As a nutritionist, I know how important number 2 is. And I have focused on constipation and digestive health for decades, just ask my closest friends. They still tease me about the time I served beets at a dinner party and asked them to notice when the beets stained their poo to assess “transit time”. That’s not weird, right? And there are many, many versions of “normal poop”.

The “usual causes” did not apply to me as I already focus on all the prevention methods:

  • Enjoy a minimum of 25 grams of fibre every day from fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Drink lots of water
  • Maintain ample exercise
  • Consume fermented foods like sauerkraut, prebiotic and probiotic foods like yogurt
  • Avoid smoking, greasy foods, skipping meals and running out the door without going in the morning.

Seriously, it is true. Holding it in compounds the problem and recent research conducted by the Dukolax Bowel Health Poll showed that one in four Canadians avoid going at work. It also revealed that two fifths of women won’t go at the movies or in a restaurant. Um, hello, girls…when you gotta go, let’s all agree to forgive the sounds and smells of being human. Okay?

So I dug down into the more odd causes of constipation and here are the top 3:

Get your thyroid checked

Weight gain, sluggishness and that general slowing down feeling isn’t necessarily “just aging”.  When the hormones in the master gland, thyroid,  aren’t being made or used well, bowels can slow down as a result . As soon as I fixed this problem with diet and medication, the poopy problem went away.

Check Medications and Supplements

There are a host of items that can cause you to be backed up including anti-depressants, antacids, calcium and iron supplements.  If you need them, you need them, check with your doctor or naturopath to see if there are other work-arounds and if you have to take them be sure to manage the list of “usual causes” above.

Look carefully at key food culprits

Chocolate http://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/does-chocolate-cause-constipation causes some people to go and others to not be able. It could go either way but if constipation is a problem wonder about your daily dark chocolate intake.

Cheese. We all know why a trip to Paris ends with a laxative requirement…it’s the cheese. Too much dairy not only binds in the bowel, it can also block the uptake of iron. If you are taking iron supplements for low iron, you may want to look at excess dairy as a cause.

Protein/Carb balance

Some find that they go high protein or paleo and omit or reduce carbs to help manage other health issues like blood sugar. They then complain that the protein is causing constipation. It may end up that it isn’t actually the protein causing the back up, it is the low fibre. When you remove grains, you remove the key source of fibre but there are other sources. Fresh fruits and vegetables not only contain significant fibre, they come with water content and plenty of nutrients and enzymes to help you digest.

In the end, (get it?) you really want to get your poop in a group and adjust all that you can with your diet and medication consumption first. If that doesn’t work, try an over the counter medication that will give you predictable overnight relief . And, for goodness sake, talk about it, talk to your friends, talk to your partner, talk to your doctor to make sure you cover all the bases.