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CONSTIPATION NATION

By Monica van de Weerd

Constipation Nation

Today we are venturing in to talk about the “C” word.

Have you ever had issues going to the bathroom? What’s stopping you? Something in your nether regions that’s plain stuck? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Did you know that 14% of people get constipated at some stage [1] and everybody’s severity differs. In some people, constipation is chronic while others experience it at different times and levels of severity.

Whatever your experience, natural, food-based health strategies are well worth looking into. We urge, though, if you have concerns about the acuteness and duration of constipation you should visit a healthcare professional to have it looked into.

Constipation has many causes but in a nutshell, it can be defined as food moving too slowly through your digestive system. In some cases, this slow-moving food can get stuck in your colon. It’s important for your health to find ways to gently and effectively unclog the system of backed-up food. In an ironic twist of fate, it’s food that is the solution (it usually is when it comes to our health). Sure, there’s constipation medication but here at Supercharged Food HQ we always start with food first, because it’s the  natural way to approach things.

There are certain foods and health strategies that will help make constipation less, ahem, constant.

Backed-up, build-up

Fibre first

When it comes to stopping the stoppages dietary fibre from natural sources is one way to go. There are many definitions of dietary fibre so we always like to reference the non-commercial experts.

According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand [2]: “Dietary fibre means that fraction of the edible parts of plants or their extracts, or synthetic analogues, that are resistant to the digestion and absorption in the small intestine, usually with complete or partial fermentation in the large intestine. Dietary fibre includes polysaccharides, oligosaccharides (degree of polymerisation >2) and lignins, and promotes one or more of the following beneficial physiological effects:

  1. laxation
  2. reduction in blood cholesterol
  3. modulation of blood glucose.”

The recommended daily intake (RDI) for dietary fibre is Women: 25grams and Men 30g. [3] Many of us are not getting enough fibre in our diets. So, let’s look at easy ways to increase your fibre consumption, to get you back on track.

Classic fibre foods

Prunes (dried plums) are the almost cliché constipation go-to. They do work though! Prunes have nearly 3 grams of fibre per 1/4-cup (40-gram) serving. Aside from eating prunes on their own, try them in salads, cereals, oatmeal (porridge) and smoothies.

Psyllium husk (organic) is another classic for constipation. It’s an edible soluble fibre and prebiotic and easy to use mixed in water, juice or smoothies. Hint: stir in a spoonful of psyllium husk in your daily Love Your Gut powder or with capsules. They work very well together. So does adding Love Your Gut FHC drops to a psyllium husk drink. Love Your Gut FHC drops are also helpful when it comes to leaky gut.  

Many fruits are good sources of fibre. Citrus fruits, pears, figs and kiwifruits offer a delicious and varied source of fibre for the whole family. lso look for brightly coloured fruits for a good source of phytonutrients and antioxidants.

A Green Light for Constipation

Greens like spinach, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, help add bulk and weight to stools, which makes them easier to pass through your digestive system.

Top Seeds

Chia seeds are one of the most fibre-dense foods available. Just 28 grams (1 ounce) of chia seeds has 9.8 grams of fibre, meeting over a third of your daily needs.

Flaxseeds are not copping any flack for their fibre levels! They’re rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre, making them an ideal digestive food.

Seeds are perfect additions to smoothies and smoothie bowls.

You can also try the Banana flour pancakes which are a good source of fibre and resistant starch. You can read more about the effects of resistant starch on the gut here.

Get moving to get moving

“The more you move the more your gut moves so exercise helps as well.”

Bryan Curtin, M.D., M.H.Sc, Director of Neurogastroenterology and Motility

In short, the more we’re in motion, the more motion we have. Conversely, a lack of movement, even for a day or two, can cause constipation.

Water’s the way to go.

Dehydration can be a major cause of constipation. We really must keep hydrated from first thing in the morning (after several hours of no hydration) and throughout the day.

Try warm water. It promotes healthy, normal contractions of the gastrointestinal tract that keeps things moving smoothly.

Get the massage!

Relieving the feelings of constipation, stuckness and bloating can take an all-hands-on-deck approach. Lee Holmes from Supercharged Food, produced this simple, short gut massage tutorial.

Lee says “I love this gut massage. The clockwise movement of the massage imitates the motion of your digestive system. It not only helps to get things unstuck but I also find it soothing and relaxing. It can be done anytime, anyplace. I find myself giving my gut a little love with this technique a few times a day. Especially straight after eating”

Try this simple but effective gut massage to get things moving.

Teas

The Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) plant is a significant part of traditional Māori medicine. A cup or two of this tea, while not specifically for constipation, works wonders to get things moving downstairs.

Coffee and tea drinkers will attest to their effectiveness in ‘getting things going’. According to Dr. Uma Naidoo, MD, nutritional psychiatrist, “Coffee and black tea….stimulate the colon to contract while also acting as diuretics which draw water out of the body, promoting the movement of your gut in this way as well,”

There are also diet teas widely available. From all reports they work but we’ve found them to be a bit harsh and dehydrating on the system. We prefer using more gentle, long-term approaches to constipation.

Diatomaceous earth - The Internal Plumber

Love Your Gut powder and capsules are 100% food-grade diatomaceous earth (or Fossil Shell Flour). It’s a mineral straight from the earth.

Microscopically, the powder is hard and conical-shaped, so it can help ‘brush’ away the build-up of waste and plaque from your gut lining. We liken it to a plumber flushing your pipes. If you don’t clean your pipes overtime, waste can build up on its walls. It’s the same with your gut. If you don’t clean it plaque, mucous and waste bacteria forms. Diatomaceous earth (only food-grade like Love Your Gut), and natural fibre-rich foods help to gently flush and clean your digestive system.

The bottom line on constipation

Constipation doesn’t have to be a constant in your life. Eating healthier, selecting more fibre-rich foods, drinking plenty of H2O and giving it time should work in most cases. If it is chronic and you’re concerned about your constipation, please see your healthcare practitioner.

Look out!

Keep your eyes out for our next Supercharge Your Gut blog: “In the mood. Gut health and our feelings” . Please feel free to give us some gut topics to tackle. Email your suggestions to admin@superchargeyourgut.com

References

[1] Chronic idiopathic constipation in adults

[2] Food Standards Australia New Zealand ‘dietary fibre’

[3] Recommended daily intake - fibre

Source: Lee Holmes Supercharged Food

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