Constipation, amongst other bowel movements, can be an uncomfortable topic to talk about. But it is important to understand.
What is constipation and why does it happen?
Constipation is a problem that can occur at any age and for any sex, although it is more common in women. This blockage in your large intestines may result in abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and often a lack of appetite.
No specific causes have been identified, but there is a range of factors that can trigger constipation. These include poor hydration, insufficient fibre intake, a sedentary lifestyle, and overweight or underweight. Constipation occurs in 40% of women before their menstrual cycle and during pregnancy.
Easy Home Remedies for Constipation
Nowadays, it’s the norm to turn on Netflix or watch TV as you eat. However, it’s important to pay attention to your food during your meals and focus on chewing. The random controlled study (Hirayama et. al., 2005) showed gum-showing stimulated bowel motility after surgery1. Not only does chewing plays a vital role as the beginning of your digestive process, it also stimulates bowel movement.
Now what food should you eat? The key ingredient to preventing constipation is fibre, an element which cannot be digested or absorbed by your body. Studies (Bosaeus, 2004) show that fibre promotes bowel movement, increases stool bulk and helps maintain bowel health2. Add fibre to your diet by consuming a variety of vegetables and seasonal fruit, whole grains (brown rice, spelt, quinoa, barley, oats and buckwheat) and legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils, peas and broad beans).
Don’t forget to drink enough water. Hydration is essential in preventing and treating constipation. Aim for at least 1.5-2 litres per day, especially in hot weather.
Tip: Add a generous spoonful of flaxseed to your salad, yoghurt or cereal. Flaxseed is not only rich in fibre, but also in omega-3 fatty acids.
What foods will prevent constipation?
- Highly processed white bread, pasta and white flour
- Carbonated drinks
- Excess sugar
- Foods rich in saturated fats or additives
- Preserved foods
- Whole grain cereals and integral derivatives
- Seasonal vegetables and fruit
- Lean meat, eggs and fish
- Oilseeds, especially flax seeds
- Extra virgin olive oil
How often do you feel constipated?
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1 Hirayama, I., Suzuki, M., Ide, M., Asao, T., & Kuwano, H. (2006). Gum-chewing stimulates bowel motility after surgery for colorectal cancer. Hepato-gastroenterology, 53(68), 206-208.
2 Bosaeus, I. (2004). Fibre effects on intestinal functions (diarrhoea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome). Clinical Nutrition Supplements, 1(2), 33-38.