There are many causes of constipation, but most cases can be helped by diet and lifestyle changes with the aim of getting you going, naturally.
If you suffer regular constipation, it is important to take action to avoid chronic constipation that can be very uncomfortable – and even life-threatening.
Common constipation causes
Constipation often has an underlying cause – these are the most common:
- Highly refined foods such as pies, cakes, biscuits and ready-meals
- A diet low in fibre
- Insufficient fluid intake
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Certain drugs can slow down the bowel
- Ignoring the urge ‘to go’
- Eat a diet rich in nutrients and high in soluble and insoluble fibre.
- Include lots of green leafy vegetables in your diet: broccoli, kale, sprouts, cabbage, green beans.
- Choose healthy carbohydrates, such as sweet potato, wholegrain rice, wholegrain pasta, quinoa and buckwheat.
- Eat plenty of fruit, such as apples, pears, pineapple, grapefruit and berries.
- Incorporate legumes into your diet: lentils, beans and peas.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 and omega-9: nuts, seeds, and unhydrogenated seed oils such as linseed and olive oil.
- Consume only small quantities (a fist full) of good quality protein with each meal, such as oily fish (salmon, mackerel and tuna), or chicken or turkey. Enjoy occasional lean cuts of red meat.
- Drink eight glasses of filtered water or herbal drinks every day.
- Include natural homemade and organic forms of yoghurt that contain an abundance of probiotics.
- Eat plenty of prebiotic and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, coconut kefir, coconut yogurt, artichokes, asparagus and pineapple.
Supplements to encourage natural movement
- If you have constipation for more than three days and feel full and uncomfortable, you may need to add extra fibre to your diet in a more concentrated form. My Fibre tablets will help to relieve the immediate compacted stool – drink at least a pint of water at the same time otherwise you may feel very full and bloated.
- A course of my high-strength multi-strain Live Bacteria (probiotics) may help to reset the bowel back to its normal pattern of movement.
- The bowel needs lubrication – try my super-high-strength Omega 3 capsules or a tablespoon of olive oil daily to smooth the transit of food through the bowel.
- A hot drink often helps to relax you and encourage movement in your bowel. Try drinking my soothing Tummy Tea, blended with the herbs and spices that I use every day in my clinic, to calm and relax. It’s naturally caffeine-free so you can drink as much as you like – the extra fluids will also help you to stay regular.
Lifestyle tips to conquer constipation
You may need to implement lifestyle changes in order to get things moving – try these ideas:
- Take up to 4 tablespoons of golden linseeds daily, either on cereals, in yogurt, in a glass of water or in a glass of apple juice. Linseeds are a natural, mild laxative.
- Take apple cider vinegar before meals – add a teaspoon to a small amount of water, then swish and swallow.
- Consider using glycerine suppositories particularly if you can feel the weight of the stool in your rectum area but are unable to push it out. All pharmacies sell glycerine suppositories – they gently stimulate the bowel and are safe and easy to use.
- Stewed apples and cinnamon can help to relieve constipation and allow the bowel to settle.
- Never delay the urge to go the loo! When sitting on the toilet, your feet need to be at least 15cm off the floor, placed on a step or stool. This will allow the rectum to relax, making evacuation easier.
- Train your bowel to be regular by sitting on the loo at the same time of day, every day, if you can. Try not to vary your routine.
- Exercise for at least twenty minutes a day – a brisk walk can work wonders!
- Try not to use laxatives too frequently, but if you have tried everything else and nothing relieves the constipation, then take the laxatives.