There are some who say that death begins in the colon. They’re really not too far off the mark. True health is not possible without a healthy gut. There are two issues with constipation.
First is the consequences of constipation. Now, as I sit here typing this post over lunch, I’ll try not to get too graphic, but think of the poor little cell lining the GI tract (colonocyte in the case of the colon). In constipation, the view doesn’t change much. That little guy is exposed to chemicals, byproducts and waste products from compounds that the body had earmarked for elimination. If those nasties were not moving along at a healthy pace and I was a colonocyte, I know I would not be a happy camper.
Because of this, the risk of cancer and diverticulosis / itis goes up. Waste products and toxins that were supposed to be removed get reabsorbed. A perfect example is the glucuronidation of hormones like estrogen. This is process by which the body will get rid of levels of excess hormones that it doesn’t need. It occurs principally in the liver and the conjugated hormones are put into the gut for disposal.
With constipation, these conjugated hormones spend too much time in contact with evil bacteria able to un-conjugate the hormones, sending them back into our bodies in their mutated forms. These mutated forms of hormones such as estrogen can disrupt hormonal balance in the body. For this reason among others, a woman having PMS complaints needs to evaluate their overall gut function.
The second issue is what creates the constipation in the first place. It’s not uncommon for this to begin in infanthood. It seems that parents are sometimes told that their little infant having a bowel movement every couple days is ok…UGH!!! This can be a very early warning sign of food allergies and, in an infant I would look at dairy-related constipation first.
Poor quality diets can also lead to constipation, as can too little fluid intake. Many medications can cause constipation as a side effect. Antibiotics can destroy the healthy bacterial flora. Gall bladder problems may contribute (an entire post by itself).
So, fixing constipation begins with those concerns mentioned above. In the short term, magnesium will easily fix constipation. NEVER use stool softeners as your gut will adapt to them and become dependent. I usually recommend 400 mg of high quality magnesium before bed. This amount may be altered by individual circumstances such as stress levels, base dietary intake and other supplements. But magnesium can’t NOT work (ever heard of anyone not getting cleaned out the day before a colonoscopy?).
Add to this probiotics to balance out the bacterial flora and produce more stability within the gut.
With all this in mind, looking at this particular article and finding a 23% increased risk of heart disease in those with constipation should now make a little more sense. It is not likely a direct result, but rather the lifestyle or food allergies that created the constipation coupled with the problems created by the constipation.
Either way…get it fixed.