Stomach cramps aren’t anyone’s idea of fun – and, yet, who hasn’t experienced them once or twice? Wish you could learn how to avoid and fight constipation? You’re not alone. Intestinal issues are common. In fact, more than 20% of us suffer from them and most sufferers are women. The symptoms are abdominal swelling, pain and excess gas. But don’t fret! In this article, we’ll give you 8 tips for fighting constipation.
As we mentioned, statistics suggest that women tend to be affected by constipation more often than men, so we’ll focus on a few explanations and guidelines specific to the female sex that will help you to prevent this malady. Ready? Let’s begin.
Why do women get constipated?
Those pesky hormones
Why do you do this to us, hormones? It’s true, though. If you’re a woman, your hormones are responsible for a predisposition to constipation. The explanation for this is due to the cycle changes that occur during menstruation. These variations affect the intestines and mean that they move less or slow the movements of the bowel – the very movements that are necessary for defecation.
Don’t discount diet
Maybe this will be enough to put you off the latest fad diet. It could be leading you down constipation row. If you’re a yo-yo dieter, consider this: very restrictive diets that are low in fibre or don’t provide enough of an array or variety of nutrients will adversely affect intestinal health. If you feel that you must diet, be prudent and cautious. Ensure that you are getting sufficient nutrition from a variety of healthy sources.
Stand up and fight constipation
1. Complete breakfast
It’s important that you follow some specific dietary guidelines. For instance, breakfast really is that important, yes…because it provides a great deal of fibre – or it should, if you’re doing it properly! What do we mean? Well, it’s vital to include whole grains such as porridge oats or bran. Drink a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice or plant milk (coconut, soya, hemp, oat, almond). Have a piece of fruit or a few berries, too. And feel free to wash it all down with a lovely infusion of chamomile or mint. These foods will work wonders in staving off any impending constipation.
2. Light dinners
Don’t be one of those people eats late and heavy meals. If you’ve been at work or an extracurricular activity until late, you’re probably going to be famished by the time you get home at night. The temptation will be to load up. You might even crave a takeaway. Just say no! At night, your stomach starts to wind down and this means that intestinal movement is much slower, too. Bit by bit, you’ll begin to retain more than usual and it’s this build up that leads to constipation. Most medical professionals agree that the last meal of the day should be taken at least 2 hours before you retire for the night.
3. Choose veggie carefully
Vegetables and legumes are excellent allies in the war on constipation. Be warned, though: some don’t settle as well. You need to learn which are friends and which are foes. For instance, for many people, broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes bring on flatulence and this means that they aren’t always good choices – especially if you’re eating a late meal. Contrary to what may seem common sense, salads at night are not always a clever idea either. Leafy greens and lettuce can also increase gas levels in your intestines, which is as pleasant as it sounds! Still, each of us reacts differently, so it’s trial and error. As a general guideline, aubergine is usually quite a safe option.
4. Leave the peels on
Popular opinion seems to promote the peeling of every fruit that we eat. Dispense with that silly notion, though. Whenever possible, you’re better off consuming fruits with their natural packaging intact. In other words: eat the skin along with the fruit. It’s easy to make this change. When hunger has you reaching for a mid-afternoon apple, just give it a rinse and sink your teeth into the whole, delicious thing. There’s no need to peel it! Whenever you squeeze an orange for its juice, don’t remove the pulp. It’s excellent for promoting good intestinal transit. Looking for a few other comrades to help ward off constipation? Try pears, kiwis, strawberries, grapes and plums.
5. Don’t dice with diets
Thinking about starting a diet? There are a few things that you should consider before diving in. First of all, is it varied enough? Does it provide the basics: plenty of minerals, vitamins, proteins and fibre? Fibre is really essential and should be accompanied by sufficient intake of liquids. Never skimp on water. In fact, you can safely drink 2 litres a day and even enjoy some pure juices along with them.
6. Hola, olive oil
You can and should say ‘yes’ to small amounts of extra virgin olive oil, but don’t drown your food in it – even though it is a beneficial fat. When you include moderate amounts of olive oil in your meals, your intestinal transit will improve and, therefore, limit your chances of becoming constipated. Don’t fear this healthy oil.
7. Forego forbidden foods
Are you really serious about avoiding bouts of constipation? Remember the adage: junk in, junk out. You’d do best to give a wide berth to any food that your body will have difficulty processing. Sorry, but that means those addictive things that contain refined flour and sugar, are fried, highly-seasoned or industrially produced. Yes: sweets, too. They all provide extra sugars and fats that harden faeces and make you feel bunged up. Rice and aged cheeses have a similar result, so you’ll do yourself a favour if you restrict – or, at the very least, moderate – your intake of these little devils.
8. Move about a bit
Give it a go! It’s not difficult once you put your mind to it. Start off modestly. Try to introduce 20-30 minutes of activity into your day. Go out for a walk, a bicycle ride or a swim. You can even do some simple star jumps and lunges or just jog in place. If you can recruit a friend for company, all the better! Find an exercise that suits your abilities and that you’ll enjoy. It will not only get you moving, but it will get your bowels going, too. There’s no denying that exercise is good for health. Not only will it mitigate your odds of being constipated, but it’ll also help prevent other illnesses and disease. Don’t put it off any longer. On your bike (or feet or skates…)!