Constipation, gas, and bloating are among the most common gastrointestinal complaints for many people transitioning their nutrition or exercise routines. Though common, they are hardly desirable and can leave one scratching their head in wonder. These 8 Simple Tips To Get Relief from Constipation can be what you yearn for all this while.
The good news is that these changes are usually transient, meaning that they will go away and normalize on their own. Diversity, in any ecological or societal system, is the spice of life and is the best defense against ruin and collapse. And so it goes with gut bacteria. If you don’t eat a lot of fiber, you are going to select a population of bacteria that don’t eat a lot of fiber either.
Thus, if you make a dietary change – say, increasing your dietary fiber through consuming more vegetables (super healthy thing to do, by the way) your gut flora have to adjust. If you are increasing your vegetable intake, your gut flora will also change to promote more bacteria that can also metabolize and consume the fibers that you are consuming.
Then, when you do increase your fiber intake, you may experience those uncomfortable symptoms as the body microbes adjust and the numbers of bacteria increase that can handle the additional fiber and activity, your symptoms will dissipate, typically within a week or two.
So take heart, and know that these symptoms are actually a manifestation of a gut flora in transition to something more equipped to handle your healthy lifestyle.
There are a number of things that you can do to help your microbiome and second brain acclimate to these changes:
Sit down when you eat: we are all guilty of chugging a protein shake while running out the door or eating something over the kitchen sink, but truth is, it is more soothing for your second brain and balancing for gut motility to be relaxed when you eat.
Chew your food well: put your fork down between bites and chew that food until it is a soft paste. Chewing well puts less pressure on the stomach to break down food, less biochemical pressure on your digestive enzymes, acid and bile to break down the food biochemically, and, when food is better-blended, it is less fermentable by the bacteria in the colon, leading to less by products of fermentation.
If you are increasing fiber consumption, through veggies or supplements or whatever, you must increase water too: Adding fiber to a dry or dehydrated system will slow you down even more. For every additional gram of fiber you consume, aim for an additional ounce of water. Your pee should be a pale, clear yellow.
Consider a digestive enzyme: just til your gut flora gets used to your new routine, enzymes will help break down harder-to-digest compounds, helping to “train” your bacteria, reducing gas and bloating and even reducing constipation. Enzymes are used by many integrative practitioners as an intervention for constipation.
Bring in fermented foods: Long lost from our diets in the 90’s, this class of food is making a big comeback, and it is a good thing, too, as they help nourish, bolster and diversify a healthy gut bug population. Kombucha, kefir, yogurt (IF you tolerate dairy products), kimchi, pickles and sauerkraut are all good options. You only need a couple of bites.
Magnesium matters: on the supplement side, magnesium is a powerful go-to for constipation, helping to soften the stool and relax and dilate the bowel. Magnesium does a plethora of good things for the body, helping with blood sugar regulation, anxiety, musculoskeletal health and about 400 other things. Taking 300-500mg of magnesium before bed, followed by a big glass of water in the morning will often stimulate a bowel movement.
- Balance hard exercise with restorative movement: like the types of food you eat, the different ways you move your body will impact the gut flora. Movements should be varied and balanced. Just as it’s not ideal to couch surf 24/7, it’s no good to only go hard at the gym. Leisure walking, restorative yoga, tai chi and other forms of gentle movement should be incorporated to make your gut flora and second brain happy both.
- Probiotics are primo: Probiotics, the supplemental form of beneficial bacteria, act as transient visitors in your gut, and during their brief stay, they help spruce up bacterial populations and action, and also help the immune system and second brain. If gut symptoms aren’t clearing up, a dose of probiotics for a few weeks may be just what you need.
Follow these tips and give your body a little time to adjust to your new diet. Before you know it you’ll be feeling great!