Are you constipated?
Everyone moves their bowels at different speeds. Some people might open their bowels 3 times a day, while others regularly skip a day or two. In general, you should have bowels opened at least once a day. If your bowels opened once every 2 days or longer, you’re considered constipated.
The problem often happens because of a low-fibre or high-fat diet, lack of exercise, and not drinking enough fluids. Certain medications, stress, not going when you feel the urge, laxative abuse, and pregnancy may also lead to constipation.
Nutrition Tips for Gut Health
These are some simple strategies that can help you improve your diet and relieve constipation:
Fibre Helps Relieve Constipation
If your bowel movements get sluggish, the first thing you should do is to check if you are getting enough fibre in your diet. Most people with mild constipation can be easily improved when adopt a high fibre diet. Fibre acts as a broom that helps sweep out unwanted substances from your body. It also helps cleanse your bowels, stimulate peristalsis (movement) of your bowels, as well as aid in digestion.
There are three types of fibre – soluble, insoluble fibre and resistant starch, which can only be found in plant-based foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Recommended daily fibre intake is 25g for women and 30g for men. Unfortunately, most of us only get about 5-15 grams per day, which may help explain why so many people get constipated.
Bulk up on legumes
Replace meat with a bean or legume dish at least a couple of times week. Add cooked beans to salads and try bean soups and stews as main courses.
Add your veggies
Aim to have at least 2-3 cups of vegetables or more every day and forget about counting calories.
Legumes and vegetables are the best fibre sources as they consist of high fibre and low calorie and sugar, which are ideal for those who want to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and weight.
Make sure that you’re well hydrated with water. It’s recommended to drink at least 2-3 litre of water or more a day to stay hydrated. For best results, squeeze in some fresh lemon juice into your water and drink it first thing in the morning. You will soon find an urge to go to the bathroom after drinking water with fresh lemon juice.
The wonders of soluble fibre
Soluble fibre simply means that when it combines with water, it forms a gel-like substance. Chia seeds, oats, slippery elms, psyllium husks, and aloe vera are rich in soluble fibre. The gluey substance tends to sooth the gut, regulate the speed of digestion, stabilise blood sugar, and reduce blood cholesterol levels. Certain types of soluble fibres are also broken down and fermented by the beneficial bacteria in our large intestine as a food source, or prebiotic, which contributes to gut health.
Chia seeds are packed with nutrients and are considered as superfoods. Add one tablespoon into oatmeal, smoothies or water and let it expand in size before consuming.
Oats are well-known for its benefits in lowering cholesterol and prevent constipation because of the high soluble fibre content. Incorporate rolled oats into your breakfast would be a good start for the day.
Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva or Ulmus rubra) is originally sourced from the inner bark of a tree that grows primarily in the eastern region of North America. It is rich in a type of soluble fibre called mucilage. Mucilage traps and absorbs water, forming a gel-like substance. Slippery elm has a long history as a first aid and home remedy especially for gut inflammation and constipation.
Mix 1 tablespoon slippery elm powder into a cup of water and drink before mealtimes. For best results, drink plenty of water to help with bowel movement.
Aloe vera can be used internally and externally. Aloe vera is well-known for wound healing due to its rich healing properties in the white flesh. When taken internally, aloe juice can have a soothing effect and help reduce inflammation on the gut. Cut 1 inch of the aloe vera leave, peel the green part off and blend the white flesh with 1 cup of water. Honey can be added to reduce the bitterness of aloe vera drink.
To avoid constipation, go when there is the urge to go. Exercise for at least 30min a day and stay hydrated with plenty of water.