Constipated? Skip the Dairy

OrganicSoymilk

Constipation remains one of the most common and consistent issues that my clients are experiencing. In fact, the more that I talk to people (whether they are my clients or not), the more that people will share with me that they are chronically constipated. I had a client who swore that he only had bowel movements once every two weeks. I had to ask him a couple of times if he was certain this was the case, and he assured me that he’d been this way his whole life. After working with me, he had regular bowel movements. More often than not, he had bowel movements every day, but he definitely had them once every other day – a great improvement from what he was experiencing before.

As you may have guessed, diet plays a huge role in our health, including whether or not we will experience constipation. Since I have a plant-based diet and do not eat any animal products, I am able to share with my clients tips, recipes, and foods that they may have never tried before, to help them improve their health and well-being. I know that eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, and legumes – all of which have fiber, can ease constipation (and are recommended as part of having a healthy diet :)). And that’s what I recommend my clients try in order to have regular bowel movements. I also recommend that they drink enough water, exercise, and actively practice stress reduction methods. It’s no secret that I also encourage people to pay attention to how much dairy they’re consuming, and I do ask my clients to experiment with reducing and/or eliminating dairy and noticing any changes they may experience.

Dr. Michael Greger put together a wonderful video sharing lots of studies that show the link between consuming cow’s milk and being constipated. I highly recommend that you take a few minutes to watch this informative video, which can help you or anyone you know who is struggling with constipation, including your children. If you don’t have time to watch the video, I’ll share this with you: there have been several studies conducted on children to see whether or not eliminating cow’s milk from their diets would cure their constipation, and when cow’s milk was entirely eliminated, 100% of the children were no longer constipated.

And, as Dr. Michael Greger shares, these children also saw a, “resolution of rectal inflammation and complications such as anal fissures.” I’d say a 100% success rate is pretty amazing, wouldn’t you? Don’t underestimate the power of making healthy choices. And don’t be afraid to try new milks, such as organic soy milk, organic almond milk, organic rice milk, organic hemp milk, organic coconut milk – there’s no shortage of vegan milks that taste great, contain calcium, protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12 (some vegan milks are fortified with vitamin B12), and won’t cause you or your family to become constipated. What’s your favorite non-dairy milk? Share! And watch this video :).

 

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

Sunshine

I wish I could say that now that it’s fall, we should all check our vitamin D levels and make sure that we have enough in our bodies. However, the truth is, for most people, getting vitamin D is becoming harder and harder – no matter what time of the year it is. Most of this is due to the fact that the best source of vitamin D  is the sun, but the sun has been blamed for a variety of health problems, so people are doing everything they can to avoid it. This in turn has led to a global vitamin D deficiency. The good news is this: you can still get some vitamin D from the sun and not put yourself at risk for getting sunburned or getting skin cancer.

Why do I need vitamin D?

Vitamin D serves many purposes, and does everything from helping your body absorb calcium (which is necessary for good bone health) to helping strengthen your immune system; vitamin D may even offer protection against a variety of diseases including psoriasis, some autoimmune disorders, and even cancer. (Click here for more information.)

What is the best source of vitamin D?

Most doctors recommend getting some sunshine every day, but the exact amount of time that you need to be outside differs from person to person. If you’re fair-skinned, I wouldn’t recommend being in the sun without sunscreen for more than 10-15 minutes. If you’re tan, 15-20 minutes should be fine. The darker your skin, the more exposure to the sun you need to make vitamin D. If you’re concerned about being in the sun, apply sunscreen after about 10 minutes to be on the safe side. I like to put some sunscreen on my face and hands, but wear a tank top and shorts – that way I can protect sensitive areas of my body, but expose some lesser sensitive areas. It’s also important to mention that the closer you live to the equator, the easier it is to get enough vitamin D from the sun. The middle of the day is when you should try to get some vitamin D from the sun. Check with your doctor to make sure you’re staying safe and protecting yourself while trying to get enough vitamin D – we don’t want any overexposure or sunburns!

What if I want to supplement?

Dr. Andrew Weil recommends 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day(based on research and the growing number of people with a vitamin D deficiency). Also, it’s important to note that there are several forms of vitamin D, including D2 and D3. Vitamin D3 is recommended when supplementing. If you want to know if you are vitamin D deficient, ask your doctor for a blood test; if you are deficient, ask your doctor how much you should supplement so that you know what is best for you (we are all different!). There are some vegan vitamin D3 supplements, such as Nature’s Plus Source of Life Garden Vitamin D3, which you can purchase here. (Be sure to check with your doctor before you start taking supplements!).

Vitamin D is important so I encourage you to get a blood test and make sure that you have enough; if  you are deficient, talk to your doctor about supplementing and repeat your blood test in a few months to make sure that you are doing everything correctly and safely. Best of luck! And if you can find some sun out there, go get some vitamin D!