Constipation is the opposite of diarrhoea – it’s when your stool tends to stick around longer than necessary. Often it’s drier, lumpier, and harder than normal, and may be difficult to pass.
Constipation often comes along with abdominal pain and bloating. And can be common in people with certain gut issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It’s also very common in people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME).
About 14-24% of adults experience constipation. Constipation becomes chronic when it happens at least three times per week for three months.
If you have chronic constipation it can cause fatigue and inflammation in the body as toxins recirculate.
Constipation can be caused by diet or stress, and even changes to our daily routine. Sometimes the culprit is a medical condition or medications. And sometimes there can be a structural problem with the gut. Many times the cause is unknown.
Whether you know why or not, there are some things you can do if you get constipated.
So what to eat if you get constipated?
You’ve probably heard to eat more prunes (and figs and dates) if you get constipated.
Why is that?
It comes down to fibre.
Dietary fibre is a type of plant-based carbohydrate that we can’t digest and absorb. Unlike cows, humans don’t have the digestive enzymes to break it down. And that’s a good thing!
Even though we can’t digest it ourselves, fibre is very important for our gut health for two reasons.
First, fibre helps to push things through our system (and out the other end).
Second, fibre is an important food for feeding the friendly microbes in our gut.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water to make a gel-like consistency. It can soften and bulk up the stool; this is the kind of fibre that you want to focus on for helping with constipation. Soluble fibre is found in legumes (beans, peas, lentils), fruit (apples, bananas, berries, citrus, pears, etc.), vegetables (broccoli, carrots, spinach, etc.), and grains like oats.
Psyllium is a soluble non-fermenting fibre from corn husks. It’s been shown to help soften stools and produce a laxative effect.
Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, holds onto water and can help to push things through the gut and get things moving. It’s the kind found in the skins and seeds of fruits and vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, celery, zucchini, as well as the skins of apples, pears, and potatoes.
It’s recommended that adults consume between 20-35 grams of fibre per day.
If you are going to increase your fibre intake, make sure to do it gradually. Radically changing your diet can make things worse!
And, it’s also very important to combine increased fibre intake with my next point to drink more fluids.
NOTE: There is conflicting evidence on how fibre affects constipation. In some cases, less insoluble fibre may be better, especially if you have certain digestive issues. So, make sure you’re monitoring how your diet affects your gut health and act accordingly. And don’t be afraid to see your healthcare provider when necessary.
Since your stools are hard and dry when you’re constipated, drinking more fluids can help keep everything hydrated and moist. This is especially true when trying to maintain a healthy gut every day, rather than when trying to deal with the problem of constipation after it has started.
And it doesn’t only have to be water – watery foods like soups, and some fruits and vegetables can also contribute to your fluid intake.
Always ensure you’re well hydrated, and drinking according to thirst; this is recommended for gut health as well as overall health.
Probiotics are beneficial microbes that come in fermented foods and supplements. They have a number of effects on gut health and constipation. They affect gut transit time (how fast food goes through us), increase the number of bowel movements per week, and help to soften stools to make them easier to pass.
Probiotic foods (and drinks) include fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut and kimchi), miso, kefir, and kombucha.
More research is needed when it comes to recommending a specific probiotic supplement or strain. If you’re going to take supplements, make sure to read the label to ensure that it’s safe for you. And take it as directed.
If you would like to learn more about how to improve your bowel movements and general digestive health, contact Kate on 07562 868342 for a free 15 minute discovery call.
Some studies show that the gut benefits from regular exercise.
Ideally, aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes most days.
In terms of stress, when we’re stressed, it often affects our digestive system. The connection between our gut and our brain is so strong, researchers have coined the term “gut-brain axis.”
By better managing stress, we can help to reduce emotional and physical issues (like gut issues) that may result from stress. Try things like meditation, deep breathing, and exercise.
And last but not least – make sure to go when you need to go! Don’t hold it in because that can make things worse.
Optimal digestion is so important for overall health. Constipation is a common problem.
Increasing our fibre and water intake and boosting our friendly gut microbes are key things we can do to help things move along.
And don’t forget how lifestyle habits can affect our physical health! Exercise, stress management, and going to the bathroom regularly can also help us maintain great gut health.
Have you found that fibre, water, or probiotics affect your gut health? What about exercise, stress, and regular bathroom trips? I’d love to know in the comments below!
150g oats, gluten-free
Pinch sea salt
300ml almond milk, unsweetened
2 medium pears, sliced
4 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Toast oats by placing them in a large saucepan over medium-high heat for 2-4 minutes. Make sure to stir them frequently to prevent burning. Add salt, water, and almond milk to the saucepan of toasted oats. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes, or until desired tenderness is reached. Divide into four bowls and top with pears, walnuts, maple syrup, and cinnamon.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: If you want to roast your pears first, place them in a baking dish at 200C for about 10 minutes while you’re cooking the oats.
Antioxidants are just that: they fight (anti) oxidation.
The chemical process of oxidation is like rusting metal. A molecule loses electrons and creates the infamous free radicals. Oxidation is also the reason why apples, bananas, and avocados go brown when the skin is broken, and they’re exposed to air – they’re getting oxidised.
Free radicals in the body cause inflammation and can contribute to diseases like cancers, diabetes, and heart disease (to name a few). So, the antidote to oxidation is the antioxidant. Vitamins like vitamins A, C, and E are examples of antioxidants. So are other compounds in foods like carotenoids and phenols. These compounds sacrifice their electrons to stop the oxidation process; this why squirting some lemon juice on your sliced apples, bananas and avocados slows down the browning process.
But don’t think that all oxidation in the body is bad. It’s not. Your body naturally oxidizes compounds all the time when it’s doing healthy things like metabolizing nutrients or exercising.
As with many things in life and health, the key is maintaining a good balance. In this case, as the balance between oxidation and antioxidation.
We can throw off that balance with exposure to too much alcohol, smoking, or environmental pollutants. Even over-exercising or too much sun exposure can create too much oxidation.
The best sources of antioxidants to combat this effect are nutritious whole foods, like colourful fresh produce, e.g., blueberries, purple cabbage, etc. In fact, the more colourful and darker the plant is, the higher levels of antioxidants it usually has. Chemicals that give the plants their deep colours are often the antioxidants themselves.
Let me list out a bunch of antioxidants and the foods they’re found in:
Blueberries are probably one of the most studied antioxidant foods. They contain a range of phytochemical (i.e., plant chemical) compounds and are very high in anthocyanins (the blue-coloured compound).
Furthermore the antioxidant capacity can be measured in a laboratory; this is called the “oxygen radical absorption capacity,” or “ORAC.” And blueberries have one of the highest ORAC levels.
If you’re ready to learn more about how antioxidants can reduce your symptoms of fatigue, contact Kate for a free 15 minute call.
While antioxidant supplements have been tested, their results haven’t been as good as many hoped. Compared with eating a nutrient-dense antioxidant-rich colourful array of plants, antioxidants supplements have fallen short.
Many studies of antioxidant supplements haven’t shown any benefit against heart disease, cancer, or other diseases. And these are diseases that are known to be reduced in people who eat a lot of foods that are naturally full of antioxidants.
In fact, too much of any individual antioxidant, like when overdoing supplements, can be harmful. Too much vitamin A is linked to increased risk of hip fractures and prostate cancer. Too much beta-carotene increases the risk of lung cancer in smokers. In addition, too much vitamin E increases the risk of prostate cancer, lung infections, heart failure, and even death.
One of the reasons why we think that antioxidant foods work oh-so-much better than antioxidant supplements is because of synergy. The concept of synergy means that by taking one component out of healthful food (i.e., the antioxidant), it loses the effect it has when combined with all the other healthy components it came with from nature. This is the difference between eating a whole orange and taking a vitamin C supplement. The orange is going to have more than just vitamin C, and many of those compounds will work together for overall health better than just isolating one and having higher-than-normal doses of it.
Overall there are antioxidant vitamins (A, C & E) and other antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols. They’re highest in colourful fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some meats, tea, coffee, and cocoa.
Also you can’t replace a diet full of nutrient-dense antioxidant-rich whole foods with supplements. So stick with the foods.
Which antioxidant-rich foods and drinks are your favourites? Let me know in the comments below.
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
A pinch of cinnamon
Handful baby spinach leaves
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Use any greens you have on hand in place of the spinach, if you wish.
If you would like more information on how antioxidants can reduce your symptoms of fatigue, contact Kate for a free 15 minute call.
Many people who have CFS or adrenal fatigue crave coffee. This could be because you are struggling to have enough energy to keep going every day and get everything done.
Coffee is one of those things – you either love it or hate it. You know if you like the taste or not (or if it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream). You know how it makes you feel (i.e. your gut, your mind, etc.).
Not to mention the crazy headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!
There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It’s a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you’re used to drinking.
NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Drinking coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants such as polyphenols, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some.
Let’s look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.
Not all people metabolise caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolise caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.
About half of us are “slow” metabolisers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel “wired” for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is “fast” metabolisers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.
This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much – because we’re all different!
NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.
The effects of drinking coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.
Here’s a list of the effects of drinking coffee (that usually decrease with long-term use):
Stimulates the brain
Boosts energy and exercise performance
Increases your stress hormone cortisol
So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.
There are a ton of studies on the health effects of drinking coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.
Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:
Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)
Increased sleep disruption
Lower risk of Alzheimer‘s and Parkinson’s
Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
A lower risk of certain liver diseases
Lower risk of death (“all cause mortality”)
Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease
Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).
NOTE: What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.
There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.
Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:
People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
Those who often feel anxious
People who have trouble sleeping
Women who are pregnant
If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:
Give you the jitters?
Increase anxious feelings?
Affect your sleep?
Give you heart palpitations?
Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?
Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?
In conclusion, depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a while and see the difference.
3 tbsp coconut milk
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin puree
½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 cup coffee (decaf if preferred)
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can use tea instead of milk if you prefer.
Finally for more information of the health effects of drinking coffee and how addiction may be driving your adrenal fatigue, contact Kate to book an appointment today.
With the stressful pace of modern living in the West, the adrenal glands can struggle to keep up! Your adrenal glands secrete adrenaline and other stress hormones to help you to cope with stress. When you are feeling exhausted, your adrenals give you the energy to keep going!
With constant stress, your adrenals are continuously being stimulated until they crash. This is when you can experience adrenal fatigue.
People with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) often have adrenal fatigue leaving them bed bound.
So how can you use nutrition for supporting the adrenal glands?
For more information on using nutrition for supporting your adrenal glands, contact Kate for a free 15 minute phone chat.
Which diet is better for CFS recovery? Is a vegetarian or stone-age diet better when recovering from CFS? There are so many diets out there, how do you know which one is right for you?
Everybody is unique and no one diet fits all. Some people have food intolerances or allergies to certain foods.
When I was recovering from my CFS, I was eating meats such as lamb, pork and also fish such as rainbow trout or seabass 2-3x per week. I was also eating carbs such as gluten-free bread, wild rice, gluten-free pasta and dried apricots. I ate plenty of broccoli, peas and carrots. So I was on a moderate protein, moderate carbohydrate, low refined sugar diet.
When I visited a Nutritionist, she detected that I had intolerances to beef, sugar, yeast and cow’s milk. So being an all-or-nothing kind of person, I immediately cut out these foods. Within a few weeks I felt a lot better. After 5 months of following her nutrition and supplement plan I had my energy back. Basically she put me on an anti-candida diet as my body was overrun with Candida and my immune system was weak.
A stone-age diet is high in meat and animal protein, low in carbohydrates and high in fat. Dr Myhill recommends a stone-age/paleo diet for people with CFS, as meat is rich in amino acids and protein which boost the immune system and heal tissue damage in the body. People with blood type O do better on a stone-age diet as they have high levels of stomach acid and can easily digest meat.
A vegetarian diet done correctly is full of vegetables, lentils, legumes and beans and is rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants. People with blood type A do better on a vegetarian diet, possibly with some fish. For people who have low stomach acid and find meat difficult to digest, or those on PPIs such as omeprazole or lansoprazole which block stomach acid production, may do better on a vegetarian diet. Also meat can be constipating so eliminating meat eases constipation and improves your detoxification abilities.
So which diet is better for CFS recovery? Personally I would recommend a low sugar, anti-candida diet for healing CFS. Avoiding refined sugar, sugary fruits like bananas, grapes and dried fruits, also avoiding yeast found in bread, mushrooms, fermented foods, cheese, peanuts and cashew nuts.
Also you need to avoid your food intolerances which deplete your body’s energy. The most common food intolerances are to gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley and rolled oats) and cow’s milk.
You need to eat plenty of protein when recovering from CFS to boost your immune system and to heal tissue damage. So a Stone-age diet is very beneficial. If you are vegetarian and can’t face eating meat, I would recommend a high protein vegetarian diet eating plenty of beans, chickpeas, lentils, non-GMO tofu and eggs.
If you don’t eat oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines or herring regularly, which I didn’t when recovering from my CFS, you need to take an omega 3 supplement e.g. a fish oil or a vegan algal omega 3 supplement. I took igennus Vegepa supplement.
For more information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), contact Kate on 07562 868342 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 15 minute chat.
Do you feel tired all the time? Are you unable get up in the morning? You may have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). Below I talk more about the illness and what causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Firstly to get a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome you will undergo multiple testing. After all avenues have been ruled out then you can be diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. When you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you have a group of symptoms including:
Currently around 250,000 people suffer with the illness in the UK. Women more commonly get this chronic illness, especially between the ages of 20-45.
There are many root causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is a complex condition. It is caused by a combination of factors that over time have weakened your body. Furthermore many people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome find that a very stressful event triggered their illness. Below I have listed some of the common triggers to chronic fatigue syndrome:
However in my experience with ME/CFS patients, the main root cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a high sugar diet. This leads to a suppressed immune system, viruses and a Candida overgrowth. In my new 12 Week Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Recovery Programme we tackle the root cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with 12 week low sugar meal plans.
For more information on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), contact Kate on 07562 868342 or email@example.com for a free 15 minute chat.
Nutrition is a powerful allie when recovering from ME/CFS. A question I get asked a lot as a Nutritionist is “What should I eat?” In this article I will explain the best foods to eat for healing ME/CFS.
Firstly, let me tell you what I ate when I was ill with my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Step 1: Junk Food
When I was a university student living away from home and first became ill with ME/CFS I used to eat a diet of junk food such as:
By eating all these junk foods in excess I destroyed my health.
I now know that when you microwave meals it denatures the structure of the food so it is not the same food that went into the microwave!
Step 2: Gluten-Free in Recovery
After a positive Coeliac IgA blood test result from my Doctor in May 2009 I removed wheat from my diet and cooked things such as:
These are the foods that I was eating during my recovery from 2010-2011. then helped me to regain my health.
If you would like to find out more about diet for healing ME/CFS, contact Kate here.
When you have recurrent Candida it can be very difficult to get rid of! You may have tried multiple courses of antibiotics which work for a short time and then the Candida comes back with avengence! Below I explain how to kill recurrent Candida.
So what can you do?
Well you need to treat the root cause of the problem which is poor diet. Your diet may be high in sugary, processed foods which are feeding the Candida.
Remove refined sugar from your diet and replace it with low sugar fruits such as apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries and kiwis. When you stop feeding the Candida it will start to starve and die off. You may have sugar cravings for a few days during the die off period. Check out my post on anti-candida diet for ideas on what foods to eat to kill Candida.
You need to boost your immune system to help your body to fight off the Candida. Eat more zinc rich foods such as fish and seafood to power your immune system. Also eating foods high in vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant, protects the body during the die off period when Candida release harmful toxins. You can eat more oranges, spinach and tomatoes to get your dose of vitamin C.
Drink at least 2 litres of filtered water daily to help flush out toxins during the die off period. It also helps you to stay hydrated so your body can function more efficiently.
Eat natural anti-fungals including raw garlic, onion and coconut oil. These work gently to kill off the Candida without destroying all the good bacteria in your gut.
If you want more tips on how to kill candida, download my free guide here.
You can also contact me on 07562 868342 for your free 15 minute consultation! Or you can message me in the contact form below.
When you have leaky gut syndrome, holes appear in the gut and large molecules of food can leak into the blood stream. This can cause an immune reaction to the molecules of foods in the blood causing chronic fatigue. Below I will explain how to heal leaky gut.
People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) often have systemic candida. Candida Albicans is a yeast infection most commonly present in the gut. Candida grows roots through the gut wall reaching into the blood stream to suck up nutrients. When the candida grows roots this causes holes in the gut wall leading to leaky gut syndrome. Also when you eat difficult to digest foods such as wheat, the gluten can scratch the gut lining causing further damage.
If you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) then check out my post on tips for recovering from ME/CFS.
When you undertake this gut healing protocol, it can take 3-6 months to fully heal the gut.
One other thing to mention is that people often have a leaky energy as well as a leaky gut. The mind, body, spirit and energy are all linked so if your gut is leaky, then so are all the other areas of your life!
Where else in your life is your energy being drained? Are there energy vampires in your family or at work who drain your energy? Does your mind focus on negative things that cause you stress and drain your energy? Do you waste your money and time on pointless things that do not nourish your energy? It is worth asking yourself these questions and taking action to remove these drains from your life.
Finally if you would like more information on how to heal leaky gut in chronic fatigue and a personalised nutrition and supplement plan, contact Kate on 07562 868342 for a free 15 minute consultation!
Around 250,000 people in Britain are recognised as having M.E or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Many more are undiagnosed. I suffered with severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 3 years. It was after visiting a Nutritionist and following her plan for a few months that I began to get my energy back. After a year I was fully recovered and back working again. Below you can read my tips for recovering from ME/CFS.
Furthermore if you would like to learn more nutrition tips for recovering from ME/CFS, contact Kate on 07562 868342 for a free 15 minute consultation!