Constipation. Everyone deals with it, but nobody talks about it. We all have heard the typical advice: eat a healthy diet, consume more fiber, drink more water, be more active. What if, though, you are already doing those things and are still struggling? Then what do you do?
Here are some lesser discussed reasons that could be contributing to your issues, and what you can do to get things going again.
- Consuming Too Much Fiber. While it’s true that fiber adds needed bulk which helps keep the digestion process moving to prevent constipation, too much fiber will have the opposite effect. Rather than keeping things moving freely, it can act like cement in your system. If you are consuming high fiber bars, snacks, and supplements, try cutting back on those items and see how you feel. More is not always better!
- Eating foods that do not agree with your system. This is true even if a food is considered “healthy.” What might work well and be good for someone else may not be good for you. For example, dates and kale disagree with my body. I can have these items in small amounts, but too much of either wreaks havoc on my system. To find out if a particular food is troublesome for you, track what you are eating as well as the days you have trouble in the bathroom. That way, you’ll have a record to look back on to narrow down what the culprit may be.
- Your gut bacteria is out of balance.
You don’t have enough gut bacteria. Do you know that your gut contains tens of trillions of microorganisms? There are at least 1,000 known species of bacteria, 150-170 of which predominately live in each of us. The composition of gut microbes is unique to each individual, just like our fingerprints1. With such a complex system, it’s easy to disrupt the balance. Here are some common culprits that can destroy our gut bacteria:
Medications – including over the counter medications and many prescribed medications such as antibiotics, steroid nasal sprays, and any other steroid medications.
Lack of variety in the diet – bacteria grow and thrive on the foods we eat, so eating a restrictive diet will limit not only the amount of bacteria in your system, but also hinder the ability for certain species to thrive if particular foods they need to grow are not ingested.
You have too much gut bacteria. Just like it’s possible to have too little gut bacteria, it’s also possible to have too much. Here is another example of where more is not always better:
Taking too many probiotics – and/or eating too much yogurt.
Taking probiotics with limited strains – remember that you have up to 170 different species of bacteria living in your gut, so if you are taking a supplement with only 3-5 strains, try to find one with more variety and/or try taking a variety of different types o probiotics to see what works best for you.
Lack of variety in diet, or, eating too much of certain foods (especially those that give you digestive trouble) – This can lead to a condition called SIBO which is something I have personally dealt with and still continue to manage. Bacterial overgrowth can occur from.
The Key To Keeping Things Moving: Optimize Gut Health
- Eat enough fiber to keep things moving, but don’t go overboard.
- Pay attention to what you are eating and how you feel after eating potential “trigger” foods.
- Eat a wide variety of whole, natural unprocessed foods.
- Manage stress as best as possible.
- Take a probiotic only if necessary.
- If a probiotic is needed, supplement with one that offers a variety of strains, and only take as much as you need. I use a combination of Lactoprime Plus and Vital 10 which offers a variety of strains. The Vital 10 is in powder form, so you can really personalize the amount you are taking.
- If trying to build gut flora, eat fermented foods along with taking a probiotic. Two of my favorites are sauerkraut and apple cider vinegar.
- If you don’t know where to start, Champion Naturopath has been a tremendous help to me with my gut issues. I highly recommend them for anyone struggling with gut health.
The information found on this blog is based on my own personal thoughts and opinions. I am not a doctor or registered dietician. Please be sure to consult your health care professional before starting or changing any fitness or nutrition program.
Disclaimer: I am not receiving any compensation for the products or comapnies recommended in this post
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