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Every day you eat a few meals and snacks and wash them down with some beverages. That’s usually the last thought you give to your food. But what goes in must come out. Your food travels the length of your digestive tract where vital nutrients are absorbed, healthy bacteria are (hopefully) nourished, and waste is removed from the body. You might not want to think about it, but bowel elimination is one of the most important functions of your body.

What Is Normal?

In conventional medicine, a bowel movement as infrequently as three times a week is considered normal. I can tell you right now, that’s NOT normal. If you eat three meals a day and all that comes out is one bowel movement every other day, you are constipated. Just think about it. Where does all that waste go?

Holistic practitioners consider a minimum of one (up to three) bowel movements per day to be normal. I like to think about size. If you are eating 35 grams of fiber daily, your stool for one day should measure about a foot and a half. That might be broken up into two or three different movements, or just one. Now, I don’t expect you to get out a ruler or anything, but a good, healthy bowel movement is larger than you might think.

It’s All About Transit

Transit time is the time it takes for food to pass through the entire gastrointestinal tract. Optimal transit time is 24 to 30 hours, but it is quite common for people to have a bowel transit of 48 hours or more. That means wastes sits inside the body for a LONG time.

The longer waste sits in your intestinal tract, the more toxins are re-absorbed back into the body. Think about it. Nutrients are extracted from stool as it passes through, but stool also contains toxins that have been dumped into the intestines from the liver via the gallbladder. Those toxins are meant to be moved out of the body, but when stool sits in the intestines for long, they can be reabsorbed.

When waste remains in the intestinal tract longer than intended, it can build up, dry out, and even become impacted, or stuck. Regular use of laxatives or even enemas become “normal” for people with chronic constipation, but it doesn’t have to be the only solution.

How to Relieve Constipation, Naturally

Eat 35 grams of fiber daily. A diet high in low-sugar fruits and non-starchy vegetables will help you reach this goal. Complement the diet with nuts, seeds, and legumes in moderation.

Hydrate. Drink half your body weight in ounces every day.

Make time. Don’t rush your bathroom trip. Set aside extra time to help you get into the habit of “going” every day.

Exercise. Move your body. Even walking will help get your bowel moving.

Colon hydrotherapy. If you are chronically constipated, consider colon hydrotherapy.