Constipation – Is it so bad?
If your bowels only move every few days, does it really matter? Well yes it does. Think of your bowel movements as the body’s way of getting rid of waste products and toxins that are not wanted and not good for you. If waste products spend too long in the body, they are reabsorbed which can cause you all sorts of digestive problems including bloating, indigestion and heartburn as well as leaving you feeling lethargic, drowsy and fatigued.
To ensure bowels move regularly it is important that you take in plenty fluids, get plenty of fibre in the diet and take some exercise.
Try to drink at least 1.5 litres of water a day, plain or with natural flavours. Herbal teas are just as nice cold as hot. Caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating so should be greatly reduced if you have constipation.
Increase fibre in your diet. The soluble fibre in many fruits and vegetables, oats, lentils and flaxseeds attracts water and adds soft bulk to stools. Insoluble fibre in seeds and skins of fruit and vegetables and whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat helps increase movement along the bowel.
Exercise can improve transit time, a good walk every day can have a big impact.
Stress can impact on bowel movements slowing down transit time, so find ways of relaxing and reducing stress levels.
Good habits to ward off constipation also include drinking some lemon juice in warm water first thing in the morning to stimulate bowel movements from the off.
Take time to eat, chew your food properly and eat smaller more frequent meals and take time to empty your bowels.
It is also worth getting a nutrition professional to assess your lifestyle, health history and dietary changes to see if you have any other issues that may be part of the cause of constipation for example food intolerances, medications, low thyroid, IBS, liver problems etc.
Get rid of constipation and you will feel so much better.
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About Heather Lickley
Heather Lickley is a qualified nutritional therapist working in Edinburgh.