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Case of the Constipated..How regular are you?

A question I tend to ask quite often during a consult (obviously not during regular conversations while I’m out and about) is how regular are you? (also specifying that I am asking about bowel habits!). Reason – more and more people have been complaining of constipation. And the reason is usually concluded as what I would like to call : Low FWE – Low FIBRE, WATER, EXERCISE!

Constipation is defined as passing hard/dry stools (faeces) where straining is usually involved. It also includes passing stool (i.e. using the toilet) less often than usual. Other symptoms that can occur are bloating and stomach cramps. When should you see your GP? If the problem has lasted for 2 weeks or more, then I would suggest you see your doctor. Also, if you notice any blood in your stool, then that is definitely a sign for you to consult your doc.

 The Part about Fibre

I remember posting a few things about fibre when I first started my blog but it’s always important to refresh everyone’s memory! Fibre adds bulk to the stool making it move through the gut more quickly and easily. There are 2 types of fibre:

*Soluble Fibre – Its roles include reducing cholesterol levels as well as aiding with constipation by softening the stool. Sources include fruits, vegetables, dried beans, lentils, oat bran, barley, seed husks, flaxseed, psyllium, soy products.

*Insoluble Fibre – The major role of insoluble fibre is to add bulk to faeces helping it move more quickly through the bowel. Sources include rice bran, wheat bran, corn bran, nuts, skins of fruits and vegetables, seeds, dried beans and wholegrain foods.

So how to get more fibre in your diet?

  • Snack on fruits, raw vegetables & wholegrain crackers/biscuits.
  • Choose wholegrain breakfast cereals and breads, as well as brown rice and wholemeal pasta.
  • Substitute some of the meat in stews, casseroles or mince dishes with cooked or tinned lentils, kidney beans or chick peas. Add extra vegetables diced or grated vegetables.
  • When baking, use wholemeal flour instead of white.
  • Add sliced fruit and nuts to cereals for breakfast.
  • Eat whole fruit rather than drinking the juice –the juice lacks the fibre.
  • When reading the nutrition information panel of food products, choose foods that contain 5g or more of fibre per 100g.

Don’t forget the Water Flush!

When you increase the fibre in your diet, don’t forget to increase your water intake as well since fibre absorbs water in the bowel. You can also think of it as a type of “flushing” system. Drinks add bulk and fluid to stool making it easier to get rid of.

Exercise, exercise, exercise!

Regular exercise is known to improve bowel motility. Daily exercise for about 30 mins is recommended for all! Those with a condition that affects their mobility need to be as active as possible by finding suitable things to do each day through guidance by health professionals.

There are other medical reasons as to which constipation would occur and further investigations are done if, as mentioned earlier, it has lasted for 2 weeks or more. Bottom line is – If you feel like something is not quite right, seek help!

 

2 Comments
  1. Babies who are breast fed, for example, tend to pass stools less frequently than bottle fed babies. Beans

    • Breast fed babies pass stool less frequently only in the first week or so of life but then are hardly ever constipated. Also, it’s not how often they pass stool which is important – constipation in babies can also refer to how hard the stool is when it is passed. With babies who are breast fed, hard ‘ pellet – like’ stools can be an indicator that they are not getting enough milk. With bottle fed babies – constipation can be due to reasons such as: not making up the formula right (ratio of powder to water) or changing formulas.

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