#3 Staying Regular
Is it really that important? The only way cholesterol leaves the body is via the bowels; if they sit in the bowels long enough, almost all of it can be reabsorbed! In Chinese medicine, regulating bowel function is the main treatment for skin conditions such as acne. High blood pressure, hemorrhoids, fatigue and chemical sensitivity can all be related to slow bowel function. Remember, bowel function (both constipation and diarrhea) may also tell us about our nervous system balance in addition to how well we are digesting and absorbing foods (see post #2 Mindful Eating).
Constipation can be due to more serious causes such as hormonal dysfunction, neurological dysfunction or impaction so make sure these causes are ruled out. Most people on a western diet suffer from mild constipation. Adequate fiber and fluid intake, as well as regular exercise, mindful eating, stress management and acupuncture can help to normalize bowels. When necessary, stool softeners and laxatives may also be used but remember, long term use of laxatives (including herbal laxatives) should only be used under the supervision of a doctor.
Photo courtesy of S. Duprey