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!
Did you know that hidden in the walls of our digestive system, we have a second brain called the gut-brain-axis and it is transforming our understanding of the links between good gut health and mood?
The gut-brain-axis (GBA) consists of a two-way communication between our brain and our enteric nervous system, (neurons in our gut that control the function of our gastrointestinal tract).
This system of nerves in our gastrointestinal system has over 100 million neurons!!! This system has so many nerves our gut has earned the nickname “the gut brain” or “the second brain”.
Stress, anxiety and depression can have a direct impact on our “gut brain” and how well our gut works, and vice versa.
Our “gut brain” is influenced by our sympathetic (“fight or flight”) and parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) modes and sends signals along the vagus nerve (an information highway) to our brain, relaying important messages about what’s going on.
This can influence how well our gut functions and helps explain why during times of worry, anxiety and stress (fight or flight) we may experience:
This two-way communication between our brain and our gut brain influences how we feel and think on a daily basis. A prime example of this in action is the feeling of butterflies in our stomach when we feel nervous or anxious before an important meeting or exam.
Probiotics and good gut bacteria support anxiety, mood and mental health
The balance of our gut bacteria matter when it comes to mental health. Recent advances in gut health research has highlighted the importance of certain gut bacteria in this bi-directional communication.
The health of our gut and the variety of our gut microbes influence how we think and how we feel.
Addressing leaky gut or any other gut imbalances is an essential step when it comes to supporting mental wellbeing, such as:
How does the gut brain and our actual brain communicate?
Our gut bacteria chat with our brain and vice versa and use different modes of communication, including:
The health of our gut has an effect on our brain and how we feel from day to day. Inflammation, a lack of microbial diversity and even specific species of gut bacteria have been linked with poor mental health including anxiety, low mood and depression. Research shows that altering bacteria in the gut through specific dietary changes may help to treat stress-related mood disorders and anxiety.
Contact me now to find out more about my 90-day personalised 1:1 support package to nail your nutrition and solve your anxiety and gut symptoms for good.
If you test positive for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, (SIBO), it means you may have bacteria in the small intestine which may be addressed medically (with antibiotics) or naturally (with anti-microbial supplements).
A SIBO friendly diet should also be introduced (more on that to come) and steps taken to support your general gut health. SIBO can be chronic in some people which suggests it may not be the root cause and further support and gut healing may be necessary.
If you test negative for SIBO, other causes of excessive bloating and gas could be food intolerance, digestive enzyme deficiency, bile insufficiency and/or bacterial imbalance in the large intestine. A comprehensive stool test may be helpful as it includes many of these markers. You may also enjoy reading my top five tips to prevent bloating.
Find out more about how we can work together to find the best approach for you here. If you'd like to arrange a time to chat we can discuss the best way forward for you here.
I’d love to know if you are incorporating any of my tips on how to reduce the risk of bloating? But, if you feel you have already tried absolutely EVERYTHING, and you have been given the all-clear by your GP but you are STILL struggling with excessive bloating, belching or gas, it might be time to consider Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or “SIBO”.
What is SIBO?
SIBO is when normal bacteria get moved from the large intestine into the small intestine where they can cause digestion problems, including excessive bloating and/or belching. SIBO is thought to be behind about 60% of IBS cases.
How can I get tested for SIBO in the UK?
Why test for SIBO?
Firstly, it’s helpful to get tested for SIBO so we know what we’re dealing with and so that once we have followed a nutritional programme we can retest to see how your levels are changing.
What is the SIBO test?
A SIBO test is a breath test where you collect multiple samples of breath over a three hour period. It measures levels of hydrogen and methane gases which will be produced if bacteria are present in the small intestine.
How can I get tested for SIBO?
To test for SIBO in the UK, you can try requesting a SIBO breath test from a GI consultant (requires referral by a GP) or, you can order one from me, a BANT registered Nutritional Therapist.
I've saved a story to my Instagram stories here to show you how the SIBO breath test works. It is very simple to complete at home. You can find a list of all the clinical test options I provide, including prices here. Full instructions on how to prepare for your SIBO test and complete the test are provided.
If you suspect SIBO, book a free call and we can chat further and make sure SIBO testing is the right test for you. You may also enjoy reading 'What Causes SIBO' and what to do if you test positive for SIBO here.
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