If there's one thing you should know about Facebook Live star and India's leading expert in the field of integrative and lifestyle medicine, Luke Coutinho, it's that he is not a quick-fix kinda guy. The co-author of the bestseller The Great Indian Diet insists that without small but consistent corrections to your lifestyle, there's no magic pill to solve your problems.
And at a recent Facebook Live session with ELLE, he revealed the oft-overlooked root cause of most health problems. "Our body has 5 eliminatory organs: lungs, kidneys, skin, liver and colon. If any of these get clogged up, we face health problems. Since the colon holds the most toxic waste from our body, the inability to go to the toilet regularly is the main trigger of most diseases we know of today, right from acne to excessive weight gain to cancer," he explains. "It's also important to understand that constipation is a symptom, not a disease, but chronic constipation can lead to deadly diseases in the long run."
Among the key factors behind the issue, Coutinho blames a sedentary lifestyle, low fibre diet, excessive tea/coffee, dehydration, overuse of medicines like antacids, iron and calcium supplements, poorly managed stress, inadequate sleep, following the so-called “fat-free” diet and not having the right amount of acids in the stomach. "Constipation can also be an outcome of certain medical issues like IBS, an unactive thyroid or pregnancy for that matter. Nonetheless, healthy bowel movement is the most important aspect of anyone’s lifestyle."
The side effects of this issue are troubling, from low immunity and high risk for cancer to depression and low self-esteem, the latter triggered by the body's inability to produce mood boosters like serotonin.
"So no matter what your health goal is, your first focus should be on elimination. The very fact that toxic waste has reached your colon, means it has to eliminated. The faster you get toxins out of your system, the healthier you are and with less chances of contracting diseases and cancer. You will slow down the process of ageing and your mental ability and memory will improve. You will feel lighter, all those headaches and migraines may just disappear and your battle with weight loss may just change for the better," Coutinho promises.
Since it's mostly poor lifestyle that causes the issue, the ways to naturally cure yourself should also revolve around correcting these bad habits.
- Adding roughage to meals and balancing hydration
Fibre acts as a natural broom to sweep the colon clean. This means replacing all refined and packaged foods with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lentils, legumes nuts and seeds. Idea is to aim for a diet that is 60-70 percent raw, because proper digestion and elimination go hand in hand. Also note, with an increase in fibre intake, water intake should also increase otherwise you risk worsening the issue.
- Adequate water intake
The Chinese and Japanese swear by this: Waking to a litre of water every morning is a natural and extremely effective cure as it puts pressure on the colon and kidneys.
- Breaking free from a sedentary lifestyle :
When the body moves, the gut moves. A simple walk, body weight exercises, planks, twisting asanas can go a long way in cleaning up your colon.
- Handling emotions in a better way:
Fear, worry, tension, anxiety, anger, resentment, haste, jealousy are negative emotions that affect the way our body functions including gut and bowel movements.
- Building a regular routine:
This sounds subtle but it's a powerful lifestyle change. If you ever have an urge to visit the loo, never hold on to that and delay because that can lead to constipation.
Lastly some natural remedies that address constipation:
- Mix 2-3 tsp of Psyllium husk/ Isabgol in water.
- Mix 1 tbsp of triphala powder with water and consume before bedtime to help clean the colon the next day.
- Eat 4-5 soaked prunes / 2 tbsp of black raisins/ dried apricots with warm water, 2 hours before bed.
- Steep ½ tsp of ajwain in hot water and drink.
- Consume 1 tbsp of castor oil / extra virgin coconut oil before bedtime.