It’s Fall and everyone is “ramping up”. Whether you are a parent with a new school schedule to manage or an employee managing new projects at work, it seems that as the days get shorter, the To-Do lists get longer. Changes in schedule and workload can contribute to rising levels of stress. As a result, maybe you aren’t getting sufficient sleep, which can lead to even higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Both stress and insomnia can lead to a suppressed immune system, which can in turn lead to increased susceptibility to any colds and flu being passed around
Welcome and I’m happy to have you back to Part 2 of our Healthy Elimination blog post series! Before we discuss specific natural approaches tomorrow in Part 3 that you can try to keep your intestinal region healthy, let’s review two of our most frequently asked about concerns:
I have a bad case of…
Diarrhea is an all too common symptom with a wide range of causes and repercussions. Infectious agents, overeating, incomplete digestion, food sensitivities, intestinal dysmotility, and sometimes more serious medical issues, are some of the common causes of diarrhea.
Diarrhea can be classified as acute or chronic, and is further divided into osmotic or secretory depending on the source.
• Secretory diarrhea refers to the fact that this type of diarrhea is caused by excessive secretions being made into the lumen (or tunnel) of the intestines. Infectious diseases such as cholera or rotavirus can cause this type of diarrhea, while noninfectious causes include vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) secreting tumors.
• Osmosis is the process by which water travels from an area of low solute concentrations to an area of high solute concentrations (think of it as trying to dilute the solutes). When there is too much of some solvent in the lumen of the large intestine it draws water in from the cells. This results in watery diarrhea as well. Many medications and supplements can cause this, such as high doses of magnesium and vitamin C.
Constipation is described by at least two of the following criteria: difficult or infrequent passage of stool, hardness of stool, sensation of anorectal obstruction, manual removal of obstructions, fewer than three defecations per week, and/or the feeling of incomplete evacuation. Like diarrhea, the causes of constipation are multifactorial and may be related to a lack of peristalsis, lack of volume, or lack of hydration.
• Many drugs and medical conditions can lead to constipation.
• Some metabolic causes include diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, or hypomagnesia.
• Conditions that affect smooth muscle tone, or stimulation, such as amyloidosis, or Parkinson’s disease can inhibit the movement of fecal matter through the GI tract.
• Obstructions cause by tumors in or around the area, can also inhibit regular bowel movements.
• However, the causes of constipation are often simple dietary causes. For example, without adequate hydration it is more difficult for the stool to move along the large intestine towards the rectum. Another example is constipation caused by iron supplementation, though vitamin C can offset this. An individual may not be eating enough fibre to bulk up the stool.
• If there is enough bulk and adequate hydration and an individual is still constipated there may be motility issues.
Managing constipation is important not only from a convenience, or comfort, perspective, but from a risk prevention perspective as well. Chronic constipation with straining can increase the risk of colon cancer.
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