If you are struggling with sluggish bowels, it is important to address potential issues with things such as food sensitivities, lack of exercise, and stress. However, there are easy ways you can try, to support your gut and see if you improve.
WATER! – aim to drink at least 2L daily, away from foods as much as possible, only drinking sips with meals if you need it. Warm water with lemon on rising (20 mins before breakfast) and before other meals is fine to help reduce bloating and stimulate your bowel. Herbal teas also count as water.
FIBRE – try sources like brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, lentils, beans, chickpeas. Grated raw carrots in all salads, rolled oats for breakfast, and avoiding processed cereals is advisable. Soak oats in water overnight, add soy/rice milk if you like it, or coconut milk. Vary it – fresh fruit, cinnamon, raisins, dates, figs, seeds, flax/linseed oil. Also plenty of green and brightly coloured vegetables daily. Create a rainbow on your plate!
VITAMIN C – all types of berries, kiwi, broccoli, fresh parsley, citrus fruits, sprouts (alfalfa, beansprouts etc) are good sources
ESSENTIAL FATS – nuts (especially brazils, cashews), flax/linseeds or oil, avocado, oily fish (trout, mackerel, salmon), coconut milk. Use oils on food or make salad dressings with them and apple cider/balsamic vinegar, fresh garlic, herbs, lemon juice, whatever you enjoy. Soaked chia seeds (soak for minimum of 1 hour) are a great source of fats and fibre to encourage regular bowel habits.
OTHER FOODS – mushrooms, watercress, eggs, fish, soy products, green tea, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), warming spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, chilli, cayenne pepper) will stimulate bowel function. Eat beans, legumes, onions, garlic, bitter greens, linseeds (1 tbspn a day), Brassica family vegetables (the smelly ones) – cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts etc. these will all stimulate liver function to relieve constipation
PROBIOTICS – live plain yoghurt (1 spoon before bed on empty stomach), fermented foods (miso, sauerkraut, kombucha if you like them) will provide healthy bacterias for the gut, aiding relief of abdominal bloating and bowel regulation. Probiotic drinks such as Yakult are not advised due to high sugar content
FOOD COMBINING – Try not to mix heavy carbohydrates and proteins too much to ease your digestive load and avoid feeling over-full. However, if you are going to have a heavy meal, drink 5mls apple cider vinegar with a bit of water 20 mins before you eat, or include it in the meal (dressing etc) to aid the breakdown of proteins. Having some greens at the end of the meal also helps the digestive process along
RE-TRAIN YOUR BRAIN! – Each day at the same time (eg after breakfast) spend 10 minutes sitting on the toilet and relaxing, to train your body and mind to get used to the idea of going. Remain seated for the full 10 minutes, even if there is no urge to pass a bowel movement. Feet must be able to touch the floor so for children a step may be required