Feeling Stuck? Here's your guide to combat constipation
Constipation is a common condition characterised by infrequent bowel movements or difficulty passing stool. It’s caused by a number of factors, including lack of dietary fibre, inadequate hydration, sedentary lifestyle, certain medications, hormonal changes, stress, and underlying health conditions.
- difficult and painful bowel movements
- passing stool less than 3 times per week
- not feeling like you’ve completely evacuated your bowels
- stomach aches and cramps
Gut health plays a crucial role in maintaining regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. The gut, or gastrointestinal tract, is responsible for the digestion and absorption of nutrients, as well as the elimination of waste from the body. Several key factors contribute to gut health and overall, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is recommended to reduce the incidence of constipation. The following range of dietary and lifestyle choices may help relieve this particularly uncomfortable condition.
Consuming a balanced diet rich in fibre is essential for maintaining regular bowel movements. Dietary fibre adds bulk to the stool, making it softer and easier to pass. The current recommended daily amount is 30g per day, but the latest figures show that over 90% of us in the UK don’t make it past 18g.
As we believe prevention is key, include a diversity of fibre-rich foods daily. Some good sources include fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, oats, wheat bran, flaxseed, chia seeds, legumes, and nuts.
Consuming enough fluids is super important to soften the stool and prevent dehydration, which can contribute to constipation. Think of water as your best friend. This is particularly important during the summer months, where we may be losing water through sweat.
Unfortunately, stress is part of life, and cannot always be avoided, therefore it is important to know how emotional stress can affect gut health and could contribute to constipation. Stress-related constipation, maybe an unfamiliar term, but they are indeed connected, therefore, it is important to find effective stress management techniques that work for you, not everyone enjoys meditation or downward dog, so find something that you specifically enjoy doing and simple do that!
Regular exercise and physical activity promote healthy bowel movements. Physical movement stimulates the muscles (peristalsis) in the digestive tract, helping to move food through the system and prevent constipation. The type of exercise you choose is a personal choice, just ensure it’s something that you enjoy.
These are beneficial bacteria that help maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut. They can be found in a number of foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. They may help improve gut motility and overall digestive health. So if you enjoy these types of food, add some to your weekly shopping list.
It is important to note that certain medications can cause constipation. If you suspect a medication is contributing to your constipation, consult with your healthcare provider to explore alternative options or strategies if possible.
And finally, in cases of chronic or severe constipation, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. They can provide guidance based on your specific situation, which may include lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, if necessary.