Season 3 Episode 8 of Quiet the Diet Podcast with Michelle Shapiro, RD and Halie Schoff, DC
Improving Constipation and the Nervous System Connection With Dr. Halie Schoff
In this episode, Michelle sits down with Dr. Halie Schoff, a practitioner specializing in functional medicine, clinical nutrition, and chiropractic care. Throughout their conversation, they explore the intricacies of digestion and absorption, Dr. Halie’s go-to hacks for improving gut health, and some fascinating insights from Eastern medicine. They discuss common issues such as constipation and how stress and gut motility can impact our digestive health.
In this episode, Michelle and Dr. Halie discuss:
- Dr. Halie’s personal journey of overcoming an eating disorder and gut issues
- The connection between gut health and mental well-being
- How to create a positive and stress-free environment for optimal digestion
- Gut health “go-to hacks” from Dr. Halie
- How our mental state, posture, and the environment in which we eat influences digestion
- The impact of hormonal imbalances and eating patterns
Dr. Halie’s Resources:
Work with Michelle:
Connect with Michelle:
Improving Constipation and its Nervous System Connection With Dr. Halie Schoff
I am joyously here with the amazing Dr. Halie Schoff, someone who, much like many of my other guests, I stalked into being my colleague and friend on Instagram. I just would repost her posts every day. I was like, yes, I extremely agree with that, and, yes, I extremely agree with that to the point where you really had no choice but to be friends with me. So thank you so much for allowing my coercive efforts to get into your world, and I’m so freaking excited for you to be here today.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:00:53]:
I’m so excited to be here, too. I was so excited when you had launched your podcast because we had you on my podcast, and then I saw that you were launching yours. I’m like, oh, my gosh, she’s got a great platform. She’s got so many things she can talk about. So I’m very happy to be able to now be sharing some wisdom here and chatting with you on yours.
And you definitely have a lot of wisdom to share with everyone. Give us the really high level professional accreditations. Tell us about you a little bit, and then we’re going to, of course, dive deep into our topic today. Tell us about Dr. Halie.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:01:24]:
Okay, so I have my Bachelor of Science in biology. I originally thought I wanted to do pre pharmacy, and I completely took a 180. I was like, oh, I’ll do pre pharmacy. Maybe I’ll do drug research. And then I’m like, yeah, no, that’s not my vibe anymore. So I completely switched, and I decided that I wanted to go to chiropractic school. So I went to chiropractic school here in the Finger Lakes in New York. So I did that, got graduated with my doctor of chiropractic along with my Master’s of Science in applied clinical nutrition, because I always knew I wanted to combine the two.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:01:58]:
I didn’t know at the time how heavily my practice would be weighed. I’d say 75% functional medicine, clinical nutrition, and probably like 20% to 30% chiro, which I love. I love being able to have both, but I never would have known that at the time. A few years kind of into practice, I decided I wanted to just kind of continue learning, get, not recertified, but do integrative health practitioner. Back in college, I got my strength and conditioning certification, so I was doing a lot of personal training, and I still do a little bit of that, but I’m in a million different baskets. I’m in the fitness. I like, really bridging fitness and health and showing how you can kind of have both together and how you can have just kind of a holistic perspective to health and wellness. Because I think coming from the fitness space, I see how unhealthy there are some unhealthy tendencies there.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:02:56]:
So it’s very cool. I work with a lot of people in bodybuilding or just kind of coming from that space who want to focus on their hormones, their gut health, all the things. But I love what I do. I have a podcast and it’s so great because I get to connect with like minded people like you and I’m just so thankful to genuinely love what I do. I was just out of town for a girlfriend’s bachelorette and I bought WiFi on the plane so I could work and answer emails and I don’t know. I do know the fine line of taking a break, but I genuinely love what I do and I’m so happy to be sharing it with everybody.
It is very evident that you love what you do and that you also are a person who collects so much knowledge from so many different disciplines. And I love that you said almost to be a holistic provider, you actually have to have knowledge in each of those arenas whereby some holistic providers kind of stay very narrow. So that’s really amazing that you do too.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:03:54]:
And you have a very yeah, it’s cool, especially because I feel like what I’m interested in is kind of like showing even almost like my health progression. Right. I was really into health and fitness and then it’s like then I came off birth control and then I’m really interested in hormones and healing my skin and now that’s so much of what I do in practice. So it’s cool because I think I’m so passionate about so much of what I do is because it’s kind of almost emulated my own health and healing journey, which I think is really cool. We all have a pain to purpose or something that we’re really passionate about that lights us up and a lot of that kind of might stem from things that we’ve gone through. So definitely I couldn’t agree more.
Yeah, I think my desperation to become a dietitian was first to figure out all the secrets of weight loss when I had an eating disorder. Honestly, I was like, I’m going to pursue this career so I could learn the tricks of the trade and do it better than other people somehow. And then of course, as a result of that ended up with all these gut issues and anxiety and that’s what I love treating now. It’s because we’ve become so desperate to find these answers for ourselves. And I do believe in some ways the universe or God’s blessing the pain we go through to be able to help others with it. So I love that you shared that part of your personal health journey too. And I also just have to say about you before again we get into this topic, I feel like your lifestyle is so cool because you are truly ancestral, you’re truly functional in the way that you live your life. Tell us a little bit more about that just because I think it’s very cool.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:05:16]:
Thank you. Well, it’s so cool to kind of just look back and see how much it’s transformed. But in terms of kind of where we are now. We’re very much so farm to table and a lot of what we eat. Very protein forward, nose to tail as much as we can. Adding organ meats is something that we’ve really been into the last few years. And just noticing the health benefits from that, trying to eat seasonally, obviously, minimizing additives, and just kind of really sticking to whole food in its most whole form. And then kind of on the lifestyle component, really moving our body.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:05:53]:
That feels good. Not under training, not over training. Finding kind of what works for our body. We have a home gym, which we had that before COVID but now we’ve really just kind of made it everything that we could possibly want, which we love. It’s just conducive to our schedules. We sauna. We cold plunge. Our recent kind of functional journey has been really diving into sober, curious, and wow, I never thought that that’s something that not that I was never a big drinker, like, in college.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:06:24]:
Yes. But in my adult life, I just didn’t feel like the way that it felt. And then just seeing so much of practitioners and people on Instagram talking about it now, that’s kind of like something that we’re diving into. And I’ve went on two vacations. I just went on a rowdy bachelorette party and completely sober, and I feel amazing.
Oh, that’s awesome.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:06:43]:
It’s really cool. It’s just cool to see. And I’m not pushy in it by any means. Please do what works for you, but I’m just kind of sharing some things that we’ve done that our journey has. If you would have known me, if you’re someone who’s followed me since the beginning or known me, you could have seen the progression. I didn’t start here. I got here through trial and error, seeing what works for my body. So if you’re listening to this and you’re newer in your health journey, you might be, like, overwhelmed at how much of a potential there is to do all these things, but don’t look at it in that sense.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:07:14]:
Just look at all these different ideas you have as you kind of evolve around your journey.
I’d also say that it’s more of a fun aspirational idea, again, just because I love that you’re a practitioner who walks the walk. You don’t need to to be a good practitioner, but it’s always awesome. And I also feel like the part you missed out on in speaking of your own amazingness is that I’m obsessed with how much time you spend. Like, I feel like every time I see you, you’re doing some amazing activity outdoors. I’m, like, literally jealous when I see the cool stuff that you’re like, wow, jealous is the word. I’m like, Go, Haley, I love it. I just feel like that’s a huge part of your story, too, is that outdoor time and just really connecting with nature and yourself. And when you’ve been saying we you do a lot of this stuff with your husband, too, which is really fantastic.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:08:03]:
Yeah. We bonded over health and fitness from the beginning, so it is really cool that we’re very much so partners in this journey, which I could not do it with. I don’t think I would have evolved if we weren’t doing it together. So when we’re hiking with our dog, which our dog is a huge part of the reason we’re outside a lot, but being just outside, I think every podcast that I go on, they’re like, what’s the biggest tip? I’m like, get outside.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:08:33]:
Tree. If you’re in the city, like, the simplest of things, try to find ways. I mean, there’s so many studies on forest bathing, especially, like, it’s a Japanese kind of thing of I don’t remember the Japanese word for it, but forest bathing is a very healing modality. And just literally stepping outside, there is a study where it shows city congested distress response from just even being in those two looking at those two environments, not even being like, go to a park. Our health, like, whether we’re hiking, just walking around the neighborhood, it doesn’t have to be crazy, but any way that I can be outside, that’s my happy place.
Exactly. And I really like this idea kind of tying in the two things you said about sobriety or sober curiosity like you’re saying, and your partnership is a lot of our health also is determined by the people we spend time with. I think that’s a huge factor in our health and happiness. I know. For myself, I haven’t drank in probably ten years just because part of my anxiety was also not wanting to feel out of control. So I stopped smoking weed and drinking. I was like, OOH, I don’t like that I don’t have full brain control here. And then I kind of just kept not doing it.
So now my friends know if we’re at a bar, I’m literally asking them if they have ginger extract behind the bar. And I’m like, pour some of that and lemon in a cup for me. Let’s keep this digestive fire going throughout the night.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:09:49]:
My friends know this. They’ll joke and send me pictures when they’re drinking tea at a restaurant. They’re like, oh, I wish you were here. I’m drinking tea for you at 09:00 p.m.. Because I also don’t digest things late, which we’re going to talk about today too.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:10:00]:
But you really oh, my gosh. I did not know that about you.
Actually, I literally have to go to bed at like 830 or nine. My digestive fire truly stops being efficient by like, 04:30 p.m.. So I always joke because my mother in law, every Sunday goes out to dinner with my husband and my father in law, and I love them, and we’re really close, but I tell her, I’m like, if it’s past six, I’m eating like a baked potato at the dinner table because I can’t be digesting meat that late. I don’t have the liver function for it. So it’s just kind of my natural pattern. And what I’ve learned for myself is I like, it does. I mean, again, once it’s dark for me, like four or 05:00 A.m. Is breakfast time for me.
And then I’m done eating usually by like five or six. Just because it’s what I like, not because that works for anyone else. But it’s definitely a funny thing that thank God I have the friends that I have and the family that I have, my mother in law, because I’m like, I can’t go to your 07:00 steakhouse dinner. I’m not going to make it to that.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:10:56]:
I don’t like eating dinner super late. We are usually eating dinner by five. And I always say, even if you aren’t on, that not extreme that you are or like that pattern that you are. Like, if you have to stop by 430, even if you at least stop two to 3 hours before you want to go to bed, I mean, that’s a good time frame, I feel like, for most people. But you can make it obviously more bio individual depending on and why is that?
Dr Halie Schoff [00:11:23]:
You don’t really want to be digesting when you’re trying to sleep. You don’t want to be asking many other things of your body. Because if we’re trying to actively digest a really heavy meal, it’s going to kind of push those sleep cycles a little bit because your body is just worrying about getting that stuff out of your stomach. And of course you’re digesting throughout the night. Yes, but you don’t want to be in the heavy stages of digesting a heavy meal right before bedtime. And I’m sure a lot of people, if you think about it, if you’ve gone out and you’ve eaten at 910 o’clock and then you’ve gone to bed after, I mean, you can see you might be tossing and turning. You might feel like you’re up more in the night. I mean, if you kind of are now mindful of it, you can think of those instances.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:12:09]:
Whereas if you have it earlier in the day your digestion is done, then you can just solely focus on, I’m going to go in and out of these sleep cycles. And it’s taking so much stress off of your liver and your digestive organs so that your body can do the one focus that it wants to do, which is sleep. So that’s honestly a huge just simple hack.
Just make sure you’re done eating super simple hack.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:12:30]:
Ideally, especially if you struggle with bloating or constipation when you’re constantly asking so much of your digestion when you’re trying to do other things. And that includes even working, driving. We should not be eating when we’re trying to do other things, which is something that’s hard. I know we live in a fast paced world it’s go, go.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:12:54]:
But if you can kind of just try to at least be intentional and mindful of when you’re eating, you’re going to produce a lot more digestive enzymes, have a lot stronger stomach acid. So yeah, it’s a whole kind of like, rabbit hole that I’m sure we’ll go into.
Oh, we’re going to get into that. We’re jumping into rabbit holes all day today. That’s what we’re going to do. Yeah. So this is the question I have as a follow up for you to kind of kick us off, which, hilariously, I haven’t even said what the topic of this episode is. Besides, if I make an intro, then I will have said it in the intro. But we’re going to talk about constipation specifically today. So when we think of digestion, I kind of have this visual of for many people, digestion is this thing that you kind of eat something and then you just kind of poop it out.
Would you say digestion is a more involved process than that?
Dr Halie Schoff [00:13:41]:
That’s a good question. Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff. Digestion is very like a mental thing, too. I forget the correct terminology, but even just seeing you preparing the food, your digestive enzymes, your mouth starts to water. I would say it’s a simple process, but there’s a lot of complex undertones.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:14:10]:
Yes, you eat the things, and I guess when you eat it, it doesn’t always mean that you’re absorbing. So you eat and you poop it out. But did you absorb? Were you able to process all the nutrients out of the food that you’re eating? So yes and no. And I love that you mentioned the digestive fire earlier, because I like speaking of that as well, that when you think of it as a fire, you think of, okay, what are things that can help stoke the fire versus there are certain things that can put out the fire or dampen the strength of the fire. Right?
Yeah. So when I’m thinking of digestion, I’m thinking of it’s not like only one organ. I think people often think of it as a stomach, where I think of the primary site of digestion as probably being the small intestine. I think of the liver, honestly, I mean, it depends on what yeah, the.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:14:55]:
Liver is a huge component, which I feel like nobody thinks of the liver for digestion.
Why does everyone leave the poor liver out? It’s so sad.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:15:02]:
Can you so important.
It is so freaking important.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:15:05]:
And I think that, again, when I have this visual of the digestive fire, and I think of our digestion being almost like, let’s think of our stomach acid as being like a VAT of acid. If we are super low in that VAT of acid and it’s not Corrosive, right. We need it to be like Corrosive and break things and burn things up really well. So when we pour something in and it could just sit there and the risk of it just sitting there because it’s not burning up and you don’t have enough acid or heat as we’re saying, the risk is that then what happens is you start having bacterial overgrowth from the food that’s just sitting there and not being utilized properly. Can you briefly tell us the difference in your head between digestion and absorption? Because I think of them as kind of two different legs.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:15:44]:
Yeah, so I think of digestion kind of like you said, where it’s like you’re eating something, you are breaking it down, and your body’s getting rid of what it doesn’t need. Whereas absorption is as it’s working through your small intestine, as it’s working through your large intestine, what nutrients are being extracted out? And to that point, how is the integrity of that gut lining? Are things getting through that shouldn’t be getting through? Like, is there any intestinal permeability or leakiness to that gut which can impact, I guess, too much absorption? That’s why people have food sensitivities or things like that, because things that are in this food that ideally shouldn’t be getting through are getting through. And that is technically in the whole digestive process. Because I think of digestion as the whole tube from mouth to anus. It is everything in between. Plus the accessory organs, like we talked about with the liver and the gallbladder, which the gallbladder is just something that we just love to just completely cut out.
Just take the whole organ.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:16:45]:
Okay, yeah, just take it out. Which I understand if someone’s having, like, cold, not a question, whatever, but why is that person having attacks in the first place? What are they doing to tax that organ? That I just think it could be very much so preventable in a lot of cases anyways. So there’s kind of the mouth to anus that whole tube. But then we’ve got, obviously the accessory organs and all those types of things that are helping your body to like the liver and gallbladder, releasing bile to help break down and absorb fats and fat soluble nutrients, which is very popular or very important. A lot of people are very deficient in fat soluble nutrients. It’s so important for all of my people who are really working on skin health, why are we deficient in those?
Why do you think? There’s a lot of people really have.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:17:33]:
Just horrible bile production and honestly, not great liver health in general. Absolutely not saying, like, everyone has liver disease, but non alcoholic fatty liver disease is quite abundantly on the rise. And with that, some people can just have sluggish liver. Like you said, you know, that’s something you struggle with. I know that’s something I struggle with big time. And so I just know that I have to give a little bit more love, maybe some digestive bitters or dandelion teas and things like that, to just kind of help support that. Because absolutely, if you’re not releasing bile. You’re not going to be digesting and absorbing all these you’re doing all these great things to eat all this food.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:18:12]:
We want to make sure you’re actually utilizing it. And that does come down to how you break it down. So that does start in your mouth with are you chewing? Which a lot of people aren’t. Some people are like, yeah, I’m seeing like whole pieces of carrots and asparagus in my stool, I’m like, how many bites of food are you taking? Like five bites? Are you taking 25 bites? It really does start here, but then chemically, there’s a huge chemical process of the digestive enzymes, bile, stomach acid, all that stuff that is going to help not only break down the food, but the more that it’s broken down or the more efficient that it’s broken down, the better you’ll be able to absorb and utilize totally.
And I think this idea that we’re taking food and that we digest it and then are extracting nutrients from it is probably new for a lot of people too. And really, really important to understand this idea also of food coming through our digestive tract. Just thinking about kind of the windy journey that food has to go down and encountering enzymes along the way and acid along the way. It is quite a complex journey and a lot can go wrong on that pathway for sure. So our topic today is really focused on something that I think centers around our lower digestion. So what I think of more not as those accessory organs, our liver and our gallbladder, but funny enough, they are actually related to this conversation, but I think of them as centering maybe around like the small intestine and the stomach. So the current kind of treatment that I see for constipation generally from a conventional medicine perspective, as we know, is the prescription of laxatives. I see a lot of prescription of Linzest.
That’s a popular medication I see now and then colase, stool softeners, things like that. People do self treatment for constipation at home. They take laxatives, miralax, milk of magnesia, those kind of things. And now I’m seeing a little more like magnesium. And then I would see in a conventional nutrition office, what you’re going to see is drink more fiber. I mean drink more water and eat more fiber. That’s kind of the two recommendations we see the most. Let’s talk about where are we going wrong in conventional medicine and conventional nutrition.
What point are we missing? Why we’re not treating constipation right, so to speak?
Dr Halie Schoff [00:20:27]:
I think a huge portion that we’re missing is the nervous system connection and specifically with the vagus nerve, because the vagus nerve is a cranial nerve, so it’s coming out of the brain stem and it’s going and innervating multiple different organs. A lot of those organs are digestive organs, especially the small intestine. And so the vagus nerve is very cool because it deals with parasympathetic activity, which rests, and digests is a parasympathetic activity. So if that vagus nerve is stressed or if you are under stress or if you are not breathing properly, which a lot of people can be more chest breathers and not belly breathers, which when we’re belly breathing, it’s more parasympathetic. So more rest and digest versus, like, chest breathing. There’s actually a really cool case story from a colleague of mine who he had a patient who chronically constipated, relied on Miralax every single day, taught her how to belly breathe and really activate her vagus nerve. She called the office. They called her two weeks later to say, hey, I just wanted to make sure everything’s okay.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:21:30]:
She’s like, oh, yeah, I’ve been having multiple bowel movements every single day. I know that that’s like, a very simplistic story, but I think that that just goes to show the importance of it. And when I think about, hey, okay, I’ll have patients message me. Hey, I’m having a little bit more constipation. What is different? Are you under stress? Were you traveling? Are you out of your routine? Because everyone says when I’m out of my routine, I do. And it’s like, okay, well, when you’re out of your routine, we’re very cyclic and routine creatures. We really like routine. And when we’re thrown off, that can be maybe a stress to your nervous system.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:22:02]:
You might be holding tension in your stomach instead of activating that vagus nerve. So I think a huge route to a lot of this stuff is nervous system. But obviously there’s other co infections or inflammation and stuff that can obviously prevent that from happening. But I think the biggest thing that can help a majority of the people is a lot of that nervous system balancing and parasympathetic activation.
Yeah, and I’ll walk it back for people in total layman terms too. When I think of our evolutionarily biologically, we think of if we were cavewoman cavemen and we were running from a bear, basically our body would stop our digestion entirely so that we could focus on running. And because digestion is not this thing that’s just happening, it’s actually a very energetically involved process. So it requires a lot of energy.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:22:54]:
And like you said, energetically involved.
It’s a huge demand on the body, like you said. So if your body is focusing on sleep, your body can’t also focus on digestion at the same time. It doesn’t do many different tasks perfectly well at the same time. So what happens is our digestion will kind of stop. So what we’re not realizing is we could be sitting in traffic, and that can be activating that, like you said, the fight or flight response versus that rest and digest response. And that’s happening probably to all of us, like 100 times a day without realizing. And our digestion works exactly with our brain to say, hey, is it time to digest or is it time to fight and run from a bear, so that can stop our digestion altogether. So I’m just reiterating your incredibly profound points, and it’s really important.
The other thing I wanted to back you up on, too, is oh, did you want to say something first, and I’ll come back around?
Dr Halie Schoff [00:23:42]:
So the other thing I wanted to back you up on, too, is you said, basically, digestion starts mentally. It starts when you first look at food. Our body literally will anticipate the needs of stomach acid, anticipate the needs of enzyme output based on even when you start smelling food, even when you start seeing food. Also, if you’re eating in a stressed environment like Haley, you’re saying our digestive system might shut down, so we might not be able to, A, digest the food or B, absorb the food in the same way, which is so important for people to hear and something that none of us are used to hearing. I’d also say that it’s so important in all this for our posture to be really good and in a way that feels safe for us to receive food and signals to our body, hey, it’s safe to receive. So this mental anxiety, the parasympathetic activation and all of that also, it sounds like, relates to your relationship with food, that if you’re scared of food and have food fears, that might actually stop your digestion, too. Can we talk about that a little bit?
Dr Halie Schoff [00:24:43]:
Yeah, I feel like that’s so much more. You’re the expert in all of that, but no, I totally agree, because if we have a bad mindset around it, it is going to trigger that potential sympathetic or fight or flight mode, like, oh, I don’t have a good relationship with this. I shouldn’t eat this. And if you think that your body’s going to feel that and so therefore, your digestion is going to say, okay, we’re not supposed to have this, we shouldn’t have this, but we’re eating. Get rid of it. We’ve just got to find a way.
To just get rid of it. And there’s also a legitimate mechanism by which our body induces peristalsis and the movement through our digestive tract that can, again, literally be stopped during times of stress. So that’s one component. What are some other root causes for constipation? Because obviously, you know, on this podcast and any podcast you’re on, we’re always talking about the functional nutrition approach, which is where you live. What are some other root causes of constipation that you see in either your patients or that you know to be true?
Dr Halie Schoff [00:25:45]:
So in terms of, like, gut co infections or infections or imbalances that might be in the gut, I see that be a common one. And that can be a lot of different things that can be SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which you kind of alluded to earlier when things just kind of sit there and they’re not moving super well. They can. Ferment and I. Think again, stress and gut motility is a huge kind of portion of that, which another portion of that too is frequency of meals. Like when we’re eating all the time, you’re never allowing the gut to be able to go through its migrating motor complex, which, in layman’s terms, the migrating motor complex is essentially just the food moving through the whole kind of GI tract that we said kind of goes from the mouth all the way to the end. And that takes about 90 minutes. So if you’re that person that eats every 2 hours, you are really not giving your digestive system a rest and so you’re asking a lot of it multiple times a day and that can deplete enzymes, that can slow down motility so that can cause constipation.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:26:53]:
So kind of meal timing or frequency of meals might be a component to it. It’s a full moon. I see parasites be a component of it. And I think a lot of people think that parasites are something we only get when we go to a third world country or we travel internationally and that is by no means the case. They’re very prevalent. If you have animals, we deworm our animals, but we let our animals sleep in our bed and kiss our face and we don’t even think about to deworm ourselves. So truthfully, I see that a lot in practice and when we can work on kind of clearing a lot of those things out, that helps. We talk SIBO the candida.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:27:32]:
So Candida is kind of I’d guess I’d group along with another co infection. Candida is essentially fungus. So for people who maybe are constantly craving sugar, constantly craving carbs, they feel like it’s almost uncontrollable cravings. I see that a lot kind of linked with things like Candida. Sometimes if you get fungal acne, which is kind of acne that is almost always there, it doesn’t come or go like maybe hormonal acne does. So those kind of are common symptoms with that that you might notice. But those are, I’d say, really big ones. There’s some hormonal components too.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:28:08]:
Hormonal imbalances to a point. Progesterone will naturally slow down gut motility a little bit. That’s why we can see pregnancy constipation be a little bit more prevalent. That’s not necessarily pathologic, it’s just kind of how it just is slowing it down a little bit. So you want to make sure you’re doing things to keep things flowing a little bit more. And you have to be a little bit more prevalent, especially when your progesterone is rising so much in something like pregnancy. But even in the luteal phase or second part of your menstrual cycle, after you ovulate, when we are supposed to be making progesterone, people might say, oh yeah, I’m getting constipated a little bit a few days before my period or a week before. If it’s to the point where you’re not going for a few days, that’s not good.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:28:51]:
But if you’re noticing that your gut motility is just a little slower. We just want to add some things in to improve it during that time, make sure you’re eating foods that are really easy to digest, taking some kind of stress off, and to kind of even just take it back even more. I think a lot of people consider constipation as, oh my gosh, I’m backed up. I haven’t gone in seven days. I consider constipation if you don’t have two to three bowel, like one at least one to at least one to three ideally one to three bowel movements a day. A day, if you go every other day, to me, that is somewhere on the spectrum of constipation. But obviously if you are going twice a week, we obviously would know, okay, that’s probably constipation. Or you don’t have to necessarily be, like, straining or have really hard to pass stool.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:29:41]:
That doesn’t have to be it’s a big symptom and very common. But I would consider if you’re not having one to three bowel movements a day, you’re somewhere kind of on that spectrum, and this is going to be very applicable to you.
Absolutely. And then how do you think people end up in this position where they’re not going to the bathroom, like, once a week? Do you think that’s like a leaky gut thing, a bacterial imbalance? Where do people end up? Do you see this as because there’s people with chronic constipation versus spontaneous constipation. So I think people who are going to enjoy this episode the most, or need this episode the most, are people with chronic constipation. What do you think are some of the drivers of that really chronic constipation that is not just happening acutely?
Dr Halie Schoff [00:30:24]:
I think a lot of that stems from the health and integrity of your gut that honestly starts from when we’re born. So are you C section? Are you vaginal birth? Because that’s going to have two different sets of your microbiome, and this is no shame to anybody, I think, when I say this, I never want to make people feel bad like, oh, I was a C section birth. It’s okay. These are just things that are just important to ask because it’s just part of the big picture. Yeah. And speaking to that, okay, then, were you bottle fed? Were you breastfed? Because that’s going to give you a different microbiome outlay. Were you on a lot of antibiotics as a kid? Which a lot of people that I’m working with, a lot of us were for strep throats and ear infections and things like that. And it’s like, okay, you kind of stack those cards not so great in your favor, and we wonder why we see constipation and then constipation then turns into other things.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:31:21]:
Constipation turns into acne. It can turn into estrogen dominance. It can turn into all these different things. And it’s like, oh my gosh, why is this stuff happening to me? When constipation and just not releasing daily is honestly a huge root cause for a lot of different things that we can see and especially chronic wise, a lot of that stuff does stem from kind of what has been happening in your younger years, even starting from birth and infancy.
And it sounds like also you’re addressing this piece of digestion, which is that it’s also part of our detoxification process and part of our drainage process, right?
Dr Halie Schoff [00:32:00]:
Yeah, it’s the most important piece of drainage. When people think of drainage and detox, they’re like, oh, my liver sweating. It’s like, no, if your liver is trying to push things out, it pushes things out in your stool so you can get rid of it. And if that is backed up, you’re creating a huge chaos for everything else. So if it’s not coming out there, it’s going to find other ways to come out. It’s going to come out through your skin. It’s going to end of breath, it leaks. I’ve seen a CellCore has a really nice image for this.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:32:32]:
It’s like an upside down triangle and it’s your funnel. It’s like at the bottom. And the most important part is your colon from there is like your liver and kidneys, the bile ducts, that kind of stuff. But then you work up and then it’s like all the way to the cellular level at the top where it’s like you are never going to detox cellularly if you aren’t pooping. You’re never going to be able to cleanse, I guess per se. I hate that word sometimes. But optimally be able to just drainage and detox is something we go through on a daily basis. We want to get rid of what doesn’t need to be there.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:33:05]:
We want to clear up the gunk and stuff. And that really does all start with are you pooping daily? Absolutely. So important. Because think about how just crappy you feel if you don’t go. Like if you’re someone who is very regular and then you don’t go for a few days, you’re like, I feel disgusting. Or you might start noticing, oh, I’m having a breakout is coming up. Or your menstrual cycle might be a little bit different. You might have a little bit more PMS because you aren’t releasing those hormones and those endotoxins and things that your body did a great job of packaging, that when we don’t release them in our bowels, all those things are continuing to recirculate, recirculate.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:33:43]:
And so when that happens, they have to be reprocessed through the liver. And so it just becomes a really inconvenient thing. So if you want to do one thing for your health, just go poop every single day.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:33:53]:
Be regular because it’s so important.
I’m going to bite back at you for listeners because I’m telling you, they’re going to be like, I tried everything. I want to poop so badly. I think we are saying it’s so important to go to the bathroom. So for people who don’t have chronic constipation but are occasionally constipated, understanding that importance and then let’s talk about what people can literally do. What can people actually do? And this is not medical or nutrition advice. This is just us talking through some ideas of what people with chronic constipation could do if they are self treating or working with an amazing practitioner like you, where do they start with constipation?
Dr Halie Schoff [00:34:36]:
So the first thing, I feel like you mentioned this earlier, a lot of people go to something like Miralax or something like that. The problem I usually have with those. A lot of that can be very habit forming. So you can form a reliance on that, whereas that’s harmful in the sense where if you’re struggling with constipation, you want to be able to get into your own rhythm of, okay, I’ve been up for 30 minutes. I should be having a bowel movement. I’ve been up for an hour. Like I moved around. Like I should be having a bowel movement.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:35:04]:
You shouldn’t have to drink that Miralax or whatever to have a bowel movement. Honestly, I really like starting like if you want to kind of optimize your digestive fire, get your bowels moving, starting the day to kind of going back to our digestive fire, starting the day with some warm liquid. I really love doing warm water, some lemon, and a little bit of aloe vera juice because aloe vera juice is super nice. It’s really soothing to the GI system. It’s great for people who have any intestinal inflammation. I think it tastes good. I just really enjoy it, honestly. And the lemon is because it’s bitter, it’s going to kind of help your body produce a lot of natural enzymes and acids.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:35:39]:
And because it’s warm, it’s stoking the digestifier. So even the difference between this is very interesting in Eastern medicine and my acupuncturist actually told me this years ago, but drinking something warm is so much better for your digestive system than drinking something cold and instinctually. I’m like, I hate drinking something cold unless I’m sweating and I’m out in the summer and whatever. But of course it generally doesn’t feel good to me. And it’s interesting because it’s really not super great for your digestion. So even just being able to start your day something warm, something to stimulate whole food nutrition, to stimulate those enzymes and acids, that’s something that I do every day, whether I’m struggling post travel or whatever, it’s something that’s kind of a part of my routine.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:36:25]:
I love doing that. I mean, there’s certain teas, like senna is a great herb that you can use, and ginger and licorice. You can use herbs to your advantage to just kind of just help bring down some inflammation because depending on what the root cause of your constipation is, which that’s obviously step one. Like, you want to maybe kind of do a little bit of digging, maybe take a little bit of self history into some of the things that we’ve talked about to be like. Okay. I was on antibiotics a lot. Or I don’t eat a lot of probiotic rich foods, or I don’t really have a lot of any diversity in my diet or whatever it may be. So it’s kind of important to, one, figure out your root cause.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:37:03]:
But things that, again, I like to do. Warm water, lemon, aloe vera juice is great. You can even just take a shot of aloe vera juice. I love certain teas. You don’t want to rely on your coffee for your morning bowel movement, because if you do rely on your coffee for your morning bowel movement, I would not consider that. You just don’t want it. You’d want to do it without your coffee. If you have to rely on coffee, it’s better than, I guess, a laxative, I’d say, but ideally, we’d want you to have it without.
That makes sense.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:37:34]:
I love magnesium, especially because I feel like a lot of people are just deficient in magnesium or suboptimal, I guess I should say, in magnesium. So that’s a great nutrient, and I really like taking that at night so you can feel the destress benefits. You can really get a lot of the sleep benefits with it, too, but then it’s really great because it helps pull, like, especially citrate, it’s helping to pull water into the colon to just be able to keep things nice and moving. Nice and great. I love castor oil packs. Castor oil packs are awesome. I use those very frequently. And castor oil is a very antioxidant rich oil, but it’s able to penetrate the dermis of the skin, and it’s very soothing.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:38:14]:
It’s very anti inflammatory. It helps stimulate kind of that liver gallbladder to contract and release the bile to be able to move stuff. So you just kind of wear it right over your liver. I wear it at nighttime. You can wear it anytime.
But she’s literally a great modality for listeners. She’s literally talking about taking castor oil and putting it on a cloth and actually putting on the outside of your liver. And what that literally does is you absorb the nutrients from that, which can help with antioxidant activity that digestive fire, like we were talking about and all that. Keep going. I just wanted to re explain. Yes.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:38:46]:
Yeah. And then ginger is really great. So whether it’s ginger tea or just, like, using that herb in your food, oh, gosh, I feel like I have so many different things. Belly breathing, I notice when I meditate, like, after I kind of have my warm water and I meditate, I’m like, all right, I’m good. Movement is helpful, too. So if you’re kind of struggling, you can drink that water and then go for a little bit of walk, do some yoga or stretching. Like, movement is really important because that’s sometimes a really great way to just stimulate that movement. So I’d say, yeah, those are kind of like my favorite.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:39:19]:
I’m trying to think if I’m forgetting something, I probably am, but those are, I’d say are my super simple go to hacks. I mean, you can try probiotic rich foods depending on how you tolerate probiotics. I love caffeine, I love sauerkraut, I love kimchi, I love being able to utilize those foods to help diversify the microbiome, get different microorganisms to kind of help repopulate the gut. Bone broth is also good too, because bone broth is a great whole food source of glycine and glutamine, which those two amino acids are really great at healing inflammation in the gut, sealing up any leakiness or intestinal permeability that might be there that can hinder your digestion. So I just honestly love being able to kind of utilize as much of whole foods as we can, but if needed, being able to use really smart and specific herbs or supplementation just to kind of help pinpoint where you might be lacking.
And I hear from what you’re saying that on one hand, these are symptom supportive interventions, but on the other hand, they actually are in some cases treating the root cause like something like fermented foods. If the issue with your constipation is actually a bacterial imbalance because of, like you said that you took antibiotics 30 years ago, a bunch when you were a kid, and now your gut is still imbalanced because it can take that long to recover honestly without intervention. You’re saying that anything that also targets the root is going to help the problem and might have symptom support too? I like that you also said if you tolerate that’s really funny.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:40:55]:
Your dog sorry, Amazon’s here, so my dog’s freaking out.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:41:01]:
I’ll mute myself.
I like how you were saying also things like again that pull water into the gut. We understand that fiber can help for a couple of different reasons also. So I’m not ruling out fiber for people with constipation. I just think there’s more solutions for people than just fiber and water. Essentially tell us a little bit more about why drinking adequate water, moving and fiber are actually important for constipation and what they do any of them or all of them, what they do to help.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:41:33]:
So, I mean, I guess all of them together really help to just form mass to be able to move through the stool. I mean, there’s people who maybe don’t get there might be people on more of like a plant based side where they get like 40, 50 grams where there might be people maybe some days I get 2030, but both people should still be able to have regular bowel movements. So, I mean, it’s very kind of specific to your diet and lifestyle and where you’re at, but it is really helpful for just kind of forming something in the gut and then obviously, water being able to use it like chia seeds soaked in water is a really great remedy too, which I just honestly like to do that sometimes as well. The soaking kind of helps reduce some of the anti nutrients in there, and it forms almost like a gel when mixed with water. So that’s kind of nice to just work through the intestines and naturally help to pull stuff. Raw carrots are great. Like if you’ve ever seen people do, like the raw carrot salads, which is great for hormones and estrogen dominance and things like that, but because it has both soluble and insoluble fiber, you’re helping to feed the good probiotics and the microbiome in your gut. But you’re also with the insoluble, the stuff that’s not being able to be broken down, being able to just grab different endotoxins and just stuff that doesn’t need to be there and kind of pull it out.
Dr Halie Schoff [00:42:53]:
So, I mean, those are really great, functional foods that people can use to really be able to, again, just make this, like, a normal kind of part of their routine. It’s not a cleanse. It’s not something you do for it’s like, okay, this is something I can add into my lifestyle regularly to just ensure that I’m having healthy bowel movements.
That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s extremely helpful for people. And we’re giving, like, specific foods, I think, that are super supportive and also talking about always bringing it back to you still have to find the root cause of why your digestion is doing that in the first place. And I like starting at your nervous system. I think I completely agree with you. I mean, I always agree with you, but really, really agree with you on that, too. So I think that you’ve given an abundance of information for people and strategies, and starting with any one of these could make maybe a small difference for someone, which can hopefully reset that cycle that we see with constipation. So.
Thank you, Dr. Halie.