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.
Ask yourself honestly:
Certain foods including:
Shortly afterwards, our blood sugar levels can rapidly crash which is usually when we start to feel hungry again or our sweet cravings kick-in.
You may be familiar with the term, "hangry", which describes a person who is hungry and angry, usually from prolonged fasting and low blood sugar. Perhaps you experience it first-hand yourself, or know somebody who does? This is a classic sign of low blood sugar and will have a very negative impact on mood and anxiety.
How to recognise when you're blood sugar is crashing
When your blood sugar crashes, your body produces "fight or flight" hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. At this point you may start to experience:
These stress hormones send alarm signals around your body warning that the foods are “shocking” and “scaring” and to "please eat something again" in order to get blood sugar levels back to normal. Cortisol and adrenaline can lead to feelings of anxiety and “jitteriness”. The long-term effects may include panic attacks.
How to avoid sugar crashes
To minimise our risk of low mood, depression and anxiety our aim is to focus on eating foods that keep our blood sugar stable such as good quality protein, like eggs, and healthy fats such as almonds and avocados.
Could your anxiety or low moods be symptoms of blood sugar imbalance?
I’ll explain step-by-step how to avoid this from happening in my upcoming online masterclass: Nutrition, Anxiety and your Gut on 8th September 2020 at 7pm. Grab your ticket here.
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.
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