Here at Just For Tummies we get many enquiries from people who are getting constipated and they don’t know why. The causes of constipation can be many and varied, but some of the most common causes are:
1. Lack of sufficient fluids
2. Lack of fibre in the diet
3. Not enough exercise
It’s quite easy to ascertain if you have enough fluids and fibre in your diet. Just look in the toilet bowl when you’ve evacuated your bowel (incidentally, you should be doing this at least once a week). If you don’t, how will you know if there are any changes in your poo, or if blood is present?
A healthy poo should be a medium brown colour, have the consistency of cottage cheese – not too soft and not too firm, and you should be able to see the roughage and fibre in it. Poo that has smooth, shiny surfaces means there is insufficient fibre in the diet. If it has cracks in it, that indicates a lack of fluids. If you see hard, shiny, smooth pieces of poo in the toilet, increase your fluid and fibre intake.
If you go walking in the countryside, you will often see the poo of cows, sheep and horses. Their diet is high in fibre and if you look closely, you will see pieces of hay and straw sticking out of it. You will see that their poo is not hard, with smooth shiny surfaces. It’s lovely and mushy, and full of roughage. Take a leaf out of their book, and eat more fibre!
We need to be aiming for around 25g of fibre daily. The average in the UK is around 14g. Good sources of fibre can be found in any bran cereal; porridge with nuts, seeds and berries; beans, pulses and legumes in dishes such as chilli con carne or a three bean casserole; wholegrains like wholewheat or seeded breads, wholewheat pasta; baked potatoes including their skins; delicious fresh figs, and lots of vegetables; a little fruit, just two portions each day.
If you struggle to eat fruits and vegetables, then look to take a fibre supplement like our Just For Tummies Fibre tablets. Each tablet contains 440mg of fibre from sugar beet root. Just take two tablets with a glass of water half an hour before a meal.
Exercise also plays a key role in keeping things moving smoothly along the bowel, and preventing constipation. It’s important to do some level of cardiovascular exercise for at least 20 minutes each day – this can just be a brisk walk. This will help stimulate your bowel and improve transit time.
Stress can be a killer, causing disruption to regular bowel movements. You will probably find that the more stressed you feel, the more constipated you get. Practise meditation, yoga and mindfulness to bring balance to your body and your mind. Find what makes you happy and follow it passionately! Listen to some of your favourite music, watch one of your favourite films, anything that switches off those stress hormones, to allow you to relax, and in doing so, allow the bowel to relax, and empty.