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Finding Relief – Can Diet Improve Constipation?

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Finding Relief – Can Diet Improve Constipation?

Constipation can be triggered by lots of things – being out of your usual routine, low fibre intake, low water intake, inactivity and certain medications like iron supplements, painkillers, diuretics (to help you get rid of sodium and water), and other drugs to treat heart disease, mental health conditions and allergies.

How do you know you’re constipated?

Symptoms include:

  1. Lumpy or hard stools (see Bristol Stool Chart here for examples).
  2. Feeling that your bowels haven’t emptied completely or your anus is blocked.
  3. Straining to pass a bowel motion.
  4. Manipulating your body position to try and pass a bowel motion.
  5. Having fewer than three bowel motions per week.

If over a three-month period you answer yes to two or more of these symptoms most weeks, then you have “constipation”.

How do you relieve constipation with diet?

Here are four things that research shows improve bowel function.

1. High-fibre foods

Different types of dietary fibres improve bowel function through different processes.

  • Fermentation of fibre in the colon produces water and other molecules, which make stools softer and easier to pass.
  • Absorption of water into stools stimulates the gut to contract and makes bowel motions softer.
  • Higher fibre intake creates bigger stools, which pass more quickly, resulting in more regular bowel motions.

Examples of good sources of fibre to help with constipation relief include;

Source of FibreServing SizeAmount of Fibre
Wholegrain bread1 slice1.5g
Wholemeal pasta½ cup3.9g
Weetbix2 biscuits3.2g
Legumes e.g., baked beans½ cup6.5g
Vegetables e.g., carrot1 carrot (unpeeled)6.9g
Fruit e.g., banana1 medium2.3g
Nuts e.g., almonds25 almonds3g
Peanut butter1 tablespoon2.7g
Psyllium husk1 tablespoon2.2g

Use our Healthy Gut recipe filter for high fibre meal and snack ideas.

2. Chia Seeds and Kiwi fruit

Both packed with fibre, chia seeds are able to absorb up to 27 times their dry weight in water and kiwi fruit is able to absorb ~3 times its weight in water, meaning they help make stools softer and boost volume by increasing the amount of water retained in bowel motions.

For breakfast, try Silas's Overnight Oats with some added chopped up kiwi fruit, or our refreshing Banana, Blueberry & Chia Smoothie!

3. Prunes

Prunes (dried plums) contain a large amount of sorbitol that passes undigested into the colon where bacteria ferment it. This produces gas and water, which triggers an increase in bowel movements.

Eating prunes is even more effective than psyllium in improving stool frequency and consistency. Try stewing them with a can of plum and a cinnamon stick. Use as a yoghurt topper or mixed into apple (or apricot) crumble.

If you don’t like prunes, other foods that contain sorbitol include apples, pears, cherries, apricots, plums and “sugar-free” chewing gum and “sugar-free” lollies.

4. Water

Not drinking enough water is the strongest predictor of constipation. When your body is a bit dehydrated, there’s less water for the fibre in your colon to absorb, meaning your bowel motions also become dehydrated and harder to pass. If your urine is the colour of straw – it’s usually a good indicator that you’re drinking enough water.

If your bowels are so packed you can’t pass any bowel motions at all, see your GP without delay.

To read the full article, visit The Conversation.

Your Personal Healthy Eating Quiz

What you eat or don’t eat affects how you look, feel and perform. Take our short quiz to find out what foods you could introduce to help you be your best.

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What is healthy eating?

Eating healthy is making sure you enjoy a wide variety of foods from each of the five major food groups daily, in the amounts recommended. The five major food groups as recommended by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating are:

  1. vegetables and legumes/bean
  2. fruit
  3. lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes/beans
  4. grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
  5. milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

Foods are grouped together because they provide similar amounts of key nutrients and eating a variety of foods from the list above helps to promote good health and reduce the risk of disease.

How do I improve my diet?

If you want to improve your diet you have come to the right place. By completing the Healthy Eating Quiz you’ll receive instant personalised feedback and a report on your diet quality to highlight any areas where you can improve your overall eating habits. Your score is based on the frequency and variety of the foods consumed from the five major food groups mentioned above. No Money No Time can help you improve your score by providing tips, goals and suggestions. On top of this we will provide quick, cheap and healthy recipes as well as credible answers to diet hacks, myths and FAQ’s.

Is my diet healthy?

Dietary habits are different between people. Some people choose to follow a particular diet (i.e., Keto diet or vegan diet) while some have to make changes due to certain food restrictions or health conditions. If you want to know if what you usually eat is healthy, then do the Healthy Eating Quiz today to give you the answers in less than 10 minutes.

Why is healthy eating important?

Your HEQ score and personalised feedback report is based on the frequency and variety of healthy core foods you usually eat. This is important because no single food contains all the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Some foods are higher in nutrients than others and people who have a lot of variety in the foods they eat are more likely to be healthy and to stay healthy. In other words, if you can eat a large variety of vegetables as opposed to only 2-3 types of vegetables, the benefits are much greater. This type of diet also helps you to feel better, think better and perform better during your usual daily activities.

Take the Healthy Eating Quiz