Category Archive Constipation

What to Eat if You Get Constipated

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?

1 – Eat more fibre

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.

There are two kinds of fibre: soluble and insoluble

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.

2 – Drink more fluids

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.

3 – Probiotics

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.

4 – Lifestyle

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.

Conclusion

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!

Recipe (high soluble fibre): Toasted Oats with Pears

Serves 4

Ingredients

150g oats, gluten-free

Pinch sea salt

300ml water

300ml almond milk, unsweetened

2 medium pears, sliced

4 tsp maple syrup

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Instructions

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.

References:

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/best-laxatives-constipation/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/chronic-constipation-remedies-for-relief/

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-constipation-fiber

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002136.htm

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/probiotics-may-ease-constipation-201408217377

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/6-ways-to-enjoy-fiber-in-your-diet

Foods to Prevent Constipation

Many people with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) have constipation.

You may have constipation if you have an easy bowel movement less often than once per day. If you have chronic constipation it can cause fatigue and inflammation in the body as toxins recirculate. Below I have listed foods to prevent constipation and lifestyle tips that you can do to make you more regular.

 

Causes of Constipation

  • Diet high in refined foods and low in fibre
  • Over-eating
  • Low water intake
  • Lack of exercise
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Poor liver function
  • Lack of magnesium in the diet

Foods to Avoid

  • Avoid all animal products especially red meats which have a long transit time through the bowel. Only eat these foods in moderation.
  • Cut back on dairy foods which are mucus forming and add to the plaque in the intestines. Instead have organic rice, almond, oat or goat’s milk.
  • Also cut down on full fat cheeses and don’t eat melted cheese over food as it sets like plastic in the bowel.
  • Avoid refined sugars found in cakes, biscuits, desserts and highly processed foods which ferment in the gut causing gas and bloating as healthy bacteria are destroyed. If these healthy bacteria are missing, your digestion and elimination are impaired.
  • When you mix flour and water it makes a gooey paste, it does the same in the bowel, therefore cut down on pastries and flour-based foods.
  • Also avoid foods which you have an intolerance to, for example cow’s milk. Many people do not have the enzyme needed to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. This can lead to putrefaction in the bowel.

Foods to Eat

  • Flaxseeds (linseeds) are a blend of insoluble and soluble fibres which bulk up the stool encouraging it to move gently through the bowel. Ground flaxseed and use 1 tablespoon on your porridge or in a fruit smoothie every day. Store it in a glass jar in the fridge.
  • Other high fibre foods are fresh and dried figs, blackcurrants, apricots, prunes, almonds, fresh coconut and all mixed nuts. Try eating 8 prunes per day with breakfast for an easier bowel movement.
  • Eat more lightly cooked or raw vegetables and salads to add more fibre to your diet.
  • Drink at least 2 litres of water daily.
  • Replace one meal a day with a fruit smoothie whilst eliminating all flour from any source for at least 2 days. Blend 1 banana, 1 organic apple, 30g blueberries, 1 teaspoon of green powder, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds (linseeds) with 500ml almond milk. It’s delicious and packed with fibre.
  • Additionally eat more magnesium rich foods including green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate, which relax the colon muscles and encourage a bowel movement.

Why does constipation cause fatigue?

  • If you have constipation, you have toxins recirculating in your system. This can lead to inflammation and fatigue.
  • Also being constipated can put a strain on your liver to constantly try to process and detox the recirculating toxins, leading to chronic fatigue.
  • It can cause bloating and tummy pain leading to discomfort and disturbed sleep, which can lead to fatigue.

 

Furthermore if you would like to find out more about foods to prevent constipation, contact Kate on 07562 868342 for a free 15 minute consultation!

Copyright: tashka2000 / 123RF Stock Photo