Constipated? Here’s what to do…

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Constipation is one of the most common bowel-related conditions and so many people just put up with not passing a stool every day. They think that it’s ‘normal for them’ or they rely on laxatives to keep them regular. By not having a bowel motion every day, you’re not only making yourself more toxic as you’re not excreting waste products, chemicals and hormones – you’re potentially putting yourself at risk of developing haemorrhoids, faecal impaction (when hardened stools accumulate and get stuck in the bowel), a rectal prolapse (where part of the bowel protrudes out of the anus) and even developing colorectal cancer.*

What Causes Constipation? 

There are so many causes of constipation and it will vary from person to person. Some of main causes include:

  • Poor dietary habits: a diet high in refined carbohydrates and low in fibre.
  • Dehydration and poor water intake.
  • Food intolerances such as dairy and wheat.
  • An overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut.
  • Sedentary lifestyle and no exercise.
  • Emotional stress or change in routine.
  • Some medications.
  • Certain conditions such as underactive thyroid, IBS and diabetes.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Poor pelvic muscle tone.

Foods that Cause Constipation 

  • Dairy products as they increase mucous production in the gut which can interfere with digestive function.
  • Refined carbohydrates – anything made out of white flour! So this includes breads, pasta, cakes, biscuits etc. If you add water to flour what does it do… makes a glue-like substance. And this is exactly what it does in your intestines – literally blocks you up!
  • Eggs can have a constipating effect in some people.
  • Red meat and fatty fried foods – these types of food put an extra strain on your digestive system and take longer to digest.
  • Unripe bananas - their starch content make them harder to digest.
  • Caffeine – if a person is dehydrated, caffeine can make them constipated. It does however have the opposite effect in others.

How to Relieve Constipation

  • Increase your fluid intake – drink at least 2-3 litres of water per day.
  • Drink some lemon juice in warm water first thing in the morning to get the bowels moving.
  • Do some regular exercise as it assists in moving wastes through the bowels.
  • Have a toilet routine and do the same routine each day – sometimes, you just need to re-train your brain to know it’s toilet time!
  • NEVER hold on to your poos – if you keep resisting the urge, you could be setting yourself up for long-term complications.

Foods to Help Constipation

  • Good sources of fibre – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
  • Avocados.
  • Beans and Legumes especially red lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans.
  • Wholegrain rice, millet and oats.
  • Soaked prunes and dates.
  • Stewed apples and pears with the skin on.
  • Natural yoghurt as it contains beneficial bacteria that can improve gut function.

 

If you have any tips for helping constipation, please share them in the comments below!

 

* American College of Gastroenterology (ACG). (2012, October 22). Chronic constipation linked to increased risk of colorectal cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/201 2/10/121022081228.htm.

 

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Michelle is a qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist, Reflexologist and Reiki practitioner who is passionate about living a holistic lifestyle and helping others to achieve their health goals. She is also a Jungle Body Dance Fitness Instructor, which not only keeps her fit but also helps her to inspire others to feel confident and get in shape.

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