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According to the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, one in four Canadians suffers from occasional constipation. My nutritional tips to alleviate your symptoms
Transit varies from person to person and changes with age, certain psychological factors and diet. A normal rhythm can range from one to three bowel movements per day to two to three bowel movements per week. Everyone has their own pace. When the stools become dry and hard and the evacuation is difficult, it is called constipation. Often, the person also has a feeling of incomplete evacuation. Bloating and abdominal pain often accompany constipation, while more severe complications can occur in the presence of chronic constipation (anal fissures, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis).
Constipation and mental health
People with mood disorders and anxiety often have gastrointestinal problems, including constipation. Bidirectional communication between the brain and the intestine is a very interesting field of research, and the next few years will undoubtedly be able to specify new avenues for intervention.
5 nutritional tips
Dietary factors are among the most common causes of constipation, including insufficient fluid intake (dehydration) and a low fiber diet.
1. Drink enough
Insufficient fluid intake can lead to constipation. When dehydrated, the body retains water in the blood by absorbing excess water in the stool. However, stools containing less water are more difficult to evacuate. Adequate fluid intake (water and drinks) is 2.2 L/day for women aged 19 and over and 3 L/day for men of the same age group.
2. Consume fiber
Dietary fiber absorbs water and increases the volume of the stool, which promotes its evacuation. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are good sources of fiber. It is important to increase fiber intake gradually and to consume enough fluids to avoid intestinal blockage. The recommended amount of fiber for women aged 19 to 50 is 25 g per day and 38 g per day for men in the same age group. Most people don't get enough fiber on a daily basis.
There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fibers dissolve in water, they form a gel which facilitates the passage of stools. Pectin is an example of a soluble fiber found in apples. Oats, chia seeds and psyllium also provide soluble fiber. As for insoluble fibers, they do not dissolve in water and increase the volume of the stool, which facilitates their transit. Whole grains, wheat bran, nuts, seeds, legumes are some of the food sources of this second type of fiber.
To eat more fiber
- Opt for whole fruits and vegetables rather than their juice
Whole fruits and vegetables contain more fiber than juice.
- Choose whole grains over refined grains
Whole grains contain more fiber than refined grains.
- Consume more often vegetable proteins
Unlike animal-based proteins, plant-based proteins, such as legumes and nuts, contain fiber that helps regulate intestinal transit.
- Consuming prunes
Prunes and prune juice are rich in fiber, sorbitol and dihydroxyphenylisatin, a substance believed to promote bowel movements. It is best to consume the whole fruit, as the juice contains less fiber and more sugars.
- Add fiber to your diet
You can add fiber to your daily menu by adding one of the following foods: wheat bran, flax seeds, chia seeds, psyllium.
3. Consuming probiotics
Studies indicate that an unfavorable gut microbiota (dysbiosis) can contribute to constipation and constipation-like irritable bowel syndrome. Using probiotics could be a treatment option. In fact, research shows that certain strains of probiotics can help reduce the symptoms of constipation.
4. Consume prebiotics
Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates (inulin in particular) found in foods (artichokes, leeks, bananas) and which serve as food for probiotics. Studies show that prebiotics promote the growth of certain strains of bacteria that help prevent constipation.
5. Eat at regular times and engage in daily physical activity
Having a routine schedule promotes proper bowel function. Physical activity also facilitates the regularity of transit.
►Discover my recipe for Spanish chickpeas which provides 10 g of fibre: