Expert Contribution

Constipation. Is it normal?

What if I told you that constipation is common, but it is not normal? Before we dive into this, let’s look at what constipation is defined as. In traditional medicine, constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. Conversely, diarrhea is defined as having more than three bowel movements a day that are loose or watery. So, how often should we be having a bowel movement? 

The human body is complex, so the number of times you have a bowel movement varies depending on who you ask. Most would agree that one time a day should be the minimum, and over four times may indicate underlying health issues. So, what is going on when you have to go, but you just can’t go? Or maybe you don’t have to go, and you want to because it’s been days… 

Let’s take a deeper look into what could be going on to contribute to underlying causes of constipation. Common issues contributing to constipation, in clinical order include: 

  1. Insufficient Nutrients 
  2. Insufficient Digestion 
  3. Poor lifestyle & Dietary habits 
  4. Hormones 
  5. Gut bacteria 
  6. Neuronal influences 
  7. Structural influences 
  8. Underlying Disease 

Perhaps you are experiencing one, or multiple of these issues at the same time. Figuring out why you are constipated is the first step in working towards constipation cessation. Stuck and need some help getting things moving? Here are some things you can do to retrain a sluggish bowel. 

  1. Incorporate the leafy greens and make fiber your friend. Ensure you have adequate water intake to balance the fiber intake. 
  2. Figure out if you need some help with digestion, and supplement with the corresponding digestive aid supplements. 
  3. Space meals and chew your food longer before swallowing. Meal spacing allows for full digestion of foods. Chewing your food longer allows for the body to do less work breaking down and “assimilating” the food going forward. Digestion begins in the mouth – it’s important not to skimp on chewing properly and long enough. 
  4. Get moving! Exercise can improve constipation. 
  5. Stimulate the Vagus nerve. (The connection between our brain and gut.) Humming and gargling stimulate the Vagus nerve. This can improve vagal tone, which helps to regulate digestion and improve bowel movements. 
  6. Stress management – stress slows down digestion. Practice breathing techniques, go for a walk, do something that helps you be in ‘rest and digest’ mode as opposed to ‘fight or flight.’ 

Constipation can be tricky. Don’t know where to start? Schedule a consultation with our clinic. We can help. 

Free 15-minute consults with our health coaches at Body Love Café. Visit our website:

By Dr. Jennifer Dufala, D.C. with Body Love Cafe 

About The Author

Functional Medicine & Nutrition
Dr. Brandy Zachary, DC, IFMCP
Body Love Cafe

Dr. Brandy Zachary, DC, IFMCP discovered the power of Functional Medicine first hand when a “mystery illness” left her declared permanently disabled. Unwilling to accept that diagnosis, she fought back and launched Body Love Cafe, an award-winning holistic health clinic.

BLC is all about natural medicine that meets cutting-edge science to provide answers as to why you don’t feel well. We hear you. We see you. We believe you. It’s not in your head and we’ve got the technique and labs to show why.

Patients have said “Dr. Zachary figures out why you feel like crap but your MD says you’re fine.” 

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