, we want our stools to be formed into the shape of a capital letter J. The stool should be smooth and easy to pass. Stools that are dry and pellet-like or require pushing are indicative of cold, rough, and dry conditions.
6 Ways To Promote Proper Elimination
1. Eat More Roughage
Cooked roughage is easier to break down and smoother to pass. Raw and cold foods require the heated atmosphere of our digestive fire to do all the work.
When we cook food, we initiate the release of active enzymes and alleviate our bodies from facilitating 100% of the conversion. Cooking roughage like spinach, kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower also help release the water content that is locked into the vegetables.
Cooking converts the texture from dry and hard to moist and soft. Moist and soft is easier to assimilate and pass. Avoid over-cooking veggies as to retain nutrients. You want the vegetable to keep its coloring and a hint of crunch to assure you have retained the nutritional value.
Burnt veggies are devoid of nutrients because at that point you’ve cooked out all the Prana, or life force. Think of it in terms of sunbathing. Thirty minutes in the sun gives you a nice warm glow and enhances your vitality, while a whole day in the direct sun leaves you charred and energetically wiped out.
We want the warm glow and vitality version of cooking. Sauté, stir-fry, bake, roast, and simmer. Do not burn.
2. Use Healthy Oils
Use oils like olive oil, coconut oil, grape seed oil, and ghee in foods to create lubrication. There are approximately 25 feet from the mouth to the anus.
If the channels are dry and rough, particles get stuck. Stuck particles stagnate into toxic buildup. Lubricated pipes are essential for good plumbing. In addition to lubrication, vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning they will not dissolve without the presence of fat.
Good fats function as excellent vehicles for driving essential nutrients into the tissues. Olive oil should not get too hot. You can drizzle olive oil on salads, roasted vegetables (after cooking), and grains. Coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and ghee are excellent cooking agents. I use these oils for sautéing and baking.
You can also add a generous dab to soups, grains, and roasted vegetables. For example, I’ll have a teaspoon of ghee in oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon or a teaspoon of coconut oil on a sweet potato with a pinch of cardamom.
3. Drink More Water
It would be tricky to wash your car without water. It is just as tricky to wash your intestines without water. Water should be the staple fluid in your world.
Sometimes, we think we’re drinking enough but we need to keep in mind that not all fluids are hydrating. Coffee, soda, and other caffeinated beverages cause more frequent urination and promote dehydration.
Fruit juices that are high in electrolytes and mineral potassium serve as diuretics as well. Pineapple and citrus juices have their benefits, but they are not hydrating.
And sorry gals, alcohol doesn’t count either. Recently, I had a client complain of constipation. When I inquired about her fluid intake she told me she drinks “plenty.” She said it with a cute confident smile. She was so confident I nearly just moved on to deeper inquiries, but something told me to ask her to elaborate.
I asked her specifically what she drinks. She told me she has two cups of coffee in the morning, a diet coke at work, green tea on the way to the gym, a glass of water with dinner, and a glass of wine before bed. She was correct. She was drinking, but with the exception of her water with dinner, all of her fluids were diuretics that were actually drying her out.
She made a few adjustments by adding a glass of warm water in the morning, drinking her two cups of coffee, and then switching to warm water with lemon in the afternoon and evening, and a mug of golden milk (and Ayurvedic elixir made with turmeric, ginger, cardamon, nutmeg and cinnamon) to replace her wine before bed.
She reported back that her bowels became normal, and she enthusiastically added in that her wrinkles diminished. I smiled and explained that wrinkles are the result of dryness. We must stay hydrated from the inside out to maintain that dewy glow.
Exact water needs vary based on a person’s size, environment, and activity level. Nothing about taking care of ourselves is exact for everyone across the board. We’re simply different from one another.
Generally, people who live in arid climates like the desert and people with very slight builds and crackly joints, require even more water to counterbalance the abundance of dryness. Athletes tend to need more water because of the sweat more. It’s important to replenish lost fluids.
In the summer, everyone sweats more, so we should all drink more. Even though it may be hot outside, remember not to douse your GI with ice cold water because that sort of extreme will create an imbalance and completely extinguish your digestive fire.
In the summer, room temperature water is perfect. If you wait until you are thirsty to drink, you are already dehydrated. Generally, drinking about 8 glasses of warm or room temperature water a day is a good baseline.
Remember to start your day with warm water to nudge motility. Drinking warm water after brushing your teeth and scraping your tongue will help flush residual toxins out of the body.
It is important to note that there is such thing as drinking too much water. Drinking too much can tax your kidneys and dilute your digestive fire. Balance requires moderation. Too much of anything can create an imbalance – water included.
4. Remove Dairy And Red Meat
Heavy animal products are difficult to process and delay transient time. A vegetarian meal takes on average 27-61 hours to digest and exit, whereas a non-vegetarian meal can take up to 96 hours to break down and pass.
Dairy and red meat are the hardest to break down. They create cellular inflammation and congestion that cause the intestinal lining to swell. Essentially everything gets puffy, slow, and irritated. Puffy, slow, and irritated are not the kind of qualities that drive movement. Lighter foods, such as plant-based foods, digest faster and easier than animal products.
5. Eat More Fiber
Fiber gets things moving! Soluble fiber attracts water and helps create a gel-like bind. Apples, beans, oats, and flax seeds are great sources. Insoluble fiber cannot be broken down, so it acts like a broom sweeping through the GI grabbing food and speeding it along.
Great sources include broccoli, whole grains, nuts, leafy greens, and grapes. We can get all the fiber we need from a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
A perfect example of a daily meal plan with adequate fiber would be: quinoa with baked apples and cinnamon and ghee for breakfast, a sweet potato with flax seed and coconut oil with sautéed broccoli drizzled with olive oil for lunch, a few nuts or fresh fruit as a snack, and a broth-based bean soup for dinner.
6. Elimination Is A Movement
Movement propels movement. Exercise, move your body, stretch, twist, walk, jump, swim, and dance. Get creative. It doesn’t have to be a formal workout. Exercise accelerates your breathing and heart rate. This helps to stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles. Muscle contractions expedite the elimination process. Yoga moves like bending and twisting help to free up space for the digestive organs while stimulating peristalsis. Get moving to get things moving.