Constipation or feeling “blocked up” is very common. In fact, 1 in 5 Australians are experiencing it.
But what does constipation actually mean?
Constipation is the inability to empty your bowels regularly. What’s “regular” changes depending on the person, but there should be minimal discomfort or a blockage sensation. Signs of constipation may include hard stools (like pebbles), abdominal stomach discomfort, bloating, fatigue and nausea. Constipation is caused by a lack of dietary fibre, not enough water, little exercise, certain medications, stress and specific medical conditions.
The good news is, there’s a lot you can do!
- Eat as many plant-based foods as you can. Specifically, the soluble fibres found in vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds & legumes. Fantastic sources include pumpkin flesh, banana, oats and psyllium husk.
- Drink more water. Aim for 2-3L each day as water helps to push the poop through your gut.
- Get physical and move your body. Bending sensations can activate the gut, helping to pass some unwanted material.
- Read the side effects of your medication. Iron supplements classically cause constipation. This will be discussed with your dietitian or doctor and appropriate measures will be taken.
- Manage your medical condition. Constipation is a common side effect of hypothyroidism, diabetes, depression and eating disorders. This is why it’s crucial to get effective support from dietitians, GPs and other allied practitioners.
- Go when you need to go and avoid “holding it in”. This process can teach your bowel to resist the urge to go.
On the topic of constipation, we must discuss laxatives.
Laxatives, like Coloxyl and Senna, contract your bowel muscles to push your poop through your gut. However, these laxatives SHOULD NOT be taken long-term, as the bowel can become dependent. They can also have very unpleasant side effects like pain, cramping, nausea, low mood and a lack of energy.
Instead, talk with your dietitian about the most suitable supplement to regulate your bowel routine. Because everybody has a different history, I’m unable to recommend 1 individual supplement for this.
However, you may book a consult if you’re after extra support to manage your bowel routine, or if you would like recipe ideas.