Ideally we need to move our bowels every day without straining. Your stool should resemble a smooth sausage. If you are only going a few times a week, or producing hard pellets or are having to strain then you are constipated.
The main causes of constipation are :
1. Food intolerance (generally gluten and / or dairy)
2. Underactive thyroid (causing slow motility)
3. Lack of fibre
a. Eat more berries, apples, pulses, vegetables, quinoa and nuts
4. Stress and feeling ‘uptight’
5. Lack of good bacteria
a. Eat fermented vegetables or take a probiotic
b. Many medications such as The pill, stomach acid suppressants, antidepressants, antibiotics and Metformin interfere with good flora
Eating more good fats can stimulate the bowels so use cold pressed olive oil on salads and real butter on potatoes.
Increase your veg portions to 5 per day and fruit to 2/3
Increase water in line with added fibre – 2-4 pints per day
For some people with low stomach acid, red meat can slow the bowels due to poor digestion
• Relaxation is very important for bowels. Being uptight and stressed can hinder the bowels. Allowing time in the morning to go, never ignore the urge
• Exercise is good to keep the bowels moving. Brisk walking or jogging and yoga can be good.
• Increase stomach acid with betaine and digestive enzymes and apple cider vinegar
• Progesterone levels can cause constipation particularly just before a period. Balance these with the herb Agnus Castus and reduce stress which can unbalance hormone levels.
• Probiotics encourage good bacteria that may be reduced due to stress, the Pill, antibiotics or other medication such as acid suppressing medication.
• Linseeds (flaxseeds ground) and chia seeds are good sources of soluble fibre and help lubricate the bowels. A dessert spoon per day, or morning and night, added to porridge, soup or yoghurt, or soaked overnight in water or beetroot and carrot juice.
• Pysllium husks (from Baldwins) 1 tsp twice a day in water or squash followed by additional glass water half an hour before meals
• Magnesium relaxes the bowel and is a general relaxant useful to take at night. Take 400 – 600 mg per day as capsules of magnesium citrate or glycinate
• Vitamin C – 1000g taken twice a day can increase movement