Let’s start with a simple physiology lesson. How should your gut function?

First of all, our nervous system needs to be in a relaxed state. This is called parasympathetic mode and is commonly known as “rest and digest”. We should sit down to our meals and enjoy them from first smell (when digestion actually begins) to the last bite.

Our bodies should process this lovingly-prepared and consumed meal, breaking down all the components to “feed” our cells and give us fuel with proper levels of stomach acid, digestive enzymes, emulsifying bile, and gut bacteria.

Many of us have trained out bodies to be constipated or we have chronic diseases that contribute to improper bowel habit. I’d like to introduce you to a simple way to reset your body and let it know it’s OK to rest and digest.

Reset & Digest:

  1. Each evening before bed, drink a serving of a warm/hot beverage. Preferably something without caffeine. Fennel, chamomile, or peppermint teas are ideal options as they decrease bloating and gas in the gastrointestinal tract and chamomile especially tends to be relaxing. You may use one or all of these teas, as per your preference.
  2. Follow any other nighttime prescriptions you have from your VitalShip physician. This may include castor oil packs or enemas, taking your nighttime supplements or medications if you have any, or certain exercises such as yoga or meditation. You can drink your tea during this time or afterward.
  3. In the morning, drink another warm/hot beverage. If coffee is not restricted on your care plan, this is an ideal time to have your serving of coffee. Caffeinated tea is also a good option for the morning. If you cannot have caffeine, the evening teas are still a good option. They are not sedative and should not make you drowsy.
  4. You will sit on the toilet x 10 minutes without distractions. You may do this in conjunction with step 3, if preferred or afterward if you don’t like to bring beverages to the bathroom. 🙂 Distractions, in this instance, includes beginning work. Do not check email, social media, etc. You may read from a book, magazine, or paper. You may also listen to music during this 10 minutes. Do not strain or try to force yourself to have a BM. This is a good time to practice breathing exercises if they have been prescribed by your VitalShip physician or other relaxation methods, if needed. If you have to wake up 10 minutes early to get this time, do it!
  5. After 10 minutes, if your body is not initiating a bowel movement, you can go about your day. Do not sit longer, as this may cause stagnation including decreased blood flow and problems such as hemorrhoids may arise/irritate.

Following this protocol every day will help establish proper habits in your body, which includes having a morning bowel movement. Happy pooping!

– Dr. Q