Better Nutrition|June 2020
Q This is embarrassing, but I struggle with constipation, particularly when I am under stress. I have trouble relaxing and either have difficulty having bowel movements or have only partial movements. Is there something nutritional you can suggest to help me?
There are many nutritional strategies to try, but let me preface that with a caveat: Look at the triggers that instigate or worsen the constipation. In this case, you already mentioned that stress is a trigger for you. Stress can cause constipation in several ways. In response to stress, the body’s adrenal glands release a hormone called epinephrine, which causes the body to divert blood flow from the intestines to the vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, and brain. Intestinal movement decreases, and constipation can occur. The body also releases corticotrophin-releasing factor in the bowels, which can slow down activity in the intestines and cause inflammation. In addition, stress causes intestinal permeability, which allows inflammatory compounds to come into the intestines, often leading to a feeling of abdominal fullness, and it may affect healthy bacteria in the gut, thus slowing digestion.
Overcoming stress-related constipation involves both stress-reduction techniques and natural remedies. You may have to do a little experimenting to discover which of these strategies work best for you.
Try Supplementing with Magnesium
Magnesium is the most important supplement for stress-related constipation. It’s an essential dietary mineral that nearly half of all Americans—and by some estimates up to 80 percent—do not get enough of from their diets. Furthermore, magnesium is sequestered and wasted via urine in times of stress. Stress can cause magnesium depletion, and a lack of magnesium magnifies stress.
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