13 suggestions to help avoid Constipation during Weight-Loss

Can you imagine what a bin left full for 2 to 3 days in high heat conditions would look and smell like?

That is how I imagine a bowel when it is constipated. I know, disgusting but maybe motivational to do something about it!

I have 13 tips for you to consider to help you avoid constipation while losing weight

Our insides are like factory, constantly making new parts for us, producing heat, absorbing nutrients into the blood stream but leaving the waste product in the gut for elimination.  People vary greatly in how frequently they eliminate waste from their bowel. A complete daily elimination is healthy and for some people this may involve 2 to 3 visits to the toilet daily. For others, a bowel movement every second or third day is the norm.

My concern is that when waste lingers in the intestine, the greater the chance that bacteria such as clostridia will convert compounds such as bile into harmful substances.  An unhealthy bowel can create toxins such as fusel, indican and putrescine which enter the bloodsteam producing symptoms elsewhere (e.g. coated tongue, bad breath, skin boils, headaches, tiredness).

Constipation can affect the health of the bowel therefore it is worth investigating various foods or supplements that help produce daily eliminatios. What works for one person may not work for another and I have listed some options for you to consider below:

Note: If you suffer from any bowel disorder, please consult your doctor and nutritionist as some products may not be suited to you – e.g. some supplements being sold for constipation contain sorbitol which is not suited to IBS sufferers.

1. Soluble & Insoluble Fibre

Wholegrain oats provide both types of fibre. Add Oat bran to oats to increase the soluble fibre content.

All Bran  has 27g fibre per 100g of cereal and is very effective for some people but in others, bran can irritate the gut wall

Plant foods including vegetables, fruits and legumes are an excellent source of fibre. I recommend 7 servings of vegetables (560g) daily and 2 to 3 fruit pieces daily. Prunes, pears, mangos and rhubarb are good fibre fruits. Beans and lentils are rich sources of fibre and can be used in salads, soups, casseroles and healthy burgers. Use small quantities initially (1-2 teaspoons) as they can produce more gas. Again people with diagnosed bowel conditions such as IBS will not be able to tolerate beans and certain fruit and vegetable.  

 There are supplemental powders such as Slippery Elm and Psyllium husk and teas like Marshmallow root that I have found effective myself and with clients when on a Low-Carb diet.

2. Water

When you increase the fibre in the diet, the body needs adequate water to process it. Ideally consume 2 litres of filtered or mineral water per day. Vegetables and fruits are an excellent source of clean water. Hot climates and lots of exercise demand additional hydration.

3.Consider Dietary Changes

Try cutting out animal foods such as red meats, all processed meats (sausages etc), high-fat dairy, cheese and poultry from your diet for a 2 to 3 week period and note any difference in your stools and your sense of wellness. Too much animal product in the diet can promote the growth of unhealthy bacteria in the bowel.

Fresh fish, nuts, eggs, beans are alternative good protein sources. Adjust your diet accordingly after the trial, enjoying these foods occasionally rather than regularly if your bowel habits improved. You could also trial a reduction in sugar intake and go Low-Carb, eliminating  starchy breads, cereals, sweets and sugar drinks. I can advise on Low-Carb food plans.

4. Soaked Flax seeds / Linseeds

Soak 2 heaped teaspoons of whole flaxseeds / linseeds in cold water overnight in a glass and enjoyed over breakfast in the morning with cereal, porridge or a smoothie. They help to lubricate the bowel and provide fibre. Choose whole over GROUND seeds.

5. Magnesium

Magnesium is the nutrient that relaxes muscles – the bowel wall has layers of muscles which contract to propel the food along the 30ft of bowel. An Epsom Salts bath for 20 minutes provides magnesium and sulfate to the bowel via the skin. A trial of magnesium supplements may help. Increase magnesium-rich foods sources  –  plant foods (wholegrains, greens veggies and all veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, cocoa powder (dark chocolate).

6. Probiotic (bacteria) Supplement

Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, coconut kefir, coconut yogurt and probiotic yogurt may provide beneficial flora which play a role in regulating bowel movement. Lactobacillus Acidophilus and lactobacillus bifidus supplements provide bacteria that help to normalise digestion, constipation and diarrhoea

7. Aloe Vera and other calming agents

Aloe Vera helps to sooth the inner lining of the bowel wall if there is irritation and can be bought in liquid form. Other calming agents include peppermint, liquorice, chamomile and fennel. These can be taken as teas or are combined with Aloe Vera in some supplements.

 8. Green juices

Leafy green vegetables such as kale, cabbage and other greens such as celery, courgette, cucumber, parsley, spinach, chard provide chlorophyll that helps to cleanse the bowel. Add wheatgrass to smoothies and juices. You can buy chlorophyll in liquid form or capsule form (alfalfa) or via algae sources such as spirulina and chlorella. Begin with a small amount if supplementing.

9. Dry Skin Brushing

Before bathing, use a natural bristle brush on the surface of your skin to stimulate your lymph system. With a long-handled brush, using long strokes, brush towards your heart, starting at your toes. Use lighter strokes in sensitive areas and thinner skinned areas. Focus on the abdomen, brushing up from the right thigh to right breast, right to left across the middle and left breast down to left thigh – this follows the route of waste material through the large colon out of your body.

10. Castor Oil pack

After dry skin brushing, you can apply a warm castor oil pack (wool flannel soaked in caster oil warmed in the oven, applied to abdomen area directly and wrapped over with the flannel covered in plastic and a hot water bottle laid over the pack). These oils are absorbed by the skin and stimulate the production of bile by the liver which travels into the intestine. Bile helps to excrete toxins. I personally find this messy and don’t have the patience for it.  

11. Hormonal constipation

Serotonin is a brain chemical affecting sleep, mood, appetite, sex drive and it also stimulates  bowel movements. It is produced primarily by endocrine cells behind the gut wall. During ovulation and prior to menstrual flow (PMS), the sudden shift in sex hormones can lower serotonin levels resulting in many symptoms, one of which is  constipation. Serotonin is made from protein foods containing typtophan – turkey, almonds, eggs are good sources. When these are combined with carbohydrates and digested and absorbed, it helps to ensure adequate raw material. B6 is also important for its production. A supplement, Alpha lactalbumin (LAC) is suggested to enhance serotonin production and lowers cortisol, reducing anxiety. I have not researched this suggestion so please seek advice before supplementing.

Stress can also cause constipation or diarrhea.

 12. Exercise

When we walk briskly, jog and move, we help to generate ‘peristalsis’ of the bowel – contraction of the bowel wall and this helps eliminations.

13. Stimulants

Stimulants such as caffeine are helpful to some people in stimulating a bowel wall contraction. An early morning coffee may help but avoid excessive caffeine intake.

When you change your diet, your bowel habits can also change so just be aware. The primary goal of weight-loss is to create a healthier you and this includes maintaining a happy and healthy bowel. If you would like help losing weight. contact me.

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