Lets be real. Nobody likes feeling backed up. In fact, I would actually go as far to say that I would rather be shitting like silly than be clogged up like a cork in a wine bottle.
Yep. I went there.
Anyway, enough about my digestive preferences. I want to give you my top ten constipation hacks to help a sister out.
1. Drink Water
Seems obvious enough but I can’t tell you how many people come to me with constipation and are only drinking the liquid in their morning coffee and maybe a glass of water with dinner. There isn’t any hard and fast rule about how much water to drink to be honest. It will vary with your age, size, physical activity, state of health and the weather. A good place to start though is about 1.5L for a female and 2L for a male.
2. SLOWLY Increase intake of dietary fibre, particularly resistant starch
Don’t move to this step until you’ve mastered step one or you’ll make the problem worse. Also make sure that if you haven’t been having many of these foods in your diet previously that you start slow and low. Now, when I say different sources of fibre I am referring to digestible fibre, indigestible fibre and resistant starch because they all play a role in making all the cogs turn properly. A side note that resistant starch has been shown to be particularly beneficial at improving digestive function provided it is introduced slowly and in small quantities. See below for suggestions.
Digestible/Soluble fibre examples: The insides of fruit e.g. apple flesh, flesh of sweet potato, properly prepared grains/legumes.
Indigestible/Insoluble fibre examples: Skins of fruit, leafy greens, broccoli, and berries.
Resistant starch: Cooked and cooled potatoes, parboiled white rice, and green bananas.
3. Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria which help your digestive system function optimally. They play a role in almost every element of your health from your loo frequency to your concentration to your body composition and even to how your skin looks! Examples of fermented foods are sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, beet kvass, and high quality yoghurt.
Yep, too much stress can cause constipation. Try meditation, yoga, or dancing in your underwear to Taylor Swift (worked for me).
5. Eliminate potential allergenic or problematic foods and heal your gut
A 30-60 day elimination of sugar, gluten, dairy, artificial food-like products and for some people grains and legumes can be helpful in hitting the reset button and allowing the body to run a bit more smoothly. Once the 30-60 days is up, introduce one eliminated food group at a time and see how it makes you feel. If you feel no different or better- keep the bad boy in. If you feel a bit worse for wear then give it the boot or save it for special occasions.
For gut nourishing I highly recommend regularly consuming bone broth, gelatin and L-glutamine.
6. Increase your intake of healthy fats
Fat actually helps lubricate the colon (doesn’t that sound sexy!?). Fat intake also increases bile secretion which acts as a laxative. Some healthy fats include butter, ghee, coconut oil, avocado and olive oil.
7. Move it
Yourself that is. Exercise is great and getting the digestive juices flowing. You’ll be delivering well formed logs in no time (hopefully).
8. Get your thyroid checked
Hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroid diseases are a common cause of constipation. You can get this tested through your GP. Make sure you get all markers tested including TSH, T4, T3, Reverse T3 and Thyroid antibodies. I would further advise that you get an integrative GP, holistic nutritionist/dietitian or functional medicine practitioner to help you interpret these markers as “normal” on a standard pathology lab result is not always functional, let alone optimal.
9. Supplement with magnesium
Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical processes in your body. It is also helpful in curing constipation. The form of magnesium you’ll want to go for is glycinate or chelate. I recommend starting at about 400 mg for adults.
10. Get tested for parasites, dysbiosis and yeast
This would be a step I would take if the ideas 1-9 didn’t cure things for you. Make sure you get the help of a knowledgeable functional medicine practitioner who can order and interpret the right test for you. There are LOTS out there and only a few labs are using tests which are highly sensitive and specific. In my eBook ‘Healing Digestive Discomfort’ I step you through how to figure out what may be the underlying cause of your digestive issues, as well as guide you through which tests to choose and how to go about healing the root cause. Plus lots more! If you want to know more, check out all the details here.
There you have it. I hope you get some relief from those tips.
Until next time,