5 Unexpected Side Effects of . . . Constipation

I know, it’s not exactly lunch or dinner conversation, but constipation is something that we should really talk about. This article was found on the Food Matters website, written by Laurentine Ten Bosch and shared by me!

After all, 63 million Americans report having sluggish bowels. So chances are that you – or somebody you know and care about – may be having problems in the poop department! LOL!

Furthermore, constipation isn’t merely a painful inconvenience. It can impact many areas of your health and wellbeing, sometimes in very surprising ways.

Find out five of the top, unexpected side effects of constipation, and how you can take action today to get your bowels back in good working order!

Firstly, What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Constipation?

There is a wide variation in what is considered to be ‘normal’ in terms of bowel habits.

As a very general guideline, constipation is classified as having less than three bowel movements per week. Other symptoms can include:

  • Straining to pass a bowel movement,
  • Feelings of incomplete defecation (i.e. feeling like you may need to go a bit more, even once you’ve finished),
  • Having small, dry and/or hard stools,
  • Experiencing a feeling of ‘fullness’ in your rectum.

(If you notice any of the above symptoms, or a change from your usual bowel habits, it’s always best to get this checked out.)

This is obviously an unpleasant situation to deal with in the bathroom, but did you know that constipation could be affecting your life and health in other ways as well?

1. Constipation Can Cause Headaches (Or Is At Least Associated With Them)

Headaches can be caused by many things, and experts have now added constipation to the list of possible causal factors.

Why? The first possible reason is stress. Being able to poop properly is a basic human function that’s very easy to take for granted…until it’s taken away from you.

The pain, inconvenience, worry and pressure of being constipated – and feeling your insides continue to fill up, block and bloat – can truly cause a lot of stress. This anxiety can in turn trigger tension headaches.

Also, a very common cause of constipation is dehydration. Your bowels need a sufficient supply of water to produce soft stools. When you’re not drinking enough water, fecal matter can become dry and compacted, creating the hard ‘pellets’ of poop that are common with constipation.

In this case, while the constipation does not directly cause headaches, the associated dehydration can. So by drinking more water, you may get a twofold relief from constipation and headaches!

Lastly, there is some evidence that headaches may be induced from toxin buildup during constipation. Your bowels are a major outlet for your body to eliminate toxic materials; if this waste is idling for longer than it should, it may be reabsorbed back into the body and trigger headaches.

2. Constipation Can Cause Breakouts!

Experts acknowledge the link between what happens in our gut and what shows up on our skin.

Fundamentally, constipation can be a sign that your inner ecosystem of gut flora is a little strained. And when our friendly flora isn’t in tip-top condition, it can manifest with more than just constipation. Ultimately, your skin can suffer too.

Skin conditions such as puffiness, acne, dark circles under the eyes and even rashes can all stem from internal gut issues.

Remember also that the skin is your body’s largest organ and does perform some functions of elimination. Therefore, toxins that enter through the body through unhealthy foods, or accumulate during constipation, can cause zits and other blemishes.

So if your body can’t get rid of toxins via the normal route (i.e. the bowels), it may break out via your skin instead!

3. Constipation Can Make You Lose Your Appetite

It is common for many people with constipation to lose their appetite.

But please let it be known that this is not an effective weight-loss strategy!😉

(Besides, constipation often causes a bloated and distended abdomen, which probably doesn’t go hand-in-hand with the goals of dieting!)

The type of appetite loss that accompanies chronic constipation is not a pleasant form of hunger suppression. Rather, it is a pervasive malaise that makes eating food feel like a total ‘turn off’ and real effort. Kinda like that weak, ‘off-food’ feeling you get after being sick – it’s not a vitalizing experience!

You see, the digestive system is a finely-tuned, well-honed machine of interconnecting parts that is constantly feeding messages back to the brain and your organs. Every time you eat a meal, special nerves that line the inside of your stomach are stretched, which triggers something called a mass movement.

A mass movement?! “What Is THAT?”

Well, have you ever noticed that, often, you feel the urge to poo within half an hour of eating a big meal? That is the magic of a mass movement in action! As you eat, nerves in your stomach stretch and neuronal signals are sent to your bowels to say,

“Hey down there! We’ve got another load coming through – it’s time to move things along.”

Your intestines are designed to respond by propelling food further through your digestive tract, hence the need to visit the toilet

With constipation, this feedback loop is interrupted. Instead of clearing space, your brain and stomach get signals that things are backed up. Just like any production line, it’s inefficient to keep adding more into the mix until congestion has cleared.

In other words, your body can shut down the urge to eat (i.e. put more in) until it’s taken care of the other side of the equation (i.e. what’s going out).

4. Constipation Can Give You Hemorrhoids (Ouch!)

Constipation is typified by a straining sensation when you attempt a bowel movement.

Just like any muscle that is trying to carry a workload that is heavier than its capacity, there’s going to be some wear and tear.

The length of our intestines is covered by smooth muscle fibers that propel food and waste along our digestive tract. When these muscles are put under pressure (such as during prolonged constipation), they also exert extra force on the veins which line the rectum.

During constipation, these veins can be stretched beyond their normal capacity, so that they are no longer able to hold their shape and integrity. Sometimes this is to the extent that they no longer stay within the internal cavity and protrude from the anus.  This can be uncomfortable, indeed!

5. Can Constipation Give You Bad Breath?

According to one Danish study, yes.

This research showed that almost one quarter of bad breath may be attributed to constipation! Other reports indicate that people with constipation commonly notice a bad taste in the mouth or recurrent episodes of bad breath.

The reasons for this association are not completely clear. However, one theory is that constipation may lead to the proliferation of toxic gut bacteria, which produce malodorous gases. Kinda weird to think of these gases floating up into your mouth, right?

Ways To Treat Constipation

As you can see, there are many things that can cause constipation. As with any multifactorial health issue, there are many factors which can help.

Once you’ve ruled out any underlying medical issues or food intolerances, here are some diet and lifestyle strategies that can be very effective at treating constipation:

  • Don’t Hold On: While I agree that going anytime, anywhere, is by no means a socially-acceptable solution, the less that you ‘put off’ going once you feel the urge, the better!
  • Exercising Regularly: Physical activity sends blood flow to the entire digestive tract and can also stimulate a bowel movement.
  • Lower Your Stress Levels: Stress and your emotional state has a very real impact on digestion. If you think about it, we even acknowledge this in everyday colloquialisms such as feeling ‘butterflies in your tummy’ and being ‘sick to the stomach’. Chronic stress can result in inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and unpleasant digestive disorders such as constipation. Meditation, yoga, massage, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, aromatherapy and homeopathy can be great stress reducing tools.
  • Dial Up Your Fiber Intake: It is believed that our ancestors ate up to 100g of fiber per day, whereas the average modern American hits less than 14g daily.  Bump up your daily intake with high-fiber foods such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, chia, (soaked and activated) quinoa and brown rice, organic prunes, soaked legumes and fresh produce. Just go slowly, though, as the bowel often doesn’t like a sudden change in fiber intake!
  • Stay Well Hydrated:Hydrationis one of the strongest determining factors as to how soft your stool will be. A great article on how to tell if you’re chronically dehydrated can be found here
  • Mind Your Medications: Certain antidepressants and NSAID medications can cause constipation. In fact, some supplements can, too! (Particularly iron and calcium carbonate.) It can be worthwhile to check if any pills you currently take may be adding to the problem.
  • Trial A Probiotic and Eating More Fermented Foods. One study found that levels of the good bacteria Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteriawere significantly higher in people who didn’t experience constipation. Therefore, you can top up your levels of good bacteria with a high quality probiotic supplement and regular hit of fermented foods!

Hopefully, by now you will agree with me when I say that constipation shouldn’t be a taboo subject; it affects a lot of people and can seriously impact your health.

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Are you making this mistake in plating your food?

The next time you sit down to eat, take a good long look at your plate before you dig in. The food you’re eating and the way you prepared it might be totally healthy, but there could be another, almost invisible factor causing you to eat more than you originally intended to. And if you’re interested in losing or maintaining your weight, letting this little mistake slip under the radar could be getting in the way of your goals.

Your portion sizes might be too big, and the way you plate your food could be the reason why. Your healthy-eating game plan seems airtight: You diligently set your brown rice down, top it with a lean protein like chicken, and finish things off with veggies. But here’s the rub: Arranging your food in this format may cause you to accidentally pack on too much of some foods and too little of others. According to Maxine Yeung, M.S., R.D., owner of The Wellness Whisk, when you plate your carbohydrate and protein first, “by the time you get to the veggies, there’s little room left on the plate.” In a well-rounded meal, she says, veggies should be the main focus. So you don’t want to plop them on the plate like an afterthought.

“Changing the way you view your meal to make the vegetable section your primary focus is so important because they contain all the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water your body needs,” Yeung explains. So what’s the best way to plate your food? Veggies first, then protein, then grains—if it sounds upside down, that’s because it is. This method, developed by Yeung, is called plating backwards, and it’s an extremely simple solution to the common too-big-portion problem.

Making it a mealtime habit is easy. When you plate, Yeung says you’ll want to aim for your portions to be 50 percent non-starchy vegetables, 25 percent lean protein, and 25 percent carbohydrates. If you plate the classic way (carbs, protein, vegetables) you’re more likely to end up with 50 percent carbs and 25 percent vegetables. To strike the right balance, she says, “Start by filling about half your plate with vegetables, then add protein and carbohydrates in about equal portions.” And if you’re still unsure about your portion sizes, she suggests usingMyPlate’s visuals as a guideline.

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It’s National Farmers Market Week!

Visit your local farmers markets to fill half your plate with locally grown fruits & vegetables. We have several of them in the New Orleans area. Have fun and discover something new!

Find your local farmers market



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Helpful Hints and Tips

  • Add variety to your meals – try vegetarian options, like bean burritos, portabello mushroom burgers or spinach lasagna. (Love me some spinach lasagne!)
  • Fruit and plain low-fat yogurt go great together. Enjoy them for breakfast or as a snack. If you must, add a tiny bit of stevia or a teaspoon of honey to sweeten. Or try mixing in a shake of ground cinnamon.
  • Walk your way to your goal weight. New to walking? Start slow and gradually add minutes. Not new to walking? Get a Sistah to walk with you!
  • If it bothers your knees & joints to run, try bicycling or swimming (like Nikkia) for a great aerobic exercise.
  • To help you eat fewer calories when eating out, order an item from the menu (like an appetizer or a side vegetable) instead of heading for the “all-you-can-eat” buffet.
  • Pay attention to the food as you eat it and sloooowww down. Drink water as you eat and put your fork down between bites.
  • Chew each bite 25 – 30 times. This helps both satiety and digestion.
  • Feel for your satiety level and stop just before you feel full (this takes practice).

Try at least ONE of these tips and see how you feel. Love it? Incorporate it into your days. Hate it? Choose something else. You have options.

In Sistahly Love,


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Batido Smoothie

batido smoothie

Prep time: 10 minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

This refreshing smoothie is a blend of papaya, banana, and yogurt and makes a satisfying part of breakfast or any time of day. Mix in frozen or fresh berries for a variety of flavors. I usually throw in a handful of spinach or kale for a ‘green’ smoothie – great way to get some veggies in.


2 cups papaya chunks (fresh or frozen)

2 bananas (overripe, sliced)

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1 cup ice cubes


  1. Put all the ingredients in the blender.
  2. Put the lid on tightly. Turn the blender to a medium setting and blend until the ice is chopped and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.
  3. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.


  • One cup of low-fat milk, soy, rice, almond or coconut milk can be used instead of yogurt.
  • Strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries can be used in addition to or instead of papaya.
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Sistahs Purification Power 8-1-16

Hello Sistahs! What an informative session we had last night at Ashe’. After our very spiritual liturgical dance session (really beautiful), the purification power session focused on cleansing the liver. Personally, I haven’t spend much time thinking about my liver but after the session last night, I have learned that my liver is a very vital organ that needs daily attention. Here are some of the things I learned:

The liver can regenerate itself! It can handle over 500 functions. It filters bacteria out of the blood. It makes and secrets bile. It produces enzymes that are needed for digestion. It filters out the oils, perfumes, colognes, lotions, powders, etc., that we use everyday. The best oils/lubricants for our skin and hair are coconut oil, raw shea butter and castor oil. (I have a story about that castor oil I’ll share with you later.)

Foods that cleanse the liver: Avocado, Beets, Turmeric, Garlic (not the powder), Lemon, Grapefruit, Green Tea (not the extract, 2-3 cups per day), Walnuts and Herbs, specifically Milk Thistle, Artichoke and Dandelion.

Affirmation: My mind is cleansed and free. I leave the past and move into the new and all is new. -Louise Hay

Our commitment for this week: I release the anger/fear about/with/of ____________.

Alrighty, you know what to do.


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Healthy barbecue tips for summer

Hey Sistahs,
I got this info from the American Heart Association enewsletter. Since some of us will be cooking out and grilling, this article might be helpful in helping us reduce our sodium intake. Check out the end of this article for healthy recipes. Hey? When are we going to put that Sistahs Making A Change Cookbook into the Universe?


July 5, 2016 8:19 am Published by AHA Sodium Reduction Team
This is one of our favorite times of the year families are getting together to spend time outdoors, and summer produce is in season!

If you’re hosting or attending a barbecue, picnic, or cookout this summer, these tips will help you. They cover more than just sodium, because after all, eating healthfully is important for heart health.

For meat, poultry, and fish:

  • Go for grilled fish. Salmon, trout and herring are packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Rub a fillet with lemon juice and parsley or rosemary for more flavor.
  • Buy chicken breasts – and remember to remove the skin before eating – instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs). Or try grilling up chicken or turkey burgers using breast meat, and add diced onions and spices for a layer of flavor.
  • Choose lean or extra lean beef for burgers, drain off excess fat after cooking, and keep the patties reasonably sized. A serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. Add finely chopped bell peppers to your beef to sneak in some veggies.
  • Look for fresh and frozen poultry that hasn’t been injected with a sodium solution. Check the fine print on the packaging and look for terms such as “broth,” “saline” or “salt solution.” Sodium levels in unseasoned fresh meats are around 100 mg or less per 4-ounce serving.



Side dishes:

  • Eat a rainbow of green, red, orange, yellow, purple and more. Serve green leafy salads or fruit salads (or a combination of both, like baby spinach with strawberries or mixed greens with orange slices) instead of mayonnaise-based salads. Add some crunch – and healthier fats – with toasted walnuts or almonds instead of croutons.
  • Bake the fries. Slice white or sweet potatoes into sticks, lightly spray with olive oil cooking spray, pepper and paprika and bake on a cookie sheet for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.
  • Thread SOME veggie kabobs – load up skewers with mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash or other veggies. Spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray and grill until slightly blackened.
  • Limit the salty sauces – if you have teriyaki, soy, and barbecue sauce in one meal, the sodium will probably add up quickly. And try some of our homemade condiments recipes.

Snacks and desserts:

  • Slice a variety of colorful veggies for a cool, crunchy snack. Baby carrots, cucumber rounds, jicama slices, sugar snap peas, and bell pepper strips – they look great on a platter too!
  • Blend a smoothie with sweet seasonal fruit, non-fat or low-fat vanilla or lemon yogurt, ice and a touch of honey or cinnamon for a refreshing dessert alternative.
  • Grill fruits like pineapple slices, nectarines, peaches or plums – the natural sugars caramelize with the heat and give them great flavor.
  • Freeze mashed-up fruit (try peaches, grapes, or berries) into paper cups, insert a popsicle stick, freeze overnight and enjoy homemade freezer pops.

Visit heart.org/recipes for more ideas and heart-healthy recipes!

We’d love to hear your tips for a healthier summer barbecue


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