This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What goes in must come out

Yep, this post really is about pooping.  Yesterday I was running on the treadmill.  It was my first day back to running after a 4 day break because I had injured my calf muscle.  I don't know how I could possibly have forgotten in only 4 days that running always makes me have to go to the bathroom.  Always.  But I did.  Luckily I was running on my home treadmill and not at the gym, otherwise that hunched-over-abdominal-clenching-crab-walk I had to do would have been really embarrassing.  The fact is that moving your body makes your body move: you heart rate increases, more blood is circulated, lymph fluid is circulated, peristalsis, catastalsis, and colon motility (intestinal contractions) increase, and metabolism is kicked into high gear.

It's the colon motility that got me.

As with any muscle we want to keep our intestinal muscles in excellent shape.  The contractions known as peristalsis and catastalsis are what make digestion and waste removal possible.  If these contractions become sluggish and irregular we've got partially digested food just sitting around rotting inside of us.  We can tone those muscles and ensure proper elimination of our waste in a number of ways:

1.  Drink plenty of water.  Each intestinal contraction is designed to use waves of mucus and fluid to push food particles along the 23 feet of intestinal tract.  Staying properly hydrated ensures that the mucus isn't too thick and thus peristalsis sluggish.  I heard a rule of 1 ounce of water for every 10 pounds you weigh.  That seems a little low to me but it's an excellent place to start.  I like to fill up 2 water bottles each day (stainless steel, of course!) and leave one in the refrigerator or on the counter at home and one in the car.  I remember to drink water a lot better if I have it already filled and ready to go.

2.  Eat plenty of fiber.  Fiber rich foods act as a binder, just like adding bread crumbs to your meatloaf.  Fiber binds all those food particles sloshing around your intestines together.  It's rough cellular texture gives a little intestinal scrub as it moves through ensuring that it gets all the particles along with the gooey stuff like cholesterol, excess mucus, and the slimy chemical residue left by many processed foods.  I like to add psyllium husk to my morning smoothies to ensure that I am getting enough fiber each day.  I can't taste it in the smoothie at all and it doesn't seem to affect the texture.

3.  Move your body. Walk.  Run.  Jump on a trampoline, kick a ball, dance, swim - it makes no difference what you do, just that you do something.  Just like lymph fluid which has no pump and depends upon our bodies movement to flow, exercise stimulates peristalsis and gets that which we no longer need moving out of our bodies.  Doing housework or walking to the printer is not enough movement unless you are doing laps to the printer and have a really big house...

4.  Laugh!  Laughter tones the abdominal muscles.  The whole reason I try to pepper this blog with nonsense posts about torturing my brothers in the car  or showering at the gym is to (hopefully) make you laugh, giving you an abdominal workout.  (Okay maybe abdominal workout is a stretch, but smiling is an excellent way to tone your facial muscles and reduce wrinkles and you at least smiled while reading showering at the gym, right?)

5.  Breathe.  Breathe slowly, deeply, and evenly.  Deliberately slow, deep breaths tone our diaphragm and abdomen.  Consciously pulling more oxygen into our bodies is an excellent way to reduce stress and tension, both of which can halt natural digestive function.  Take a deep breath in through your nose right now.  Hold for a moment.  Now slowly as you count to 5 release that breath.  Did your shoulders come down?  Did your eyes relax?

Now that wasn't so bad, talking about poop, was it?  Aren't you glad this post didn't have an accompanying picture...?


Genie @ Diet of 51 said...

Your ending exercised my intestines and facial muscles. Lots of good info.

When the system gets older and more sluggish, a Citrucel night cap doesn't hurt!

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

Movement causes everything to circulate including, well, you know. In my old days as a massage therapist, I knew I gave a good massage when the client made a beeline to the potty as soon as the massage was complete. LOL!