You've probably found this blog post because you're struggling with constipation and it's making your life really miserable. The pain from being backed up can include back ache, cramps, bloating and it can impact on your mood. You want to get to the bottom of the problem and feel better, right?
Many of the people I've worked with over the years have come to me with painful constipation and have been offered laxatives as a solution. Sadly, it's a temporary fix and unlikely to solve the root issues at play.
In this post, I'm going to share the 3 main causes of constipation and I'll explain what you can do to start to feel better. Sound good? Let's go!
1. The foods you're eating
Something we've grown up hearing is that you should eat bran when you're constipated. Don't do it! It's actually really difficult to digest and possibly going to make things down there worse.
So what should you actually be eating?
2. Stress is a major cause of constipation
Not many of us are aware of how our bodies work and how in sync our brains are with our digestive system. There is something called the "gut-brain-axis (GBA)" which is a two-way communication between our brain and our enteric nervous system, (neurons in our gut that control the function of our gastrointestinal tract). Basically what this means is that when you're stressed, your digestive system reacts.
You might not think you're stressed right now, but your body has been living in fight or flight mode for a year during the pandemic. You might be working from home and trying to juggle home schooling, but if you're a key worker and have been on the front lines, that is a whole other level of stress.
And what happens is the body "holds on to" waste because of the stress (the bowel is unable to relax fully) and we risk the reabsorption of toxins from the colon back into circulation in the body.
So what can you do to reduce stress in the gut?
Try the above strategies, which can all be used together, and I bet you'll feel calmer and see a change in you gut sooner than you might think.
3. You've got high levels of a certain bacteria linked to constipation.
If you keep getting constipated or you've had life long constipation, and haven't found a solution yet, it could be that you have a particular bacteria (Methanobrevibacter smithii) taking up too much real estate in your large intestine. It's associated with IBS-constipation (IBS-C) because it produces methane, which delays gut transit time. This can be investigated by completing a comprehensive stool test.
Stool tests can be carried out through a qualified nutritional therapist (like me!) and then after a thorough analysis, we'd work on addressing the balance of bacteria in your gut. This would be through dietary changes and tailored supplementation advice.
I hope you've found this blog post helpful and there's some things in here that you've not tried yet. It can be so hard to see the wood for the trees when you're in pain and no one is listening to you. But I urge you to try some of the options I've listed, because they will help heal your gut for good rather just than temporarily easing your suffering.
If you're suffering from constipation, there is light at the end of the tunnel! “Ease your gut, beat the bloat” is my new 5 week programme where we work towards your optimal gut health. Email me to join the waiting list for the next start date.
Need a little more support? Get in touch with me about working 1-2-1 over 90 days or book in for comprehensive digestive stool testing.
Living with tummy pain shouldn't be considered normal. I want to change the way we look at our digestive health. Find out more about my work and passion for helping you feel better over on Instagram!
When you come away from the doctor's surgery with a diagnosis of IBS and you're told that life will always be uncomfortable, it's hard to see where to go next. You might be making some mistakes trying to fix your own gut symptoms, so I thought I'd write a blog post to help you.
It's understandable that many of my clients try to take matters into their own hands once an "expert" has told them that there's little to no hope for recovery.
However, I want you to know that there is hope. You CAN have the freedom to love life again.
Read on to see if you're making any of these mistakes...
1. Cutting everything out
This is something I see all the time. Often people cut everything out and eat the blandest diet they can bear because they don't know what else to do. It can be what ends up being recommended, after serial investigations and only as a last resort, however cutting everything out is pretty pointless if you don't work on the underlying issues.
Usually, there are problems in the gut that need fixing or healing. And I always look at those factors before any diet decisions are made. For example, we'd look at how you can reduce stress, which is often a contributing factor for gut health by focusing more on foods which have a calming effect on the nervous system. Sometimes clients are taking anti-acids like Omeprazole or Rennies to ease digestive symptoms rather than solving the actual issue, which could be a vitamin or mineral deficiency, or even too little stomach acid.
Working with a qualified nutritional therapist means you're not on your own. Find out more here.
2. Following a low FODMAP diet
When I meet clients who are following a low-FODMAP diet, it's usually a strategy that's been dished out by their GP willy-nilly. (This isn't a criticism as such, because GPs are underfunded and have limited time and resources to support their patients. I get it!) But if you're recommended to follow the low-FODMAP diet, you have got to do it properly.
What often happens is people think onions and garlic are fodmaps so they cut those out but they don't do the diet appropriately and unfortunately it doesn't work like that. Excessive bloating, industrial gas and foul smelling stools are often associated with specific bacteria--Desulfovibrio spp and methanobrevii smithii—both of which can be picked up in a comprehensive stool test, and I can organise this. If you want to know more head here.
Following the low-FODMAP diet long term with no support can cause a depletion in microbials and friendly bacteria. Which is (in case you've not realised...) a bad thing. A healthy gut needs those things to do its job properly.
Instead of following a low-FODMAP diet, you should join my new 5 week programme. We'll follow a much more enjoyable anti-inflammatory diet, with recipes that you can try and we'll even do a cook along. The focus is on healing, nourishing and rebalancing your gut, not making you miserable! You can live a happier and healthier life!
3. Taking supplements without support
In the grand scheme of things, taking supplements isn't altogether a bad thing. In fact, they're a resource I often recommend to my clients. Under expert guidance, supplements can be incredibly beneficial. With a careful approach your therapeutic needs can be met.
However, I've seen an increase in clients who are taking supplement advice from influencers—who have no nutritional training—they've seen recommending them online. Or perhaps friends who've noticed improvements in their symptoms saying, "you should try it! It's worked wonders for me!". Sadly, supplements need a really personal approach. What works for one person might not work for another person. It can be an expensive waste of time!
The same goes for probiotics. Often my clients tell me they've "tried that; it doesn't work" but there are may different strains of probiotic, all with different abilities. And many probiotic rich foods are actually quite strong and can be overwhelming on a gut that is out of balance. So my approach is to look at healing the gut first, fixing any issues and then adding in probiotics to build gut health.
4. Believing that you have no problems because your colonoscopy is clear
So you've had a colonoscopy and it's ruled out the Big C, and numerous worrying illnesses, but hasn't given you an answer to your questions. That's not to say you don't have a problem, though. It just means that your problem can't be seen by a camera. Enzymes and bacteria are invisible to the basic cameras used in these procedures. And they're also unable to pick up how you feel and any bloating you might have.
So while these tests can be vital to rule out life-threatening illnesses, it's important that we acknowledge other ways of investigating gut health. A great example of this is using food journals like we keep on the "Ease your gut, beat the bloat" group programme. By recording what you eat and when, we can work through your diet, identifying triggers. Ones that can't be picked up by a camera!
Another avenue of investigation, beyond a colonoscopy, is comprehensive stool testing. This provides information on bacteria, yeasts and parasites that can become problematic if they become too dominant in an imbalanced or unhealthy gut. These bacteria, yeasts and parasites can be more easily detected because the tests use technology that can measure bacteria's genetic material so they are more easily detected. Find out more about that here.
5. You're trying to do it alone
It can be really lonely working through gut health problems by yourself. Investigating triggers and symptoms with no support is hard! But it doesn't have to be like that. According to research, about 20% of the UK adult population have IBS at any one time. So you're truly not alone!
Having to face all these difficulties on your own means that often you might face an information overload. You might end up Googling for ideas and getting caught up in searching down an endless rabbit-hole of info. Simply put, it is super-overwhelming. And it can cause you to give up.
So one easy fix is to look for a trusted and reliable community to share the journey with you. Love or hate social media, it's a place where you can meet fellow sufferers and compare and contrast your symptoms. You can share resources, develop strategies together or just hang out. But it's hard to know where to seek support and who you can trust online, isn't it? Joining a group programme like mine is a fantastic way of creating community.
Life doesn't have to be lonely!
Have you made any of these mistakes?
Are you at the end of your tether?
Tried every option with no success?
Time to try something brand new!
I'd love you to join my 5 week programme “Ease your gut, beat the bloat”. Each week we work towards your optimal gut health so you can feel better.
Find out more here on this post, or here. Feel free to email me any questions you have about the programme and how it works.
You've spent years going back and forth to the doctor about your tummy troubles - bloating, gas, diarrhoea, acid reflux, or constipation - only to be fobbed off with a one-size-fits-all “IBS” diagnosis. Working with a nutritionist 1-2-1 isn’t financially manageable just yet, but you know there’s more going on with your body than meets the eye. You want to get to the bottom of it all. So what can you do? Buy another elimination diet cookbook?
Hold your horses. Step away from the “free from” fodmap book shelf! I’ve created a group programme especially for you.
“Ease your gut, beat the bloat” is my brand new five week online group programme that will help you identify what is at the heart of your gut issues. I want you to help you find the freedom to love life again.
So why is this group programme better than any other? Read on!
What is “Ease your gut, beat the bloat”?
This is a 5 week nutritional mastermind for people struggling with gut health. We spend the 5 weeks exploring and identifying your triggers and figuring out the underlying issues. Then we look at ways to support you to feel better. We study foods that help your gut lining stay healthy, that stimulate digestive secretions you might be lacking, look at links between the brain and gut, and you’ll learn practical tips every step of the way.
Live sessions with me each week.
Unlike other group programmes on the market, I am here on the journey with you. Each weekly masterclass is delivered live and you’ll have opportunities to ask me questions live, as well as interaction in the dedicated private Facebook group.
This is a truly interactive experience, where you will feel seen and heard by me and others on the programme. It's an opportunity to really connect and understand your nutritional needs, learning how to look after your gut health and get feedback along the way.
Plus, I've got some exclusive guest experts lined up too!
This is the best part of any group programme! Feeling run down and embarrassed by your health problems can be totally isolating, so meeting other people who feel the same is incredibly refreshing and a huge relief! You’re not alone.
There’s an old adage about “a problem shared is a problem halved” and it’s so true! Talking through your issues and hearing other people’s stories really does help, and it gives us strength and resilience to tackle our problems together.
You can chat live after the Masterclasses, in the private Facebook group and share resources you find, solutions you’ve discovered, or recipes that you’ve found soothing. My group programme will connect you with other lovely people who’ve been through similar struggles in the tummy department.
Practical tools to fit busy lives
I’m not in the nutritional world to make people’s lives miserable! I got into this business to make a difference and help people like you. Stellar Health came to fruition after years of my own struggles, and wanting to find solutions. But I understand that not everyone has time to study for years to learn about nutrition like I did!
I get it! You’re busy, even in these bizarre times of coronavirus. You need practical tools that’ll help you rebuild your gut health. And I’ve designed this 5 week group programme to do exactly that.
We’ll be doing a live cook-a-long in Week 3 and throughout the programme I’ll share sensible and delicious recipes you can cook and adapt easily (ones that don’t involve weird and wonderful ingredients that you can only buy in that one random shop in London!).
Gentler ways of eating
This is not 5 weeks where we stop eating everything in order to work out where your problem stems from. Ease your gut, beat the bloat is all about developing gut health through nourishment, and taking the time to understand what’s really going on inside you.
Elimination diets work for some people, but in my experience it's listening to our bodies that gets results. And it's hard to listen properly when we're tired, hungry and cranky, unable to enjoy food right?! Which is why I don't follow that path with my clients.
Working with me—an experienced and well-qualified nutritional therapist—on a 1-2-1 basis isn’t an option for everyone financially and I only work with those clients over 90 days, but not everyone has that time spare. So joining my group programme is a brilliant way of accelerating and optimising your gut health while accessing my wisdom at a lower price.
On a logical level, think of the money you’ve saved from not going to eat out for the last few months. For less than the cost of a pub dinner for two each week, you can instead learn how to nourish your body with the things it truly needs. You’ll get a toolkit of resources and a new network of support to help you on your journey to food freedom.
So you'll finally stop feeling worried about whether you should go for that night out (because where is the nearest toilet?!) and instead - when lockdown’s over - you’ll be able to confidently head out with your friends and make food choices you know won’t make you feel grim.
(Plus you'll save a tonne of money on pointless supplements that won't alleviate symptoms or help your gut! Hurrah! If you do need supplements, I will give you guidance on what will truly support you, based on evidence, rather than expensive second-guessing.)
But you've tried everything?
Quite often, I am a last resort for clients who are at the end of their tether. You've tried the GP, you've exhausted the library of healthy eating cookbooks and have watched every food health programme on TV. And now I'm suggesting that a 5 week programme could be what you need? I know it sounds mad.
But I haven't spent the last 7 years helping people just like you to work out what's really going on inside their digestive system to make them feel so unwell, just to fob you off with a programme that doesn't work! I know that by nourishing your gut with the right foods, rebuilding the gut lining, and teaching you how to choose foods that will work for your body and your lifestyle, we can work together to make a real difference to your well-being.
So what have you got to lose? Ease your gut, beat the bloat starts 5th March 2021. Find out more here and book your spot on the group programme today!
What if I told you that it can take just 5 weeks to start feeling like a better you? No need to sign up for a 3 month 1-2-1 package with me or another nutritional therapist, or buy hundreds of books, or hire a personal chef, just a simple 5 step group programme that gives you the toolkit you need to make positive changes.
I have spent over 7 years working with hundreds of clients to help them feel better. They’ve gone from gassy and sluggish to comfortable and energised. Some have been able to sleep better than they have for decades. Clients no longer have to research every outing thoroughly for toilet arrangements before they can enjoy themselves…
And it’s all down to these simple steps!
Ready to discover what your journey to a healthy gut could look like? Read on...
1. Identifying your triggers & the underlying issues
When you’re chronically ill or in pain with no explanation, it can often feel like no one is listening to you. Like there’s no one who cares enough to find out what’s really going on with your body. I felt like that too once upon a time. It’s why I became a nutritional therapist.
In the first of the 5 weeks of “Ease your gut, beat the bloat” we play detective, and I help you uncover what’s happening inside your body, and to notice what is triggering the reactions. We start to explore anti-inflammatory foods and begin rethinking what we put on our plates to ensure they’re helping not hindering our progress.
2. Learn how to improve gut health and about foods that help the lining
Next it’s all about exploring foods which support digestive enzyme secretion and balance your stomach acidity.
Because the health of your digestive system decides whether nutrients will be absorbed or rejected, your digestion is key to your overall health! It is connected to everything that happens in your body. Your gut also makes decisions about which toxins, allergens, and microbes aren’t assimilated into the body. So keeping your digestive system healthy is vital!
We work through which foods aid gut health - probiotics, prebiotics and fibre among others! - and I teach you how you can eat these foods and incorporate them into your everyday routines and diet.
3. Understanding the link between your gut and your brain
This is an important step. Not many people are aware that there’s actually a deep connection between your gut and your brain. But it’s been shown in much research that there is a two-way communication between our brain and the nervous system in our gut.
This means that there’s a link between mood and food, and how different foods can make us feel. The health of our gut and the variety of our gut microbes influence how we think and how we feel.
4. New connections with people who understand what you’re going through
Opening up to people about the pain you’re suffering and sharing embarrassing moments can be like medicine in itself. And it’s a huge benefit of being on a group programme. You are learning on this gut health journey together!
Knowing you’re not alone, and being able to lean on each other for motivation and encouragement, is massively underestimated. You cannot get this on a video course. Live human interaction and experiencing transformation together is quite literally life-changing.
Meeting online every week with friends to learn and cheer you on is quite simply brilliant. Asking each other questions and giving each other respectful and reciprocal support in the group sessions, but also in a private community, is invaluable.
5. Hone your culinary skills!
It’s all very well learning the theory of it all and listening to an expert harp on about fermentation and “good” bacteria...but how do “normal” people put all this into practise? I hear you! And this is why the 5th step is rooted in practical skills.
You need tips and tricks for making life easier, not harder! And I will give you recipes and ideas for adapting menus to fit with your needs, as well as demonstrating how to cook some delicious food on our cook-a-long!
After 5 weeks of working with me and finding new friends along the way, you’ll be feeling better and equipped to totally change your life. No more dashing to the loo. No more worrying about another unfortunate “downward dog” incident. Bid farewell to migraines. You'll be well on your way to feeling like the real you again!
Want to know more about my brand new 5 week programme “Ease your gut, beat the bloat”? You can find out more here on this post, and here on the programme page itself. If you have any questions about the programme and how it works, feel free to email me.
Hello! Welcome to Stellar Health.
Want to know what foods best support the immune system? Get my top 5 tips here.
Please check your email inbox for my Top 5 Foods for Immune Support now. I hope you find it useful. Mary x
Think you’re too busy to eat well? Grab my FREE Store Cupboard Essentials guide and find out how!
Follow me on Instagram @stellar_health_mary