Constipation is experienced by most of us in our lifetimes.
Officially, constipation is defined as opening the bowels less than 3 times a week, but I would argue that actually, for some people, going to the toilet every other day or even daily at times could still be constipation depending on their other symptoms.
If you are wondering if you have constipation then click here for the symptoms.
This article is designed to show you the 3 step approach to improving your bowels.
Gone are the days where we talk about soluble and insoluble fibre – rather, fibre is actually more varied than these two limiting terms. I feel that having to understand all the different types of fibre is mostly unnecessary and not needed by the average person. Instead, just aim to get a variety of sources in your diet and lots of it.
Fibre works to soften and bulk up your stools so that your body can push it through your bowels and out quite easily. Fibre has the added benefit of bringing bulk to your food – to keep you full and has been linked to reducing cholesterol.
At present, it is recommended that we have 30g of fibre/day and I can guarantee you that the average person does not hit this. You really need to have some effort there. Again counting out fibre is a bit complicated and not really needed other than perhaps for your own interest sake.
What I suggest you do is the following;
- Have a high fibre carbohydrate at every meal (3 meals/day) e.g. oats for breakfast, brown rice for lunch and sweet potato for dinner.
- Aim for 2 different types of fruit/day – 80g each.
- Have 2-3 different types of vegetables with your lunch and evening meals (80 = 1 portion again).
- If you are still having some issues after these points then try flaxseed in your diet – start off with 1/2 tablespoon and increase slowly to 2tbs.
The amount of people that come to me with constipation but only drink around 500mls of fluid a day is unbelievable. Your bowels need fluid to function and if you don’t give them enough, things simply dry up.
Oh, and if you increase your fibre and not your fluid then you may find yourself in an even worse state than before as some fibre works by absorbing fluid. If you are dry, this will make things 10 times worse.
The amount of fluid we need is highly individual and there are many recommendations out there depending on age, weight and activity levels. Check your urine to ensure that it is only just a little coloured.
Let gravity do its work. Sitting at a desk all day is an assured way to get your bowels to become sluggish.
Instead, get a fitness tracker/ spend 1/2 your lunch break walking/ go to the gym/ walk to work etc etc etc.
Remember: the key is consistency – these things need to happen 7 days a week.
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