Fibromyalgia and a slow-moving bowel—does it have to be this way?
I had worked in the direct care field and I knew what kind of day it would be when I would visit a client’s home and they would be complaining about not having a bowel movement. At first, I didn’t understand the obsession with the bowel. As I have matured and live with Fibromyalgia, and have experienced the discomfort myself, I can empathize completely. A slow moving bowel could make the day much less enjoyable.
According to naturopathic beliefs, when you eat two or three meals a day, the bowel should move at least once or twice daily. Even with one bowel movement a day, you can still have at least three meals worth of waste sitting in your colon from a slow-moving bowel that eventually gets blocked.
Does Fibromyalgia influence a slow moving bowel?
Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with constipation frequently go together. No one really knows why, but we do know that all three conditions can include imbalances of serotonin — although in fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome, it’s an imbalance in the brain, while with IBS it’s in the gut.
The Process of Digestion Starts with Chewing
Food usually starts to get broken down with the act of chewing. I became aware of why this first step should not be omitted—I was a grandmother with braces, which I recently had removed. I suffered with faulty digestion because I could not chew my food completely. As a result, I did experience bloating and constipation, signs of a slow moving bowel.
The food that is not broken down by chewing enters the stomach where it is worked on by the digestive juices. Unchewed food particles are not welcome in your stomach. The unchewed stomach contents then enter the small intestine where absorption of food components into the blood stream should take place. Sloppily chewed food promotes intestinal bacteria, causing flatulence, bloating, constipation, stomach ache, cramps and even diarrhea. Inadequately chewed food leads to inadequate absorption of nutrients.
The Main function of the Colon is to Absorb Water
The small intestine meets the large intestine (colon) at the right-hand side of the lower abdomen, the ileocecal valve, and travels up the ascending colon. Because this part of the passage is working against gravity, people may experience pain up the right hand side of their abdomen where food residues are at a standstill, worsened by food not being effectively broken down.
The main function of the colon is to absorb water from the food, which should be sludgy at this stage. The stool becomes harder and dryer when more water is absorbed, and it becomes more difficult to move the food along. The stagnant food can produce toxic gases, which enter the bloodstream, irritating the organs and joints, sometimes referred to as a “leaky gut”. Hemorrhoids also develop as a result of straining when having a bowel movement
Gastrointestinal Distress and Fibromyalgia
The common association of gastrointestinal distress and fibromyalgia is well-known. An estimated 32% of patients with fibromyalgia are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 81% report irregular bowel habits.
Effects of Slow-Moving Bowels
- Developing pouches on the intestinal wall (diverticula)
- Prolapse of the bowel
- Pains in the back, neck and shoulders
- Colds and Flu
- Skin problems
- Mental fogginess
- Cognitive difficulties
Things You Can Do to Assist a Slow Moving Bowel
- Chew your food thoroughly!
- Eat enough fiber: Besides helping the fecal matter move along, fiber also provides nutrition for the bowel flora (the good bacteria that live in the bowel).
- Drink water: It is generally recommended that we drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. Did you know that our bodies are approximately 75% water? It is also important for the health of our kidneys and skin. Water helps to soften the stool so it can pass quickly through the intestinal tract.
- Eat your EFA’s or Essential Fatty Acids: EFA’s are needed by every cell in the body and our bodies cannot manufacture them. We need to get them from the food we eat or nutritional supplements, such as AFA Blue-Green Algae. The Essential Fatty Acids play a role in hormone and immune system function – both of which are important for bowel health. Our hormones (particularly our thyroid) activate movement in the intestinal muscles to aid in digestion and elimination.
- Do not ignore the urge: When your body tells you it needs to eliminate the bowel, listen, or you may lose the ability to respond appropriately. To allow for the body’s natural rhythm and allow for easy elimination, it is helpful to be near a bathroom for about an hour after eating.
- Exercise: Your digestive tract, too, needs appropriate exercise. Exercise will help to have more frequent and less difficult bowel movements. I love my Chair Yoga!
Magnesium Assists a Slow-Moving Bowel
In one study published in a 2007 issue of the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” researchers studied the effect of water, dietary fiber and magnesium intake on constipation in 3,835 Japanese students aged between 18 and 20 years old. The team found that low intakes of water and magnesium are independently associated with an increasing prevalence of functional constipation among a population whose dietary fiber intake is relatively low. Read more: http://ow.ly/ithBq
Foods rich in Magnesium:
- AFA Blue-Green Algae
- Spinach – love my spinach!
- Raisin Bran and Shredded Wheat –when I can’t make up my mind, or want something light.
- Bananas – add them to the cereal!
- Quinoa – did you know this is found in my favorite meal bar?
- Brown Rice and Black Beans – together, make a complete protein!
Another tip to get the digestive juices flowing is to drink a glass of warm water with lemon juice or 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar 20 minutes before eating.
***I also find adding extra digestive enzymes and a high quality probiotic to my daily regimen works to keep things running smoothly—and insures a more enjoyable day! I can help you with this.
***Photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/l8ksgpq (2) www.NaturalGrocers.com
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