Your Gut And The Science Of Constipation: What It Says About Your Health! – with Dr. Tenesha Wards


Today on the Gut Health Reset Podcast, we are discussing constipation, diet, and gut health with special guest Dr. Tenesha Wards! Everybody hates feeling constipated, but if you or someone you know or take care of has constipation, it could provide useful insights into their overall health, if you know what to look for. Constipation is often a sign of deeper gut health issues, and knowing what could be causing it will help you overcome it!


In today’s episode, we will answer these questions:

– Why are so many kids constipated?

– What are the potential problems with baby formula?

– Why should you avoid citric acid?

– What is the connection between your brain chemistry and leaky gut?

– How can you tell if your child is constipated?

– And more!


Still want to learn more? Schedule with Dr. Barter today!


Supplements From This Episode:

Constipation Support


About Dr. Tenesha Wards:

Dr. Tenesha Wards is the founder of Infinity Wellness Center in Austin, Texas. She is a functional medicine doctor and a holistic doctor. She specializes in finding and correcting the core root cause of conditions like Fatigue, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, and other Medical Mysteries. She is helping people bring the problem to light!

Subscribe for more gut health content and share this podcast with a friend! Take a screenshot of this episode and tag Dr. Ann-Marie Barter:

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter is a Functional Medicine and Chiropractic Doctor at Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic. She is the clinic founder of Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic that has two offices: one in Longmont and one in Denver. They treat an array of health conditions overlooked or under-treated by conventional medicine, called the “grey zone”.



Dr. Tenesha Wards: So what we do is we call it healing and sealing the gut. We we have to remove inflammatory foods that that’s things like processed sugar, gluten, dairy. Then we put in different nutrients, amino acids, things that can heal probiotics, prebiotics that can heal the gut. But if we don’t take away those inflammatory foods, it’s like putting gasoline on a fire. We’re trying to put out. It’s just keeping you get stuck in this inflamed situation. And yeah, if you’re not pooping, you’re not healing.

Intro: Are you struggling with bloating, gas constipation and fatigue, but don’t know what’s causing these problems? The Gut Health Reset Podcast with Dr. Ann-Marie Barter dives deep into the root causes behind these issues that start in the gut. This podcast will give you the knowledge you need to heal your gut and reset your health.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Dr Ward’s, it is such a pleasure to have you on the podcast today, I’m super excited about this. Actually, what we’re covering today was from one of my patients was actually one of the major questions if we could cover on the podcast. So thank you so much for being here.

Dr. Tenesha Wards: Oh, thank you for having me. I’m excited to dive into it.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Awesome. OK, so we are talking about constipation and children. So why are children constipated?

Dr. Tenesha Wards: So first of all, poop is one of my favorite subjects. I think it’s one of the most important things in your in your health. And I say this probably 10 times a day in the office. If you’re not sleeping, pooping and hydrated, you can’t heal like those three things are so foundational. So much so that my six year old at the time she was two, knew the Bristol stool chart. If you don’t know what the Bristol stool chart is, I really I encourage you to go look it up and she would come and tell me, Mommy, it was a three or four and I’m like, Good job. And if it wasn’t, I would say, OK, let’s let’s let’s go look at your stool and let’s figure out why. So I really think this is a myth that children don’t know about good bowel movements, and we are seeing constipation so much. And honestly, I think it comes down to two things diet and stress. I say all the time you can’t rest and digest when you’re in fight or flight. And I do think that children and you know, maybe not my two year old is much right. But she’s six now. But children in school, they’re under so much stress. Social media watching technology. And I really think that affects their digestion. But a lot of it, I think, comes down to diet, right? The standard American sad diet. Unfortunately, we’re just not eating Whole Foods like we should be that help the bowels move, things that are packaged with preservatives and food dyes. We can’t digest that properly. So what does it do? It’s it’s in our bowels, and that affects a whole slew of things that I’d love to get into brain chemistry with the bowel, leaky gut leaky brain with children because I think that is an epidemic. One hundred percent.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: We’ll definitely get into that, let’s touch on diet really quick, so you said the standard American diet or sad. So let’s just start earlier. Let’s start with the formula, because what are the problems that we see with formula?

Dr. Tenesha Wards: Oh, that’s a tough. I mean, that’s a tough one, because I would say 90 percent of the formula on the market is full of preservatives. It’s soy protein, which can be hard to digest. And also cow dairy can be hard to digest for these little tiny guts. Taking it back even a step. Deeper is I think some of these babies come into the world with a compromised gut lining because mom’s gut lining was so compromised going into the pregnancy. So when they’re supposed to be forming their microvilli and all that, I say, the microvilli like little fingers in the gut and all the good prebiotics and probiotics, they might not even be able to take from mom right away because mom’s compromised. That’s that’s that’s so deep into the beginning of it that that could matter. And then, yeah, definitely. Breast milk helps form immunity antibodies right in the body. But also, I believe it helps the gut lining. And, you know, not everybody can breastfeed. So that sometimes is a myth. And and I recommend either making your own homemade for formula. There’s a really great formula by the Weston Price Foundation that I love a homemade formula or the best one I’ve seen people do well with. Unfortunately, some of it’s hard to get into in the U.S. is goat or sheep milk based because we’re. The big picture of that is we’re smaller animals than cows, so our enzymes are different and smaller, so we and we’re closer in size to sheep or goat. Still about the same species, obviously, but we can break that milk down the protein. The case in in that a little better than cow’s milk. I really think cows milk for children is very inflammatory. And it yeah, and it can cause constipation so quickly. I mean, we we also practice chiropractic and acupuncture in our clinic. So we have little babies that come in with colic all the time and constipation. And I think it’s the formula often and reflex and adjustments can help the nerves focus and work a little bit better with that. But oftentimes it’s like. Yeah, you can’t buy the the cheap stuff over the counter because it’s it’s the baby can’t digest it and it’s in it’s hard. It’s hard to make a homemade formula. There is a formula on the market that I like better called to Brita, and it’s an infant. They have an infant now and a toddler, and it’s Koryta is. Spanish for baby goat, so it’s goat focus, and you can find that at Whole Foods. The other one I like is Holly L-l. You have to get that overseas. You have to get it, I think, from Sweden. We tried that with our daughter when she was about a year and we were weaning her and she did OK. She did better with the Kurita, which was more convenient. So absolutely, I think formula can be not only harsh and you can’t digest it, but I also think it can, especially if the baby has Sawyer doubt dairy intolerances and they just don’t know. It can be damaging to the gut lining, and that’s really setting them up for failure with digestion going forward.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Absolutely. I 100 percent agree, and that’s what I generally CIC exactly what you see. I think that’s well said. Well said. So now we fast forward to a little bit older. We’re into solid foods and whatnot. So you just incorporate all these foods into your your child’s diet and then suddenly shut off. We have constipation. What is going on there?

Dr. Tenesha Wards: Yeah, so so even taking it to infancy, definitely adding one food at a time is important, I think, because if there is going to be a food intolerance, we need to know what that is and that’s hard to do and that’s time consuming as a mom, right? Like, we just want to give them everything off our plate. But really, I think that’s important. And then when you get into age, you know, three, four five. Stay away from anything packaged like it’s just not going to be good for the baby and the child. So we see everything we see everything from. Moms come in in the little baby’s constipated, they’re not pooping for three, four or five days. The analogy I like to use for that is, OK, what did you have for dinner last night? Let’s put that on your counter in your home and hike your heat up to ninety eight point six degrees core body temperature. What is that food going to do overnight the next day into the third day? It’s going to ferment. It’s going to rot that’s happening in your child’s gut. If they’re not pooping and I have a lot of tips and tricks and things we need to do to get them pooping until we can heal the gut, which is a possibly a whole nother conversation. But hopefully we’ll touch a little bit on gut healing. But that’s that’s that’s one thought. The other is, I’ve sat down with moms in my clinic. I’m like, OK, take me through a day of food. You know, what are you feeding the child? And she’s like, OK, well, for breakfast, wrapping pop tarts. But they’re not. They’re not the frosted ones, so they’re much healthier, you know? And so this is where we’re starting and and I’m like, OK, you know, for lunch, you know, it’s a lunch bowl or a sandwich with crackers and you know, a lot of dairy, just things that we, as humans aren’t built to break down. We’re not built to break down processed foods that have preservatives and chemicals and things. And so we have to take a step back and say, where’s the fruits and vegetables? Where’s the protein? You know, shopping a big one. I like to say shopping on the perimeter of the grocery store because everything in the aisle is going to be packaged and it’s going to have some sort of. Even if it’s organic, right, or even if it’s gluten free, that’s a big, big one I would love to talk about because. In order to make the gluten free cookies and crackers taste good, there’s often a lot of sugar and other things because like, I got to sell it right. So you have to be careful with that just because it says something like gluten free or organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy. All of those things in the aisles have to have some sort of preservatives to sit on the shelf. To have a shelf life in our bodies just are not made. Whether you believe in creation or evolution, like we’re just not made to break that stuff down. And we’re giving it to our little little kids and their poor little guts. We see more and more obesity in kids and dissention and bloating and constipation that I believe is setting them up for ultimately, brain chemistry and learning disorders, brain chemistry, imbalances and learning disorders.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So really? Absolutely. That’s really well said. And I think I really like what you said about the packaged foods. I think one of the craziest things that the preservatives that that is creeping into are getting a really plain foods almond milk, said coconut milk and things like that. Citric acid citric acid is mold and corn based. That’s how they make it. Most people think it comes from lemons sometimes. But I mean, you know, I mean, I know that you do a lot with mold. And so you know, as well as I do like that is so dangerous.

Dr. Tenesha Wards: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, mold toxicity, you know, there’s one thing to be in a house with mold and you’re being exposed to it. That’s a big deal. And your levels could be very high, but over time, they could also get high from eating these things over and over. And it’s on our foods and it’s, you know, in packaged foods and it’s. Yeah, definitely can can also affect the immune system, the brain chemistry, all of it. Ultimately, for those things.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Yeah, and that can affect the IQ. So of a child,

Dr. Tenesha Wards: there’s a big connection between brain and gut. Most of our brain chemicals are made in the gut lining serotonin, dopamine. The majority of them are made in our gut and then they go to our brains. So if the guts inflamed, if it’s not able to digest things, if it’s fighting chemicals and trying to, you know, get those out of the body, it’s going to cause ultimately leaky gut and inflammation. And then the body can’t regulate your brain chemicals when it’s inflamed like that. And then and then we see add ADHD. I really think a lot of that has to do with our food.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: But and and you said Leaky got as well. Correct. That has a lot to do with that as well. So do you want to just dove into that a little bit what you see with full blown brain chemistry disorders as well as leaky gut?

Dr. Tenesha Wards: Yeah. So we see a lot of kids come in with ADHD, ADHD, anxiety as young as age is like seven. It breaks my heart. Depression, especially the last two years with what’s been going on with the world. Teenagers with depression all the way from social anxiety and don’t want to leave their house to its deepest things is like harming themselves, like cutting. And that’s all brain chemical issues. And so we do a couple of things. When they come in, we run their brain chemistry through a urine test, so it’ll tell us the levels of dopamine, serotonin gaba. These things that we need to correct, which we could give the precursors for, we can give things like five to serotonin. And that’s only going to help so much. We have to address the core problem, which is the definition of functional medicine, right? Finding and fixing the core root problem, and that traces back to the gut. So people say sometimes, Hey, Doc, I came in for, you know, I brought my child in for focus issues. Why are we changing diet and doing, you know, all glutamine, some gut powders or aloe vera or whatever it is that we decided that the child needs to heal the gut? And I have to stop and explain what leaky gut is in the gut brain connection. So if the gut is inflamed long enough or it has. Parasites, bacteria, a whole ‘nother topic that can cause constipation, also, it can it can inflame the gut, which will eventually fill in the lining so the gut should have all this good flora, microvilli, probiotics, prebiotics enzymes as it’s inflamed, as it’s working harder as it has toxins like products with mold in it, food dyes, preservatives. It can wear down that lining and thin it in. And eventually it could be all sort of right like you can burn a hole in the gut lining in Western medicine really doesn’t recognize it till it’s all sort of we like to catch it much sooner in leaky gut, where things can just leak through the gut lining through these little junctions that should be really tight look like this. And so things that the body should recognize as intruders as bad stuff, it should flush it through your bowels and only absorb nutrients through through these little junctions. But when it thins bad, things can get through, including preservatives, dyes and that can settle and that can get into your whole system, including your brain, and cause lots of inflammation, learning disorders, issues there, and constipation. If the body’s not properly pulling the right things out and keeping the right things, it absolutely can can stop the production of proper bowel movements 100 percent. So what we do is we call it healing and sealing the gut. We we have to remove inflammatory foods. That’s things like processed sugar, gluten, dairy, nightshades. Not that I think nightshades are unhealthy and even nuts. They just take a lot of energy from the gut to break down, and we’re trying to heal it. So we’re trying to take the pressure off. So then we then we put in different nutrients, amino acids, things that can heal probiotics, prebiotics that can heal the gut. But if we don’t take away those inflammatory foods, it’s like putting gasoline on a fire. We’re trying to put out. It’s just keeping you get stuck in this inflamed situation. And yeah, if you’re not pooping, you’re not healing.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So many people struggle with bloating, bowel issues, brain fog, fatigue. You might not even have any gut issues, but did you know the cause of it could be food sensitivities or gut infections? What I have done is I have brought a talented functional nutritionist into my practice. We have very similar training in the nutritional world. And her name is Alexis Appleby. She is awesome. So you can head on over to our website: and have a consultation with her and schedule so that she can help you get to the root cause of your problems.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: And that’s really important, because if you’re doing all this off, if you find a parasitic infection on a stool test, if you find a Seebohm infection and they’re not pooping when you’re doing the die off. I mean, that’s dangerous and they’re going to feel terrible.

Dr. Tenesha Wards: Now you’re just now, you’re just really for lack of a better word, ticking off these bugs, stirring them up and not getting them out. You’re absolutely right. And let me tell you, you feel bad. You look bad. You feel bad. We see gas bloating circles under the eyes acne because the stuff’s trying to get out right. And so the quickest, fastest way for the body to get rid of toxins infections is through the skin. The optimal way is dumping it into the bowels and, you know, the liver, and it comes out optimally that way. If everything’s working properly otherwise yet tries to come out other ways and then your mood is not good, you feel bad if you’re not. Honestly, if you’re not pooping, you’re not happy. Your brain chemistry is not balanced. You’re probably irritable. Moody mood swings the whole thing, right? And nobody wants to feel like that.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So, so we’ve talked about some of the causes we’ve talked about, it can be gut bugs, it can be diet, it can be stress, which is another one that’s a big contributing factor. So what are some, you know, so a lot of times what I hear from parents is I think my child goes to the bathroom everyday. Do you go to the bathroom every day? And no, I mean, I don’t know. So what are some signs and symptoms that a parent can pick up that maybe their child could be constipated?

Dr. Tenesha Wards: Ooh, that that’s that’s a tough one, right, because you’re right, I think I go to the bathroom every day. Yeah, we don’t we don’t talk about it, right? We don’t talk about it in our culture. It’s almost taboo. And my first thought is open communication. And you know, I’ve had little boys that think this is so fun and so funny. Make it make a stool chart for me every day. What number was it? And we put a little picture of the Bristol stool chart next to the toilet, and if they didn’t go, yeah, we need, you know, we need to know that. And of course, sometimes we’ll go at school and things like that. So I think first, this is open communication. The other is distension. You know, little kids will get this little bloated belly. If they’re not going, they definitely like, you can definitely see the bloat. They might be thin and just kind of have this little belly. But also, mood, if you’re seeing a change in your child’s behavior, school focus grades definitely think brain chemistry and gut and not and not going skin to like I mentioned, if if it’s not coming out through the bowels toxins, we can’t avoid toxins. We live in a toxic world. We’ve created a world we can barely survive in, honestly. So your child is being exposed to toxins, walking, driving to school. You know, inhaling exhaust, right, that all has to come out through the body, through the limp, through the bowel. So if you are seeing and I’ve seen this lumps and bumps and little specifically where hair doesn’t grow, so backs of arms, backs of knees, chest, neck back these little pustule bumps or even harder acne on an eight year old on a 10 year old think the liver’s congested the bowels not working. The body’s trying to get rid of toxins. And I would also say, you know, things like belching or reflux if they’re constipated, the whole GI tract backs up. Look for things like that. You know, you mentioned Cibo, a child that sits down in belches five times through a meal definitely is probably having some gut imbalance, most likely constipation.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Awesome. That’s great. So what about if a child is having like accidents at school?

Dr. Tenesha Wards: Light like loose stools or pin.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: I just, I think, just can’t make it to the bathroom. Still is having a hard time, be potty trained, etc. So what’s your feeling on that? I think that’s a cause from constipation.

Dr. Tenesha Wards: I think it could be. Definitely. There’s a lot of thoughts with that. As a chiropractor, my first thought is, let’s look at your nervous function, your nerve function, other nerves that come out of the low back that go to the bowel imbalance and alignment. You know, I’ve definitely seen that. I’ve seen bedwetting go away with a couple of chiropractic adjustments because the anytime the spines misaligned, it puts pressure on the nerve. And if that brain, the brain can’t communicate with that organ properly through the nerve flow, it’s kind of like an electrical wire or a garden hose, right? If there’s a pinch in it, you may not be signaling. So that would be my first first thought for sure. The next would absolutely be diet and food. You know, if they’re constipated constipation, eventually you get so much food and stool in there that that it could just come out uncontrollably. Definitely look at a diet and then sometimes stress and nerves, right? How many people do you know have to run to the bathroom before they step on stage? Or, you know, or don’t go for two days because they’ve been traveling and then all of a sudden have loose stools when they’re in that rested digest safer space. So all of that could be a factor in matters.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So I can assume that parents are out there like this is my child. So what steps are necessary to address this issue? Because my primary care told me to take told my child to take me relax. You know, you know it, you know that that’s what comes in and and what we’re what we’re addressing, so why don’t you cover that?

Dr. Tenesha Wards: Yes, I have a child under care right now, and first of all, I’m not anti-Western medicine at all. There’s a time and a place. So if we’re talking your child the longest, I had a child come and have a ball movement was 13 days. My thought is, yes, let’s go ahead, and sometimes this is necessary, let’s get the imaging, let’s get let’s get the radiology and just make sure there’s not a tumor or a blockage or something crazy, right? If all that’s ruled out, which is usually what happens by time they end up in our office know that fiber mirror lacks even these magnesium citrate flushes that that gastro will recommend isn’t fixing or healing the problem. You’re just pushing and forcing stool and bowels to come out, right? You’re not. You’re not actually getting to the core root cause of fixing anything. So for parents, I would say if you’re dependent on something like that, that’s a problem. That’s not wellness, that’s not the body functioning properly. It may be time to take a step back and look at something you know. I don’t like the word alternative because my big goal in life is to make this type of medicine the first line of defense when the body’s just functioning, that if I could wave a magic wand and everybody’s mindset changes, definitely. How do we get the body functioning at its most optimal is my wish and dream and perhaps legacy, right? If I can. But if you’re not getting anywhere and their solution is give them a capsule, Amir lacks every night they’re going to poop. We have because it’s being forced, that’s not health and wellness, we need to take a step back, I would say find somebody who’s going to run a stool sample is a really good first step. And I love the stool sample we use as a GI map is what it’s called because it gives us levels of good bacteria because it may not always be a bad infection and maybe that you have low probiotics, and then we can find out exactly which probiotic strain need to be re-implemented. It also tells us fungus, bacteria, worms, viruses, Candida that could be parasites that could be in there. Also, working with somebody who’s just had experience with this because there is a thousand million trillion, you know, parasites out there that we don’t even have names for. So we certainly aren’t testing every single bug that could be in the gut lining, nor do we know every single good bacteria strain that could be in your gut lining. So a lot of it is clinical experience, medical intuition. I’ll put somebody through a parasite cleanse even if the stool test comes back clear. But they have all the symptoms. And I just, you know, know from clinical experience that it’s probably parasites, so it may be time for alternatives. Again, I don’t love that word because I want it to be the first line of defense mainstream, but it might be time to have to take a look and find somebody who’s going to look at it through a different microscope versus here’s a symptom. Here’s the drug or the over-the-counter that matches it. Go versus here’s a symptom. Why are they not pooping? What’s going on in that gut lining is a diet. Is it stress? Is it leaky gut? Is it cibo, which is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth where you’ve got too much of a bad bacteria growing where it shouldn’t be and then address it from there? Work backwards from there? And again, I’m a big proponent of the trust and the relationship you have with your doctor. And if they’re just, you know, throwing something at it and not really digging into the core root cause. It may be time to to for lack of a better word, doctor shop and find some, he’s going to listen.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Yeah, I’m with you. We run the dry mouth as well. And I think that that is like, I’ve found so many things that are just like, Whoa. And I think what’s fascinating about that is it’s like most of these people have had problems. You know, people, children, whomever have had problems for years. And it’s been, I think my other kind of pet peeve in practice is that, oh, let’s just throw supplements at it. Let’s just throw supplements at it. And a lot of poor people have been taking supplements for years for their gut problems. And it’s like, what’s really going on? Like, I’m still having problems after seven years of doing supplements. I think it also goes the other way of like, you know, too much supplementation and too much just fixing the symptoms basically on either either end.

Dr. Tenesha Wards: Yeah, taking high doses of magnesium just to poop is really not much different than taking mere lacks, right? We’re still not fixing it. Sometimes it’s needed because again, if you let that stuff from it and rot in there for a few days, it’s going to cause other damage and inflammation. Sometimes it’s needed as we figure out and fix what’s what’s the what the problem is. But I think it really comes down to finding the right practitioner that’s going to, you know, walk hand-in-hand with you and dig in and. I mean, quite frankly, do their job and figure out what’s actually wrong. I also remind patients is whether your insurance company is paying them or you’re paying out of pocket, they work for you. And if you’re not getting the results and they’re not digging in and they’re not trying to figure out why, they’re not a good fit.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So anything else we should add about the guides and constipation?

Dr. Tenesha Wards: You know, I think I think another big myth is sleep and hydration. I kind of mentioned those three things also matter for gut. And we don’t just drink water. Water isn’t probably my go to for hydration. And that that sounds controversial, right? Water is more about flushing. It does hydrate sound, but it more flushes minerals. We are so deficient in minerals in this country because of our lack of food supply, right? We’re not all eating organic. The soil isn’t as mineral rich and dense. So oftentimes for for constipation, I start by putting somebody on like a liquid mineral. The one I like a lot is minerals from Zell court, and I’ll just have them add that to their water. It’s a little bit of a taste, but it’s not horrible. So hydration, but also with hydration minerals or the quicker, cheaper way is putting a tiny pinch of sea salt mineral salt, not table white salt, but like Celtic salt sea salt into your water. Because the minerals help carry the water into the cell wall, and that’s where the cells get hydrated. And again, our food supply. And if you’re eating out of a package, you’re sure is not absorbing a lot of those minerals that were added. We need minerals that are naturally in your food and then sleep. Sleep is where the body rebuilds. Rejuvenate the cells rebuild. I say if you’re not getting six hours of uninterrupted sleep. Yourselves aren’t you’re not healing yourselves, don’t have that time to rebuild, so your gut lining may never heal if you don’t rest and rest and digest. Give it time to heal.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Absolutely. Well, this has been awesome. Thank you so much for coming on. Where can people find you if they want to get in touch with you?

Dr. Tenesha Wards: Yeah. So my personal handle is Dr. Tanisha DRP and FHA, and our clinic is Infinity Wellness. ATX ATX is short for Austin, Texas. So Infinity Wellness, Apex and all the handles, and it’ll take you to our website and all of our blogs and our podcasts and all the information.

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Well, thank you so much for being here.

Dr. Tenesha Wards: Thanks for allowing me to spread the word.

Outro: Thank you for listening to the Gut Health Reset Podcast. Please make sure you subscribe, leave a rating and a review. More people can hear about the podcast and hey, take a screenshot of this episode and tagged Dr. Anne Marie on Instagram or Facebook at Dr. Ann-Marie Barter. And for more resources, just visit


Please follow and like us: