If you’ve heard that red wine is one of the healthiest of all alcoholic beverages, it’s for good reason.
Thanks to the antioxidants found in the skins of grapes from which it’s made, red wine has been widely publicized as being “healthful”. The kind of antioxidants found in red wine, like RESVERATROL, have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation and oxidation are considered the root causes of most disease, so consuming antioxidant-rich foods is a key component in disease prevention.
Moderate consumption of red wine has been linked to improved heart health, along with other health benefits, like decreasing the risk of:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- certain cancers
Some of the buzz around red wine’s health benefits comes from its prominent role in the well-studied Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet includes lots of fruit, vegetables, fish, olive oil, and red wine, and is believed to contribute to a long lifespan and low incidences of heart disease and cancer among Mediterranean populations.
The health benefits of red wine are also thought to contribute to low rates of heart disease among the French, despite this population traditionally eating a diet high in saturated fat (think cheese, cream, and buttery croissants!).
How exactly does red wine improve heart health?
But, does a glass of red wine a day really keep the doctor away? Maybe.
Studies have linked regular consumption of red wine with the following positive outcomes:
- increased HDL cholesterol (the good, protective kind)
- lowered LDL cholesterol (the bad, inflammatory kind)
- lowered triglycerides (fat or lipids found in the blood)
- improved blood pressure
- more stable blood sugar levels
High blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, and undesirable cholesterol and triglyceride levels are all contributing factors in the development of more serious heart disease, like heart attacks and stroke.
Is red wine an essential part of a healthy diet?
The short answer is no.
If you aren’t a fan of wine or choose not to consume alcoholic beverages, there’s no reason to start drinking red wine for the sake of your health!
Plenty of other diet and lifestyle factors, like eating lots of fruits and vegetables, getting regular physical activity, not smoking, and managing stress can provide the same health benefits.
If you enjoy drinking wine, you should choose red varieties over white for the added antioxidants and health benefits. While white wine does contain some antioxidants from grapes, red wine contains much higher amounts.
Like any other alcoholic beverage, it’s also important to remember to limit wine consumption. The health benefits of red wine only apply when it is enjoyed in moderation. Surprise!
When consumed in excess, any alcoholic beverage can negatively impact your health, contributing to alcohol dependence, organ damage, and increased risk of several cancers.
A good rule of thumb for alcohol intake is to limit consumption to one (1) drink per day for women and one to two (1-2) drinks per day for men. The serving size for one standard glass of red wine is 4 oz.
Since the size of wine glasses can vary, use a liquid measuring cup to familiarize yourself with what a 4 oz pour of wine looks like. Then, stick to that serving size!
Whether you call them pimples, blemishes, or zits, ACNE is a common skin condition that can be a source of discomfort, frustration, and embarrassment for those who experience it.
There’s quite a lot of behind-the-scenes action happening in your body that contributes to the development of it.
What Is Acne?
Acne can occur at any age, but is often experienced during distinct phases of hormonal shifting, like adolescence, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. This is because fluctuating hormone levels can increase the amount of oil produced by the skin.
A bout of acne or even the appearance of a single pimple is the result of a buildup of oil, skin cells, and/or bacteria in the pores of the skin.
Causes of Acne
Studies have linked acne to:
- Inflammation – the root cause of all disease
- Compromised gut health (i.e. leaky gut, not enough good gut bacteria)
- High blood sugar and unstable insulin levels
- Hormonal imbalances
The foods you eat don’t usually directly cause breakouts, but can contribute to acne by promoting inflammation, impairing gut health, and spiking blood sugar and insulin levels.
Inflammatory foods include those high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Examples include:
- White breads, pasta, and rice
- Candy, baked goods, and other sweet desserts
- Sweetened drinks, like soda
- Fried foods
- Hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and saturated fats found in margarines, processed foods, and many animal products
Refined carbohydrates (many of which are high glycemic index foods), contain little fibre and protein, which helps slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes.
Instead, these sugary foods are quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, causing blood sugar to climb and lots of insulin to be released.
Excess insulin can affect other hormones and cause too much oil to be made by the skin, resulting in those dreaded breakouts.
Typical Acne Treatments
Most people deal with breakouts on the surface, relying on topical cleansers, creams and lotions to treat their blemished skin as fast as possible.
However, relying solely on these types of treatments can result in a cycle of continuous breakouts and can delay complete healing of the skin.
‘Spot treatments’ are just that – they treat the symptom (the acne), but never address the underlying root cause.
Instead of reaching for the harsh topicals and concealer, try healing your skin from the inside out.
Treating Acne Holistically
It’s important to consider any foods you may be sensitive to and to try avoid or minimize those. Your immune system can react to certain foods, causing even more of an inflammatory response.
If you suspect your breakouts may be caused by a food sensitivity, consider testing or trying an elimination diet to identify the food trigger. This is best done under the guidance of a nutrition professional or healthcare practitioner.
Common food triggers include sugar, wheat, soy, and dairy (cow’s milk).
To heal skin and prevent future breakouts, focus on foods that contain plenty of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats like:
- A variety of fruits and vegetables – the more colourful your diet, the better!
- Nuts and seeds, especially flax & chia for the extra dose of omega-3 fats
- Wild-caught salmon
- Lean, grass fed meats
- Whole grains & seeds, like quinoa, oats, and brown rice
COOL TIP: When a breakout occurs, you can use the same healing foods topically to help soothe, hydrate, and cleanse irritated skin.
The foods that are health-optimizing for your insides can also be soothing and calming for the outside!
Healthline – Foods that cause acne
Healthline – Anti-acne diet
Healthline – Symptoms of acne
Soothing DIY Acne Face Mask
¼ cup papaya, mashed
1 Tbsp oatmeal
1 tsp raw honey
2 – 4 drops tea tree oil (or combo tea tree and lavender)
How to prepare
Stir together ingredients in a small bowl. Apply to clean, dry skin (face, neck, shoulders, back – anywhere you have irritated, acneic skin).
Leave on 15-20 minutes, then rinse off completely, and pat dry. And voilà, happily refreshed skin.
* If you choose to “taste” your mask before slathering it on, do NOT ingest if you have added essential oils!
In today’s world, we are constantly on the go, a steady state “busy-ness” is the norm, and we’re always running from one responsibility to the next – literally! So, it’s no wonder that physical fatigue is such a common complaint.
The good news is that there are some really simple (and natural) ways to increase your energy so you can keep up with your busy life.
Get off the blood sugar roller coaster
One of the simplest ways we can boost our energy is to stabilize blood sugar. When we don’t eat enough food throughout the day or when we eat foods that are higher in sugar, our energy levels bottom out.
You can balance your blood sugar, and boost your energy naturally by:
- Eating every 3-4 hours gives your body the nutrients and fuel it needs to keep your blood sugar – and energy levels steady
- Consuming foods that are low on the glycemic index (think fruits and veggies, whole grains) instead of the higher sugar white breads and pastas.
- Eating protein with every meal to slow down the release of carbohydrates into your bloodstream. Protein is broken down and released slower so you’re less likely to have a blood sugar spike and subsequent crash.
You like to move it, move it!
When you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is exercise. However, as hard as it can be to get your butt off the couch, it’s one of the best things you can do to fight fatigue.
And, it turns out that you don’t even have to commit to a long workout!
A California State University study hyperlink to this study: https://web.csulb.edu/misc/inside/archives/vol_58_no_4/1.htm concluded that even a brisk 10-minute walk can increase your energy for up to 2 hours.
So when you feel that afternoon slump coming on, skip the coffee and lace up your running shoes instead.
Up your sleep game
It may seem obvious that lack of sleep causes fatigue. However did you know that the quality of your sleep can have an even bigger impact on your daily energy? Even slight disturbances in our sleep can affect how rested we feel the next day.
Here are a couple of tips for a more restful sleep:
- Avoid tech in the bedroom, or within 1-2 hours of bedtime. Even the small amount of light, especially the blue light emitted from devices, interrupts your body’s circadian rhythm. Your brain still thinks it’s daytime and won’t wind down.
- Avoid caffeine late in the day – or avoid all together if this is a problem for you
- Try to create a regular sleep/wake schedule to help your body develop a sleep routine = good sleep hygiene.
- Dab a bit of calming lavender essential oil on your temples before bed or put a few drops on your pillow. Breathe in the calm.
Before you reach for that coffee or energy drink to perk you up, consider switching to plain old water. While caffeine is usually the first choice for busting out of an energy slump, it can be dehydrating.
And then there’s dehydration. Even mild dehydration impairs our concentration, decreases our mood and zaps our energy.
How do you know if you may be dehydrated?
Check the colour of your urine. If it’s the colour of straw, you’re good to go. If it’s a darker yellow colour, it’s time to drink up.
If you’re still craving a caffeine hit, try the Energizing Matcha Smoothie recipe below.
Matcha gives a longer lasting energy boost than coffee. It doesn’t hit you hard and then cause you to crash. Plus the recipe really is delicious!
Glycemic Index Foundation – https://www.gisymbol.com/about-glycemic-index/
California State University Long Beach, Public Affairs & Publications – https://web.csulb.edu/misc/inside/archives/vol_58_no_4/1.htm
National Sleep Foundation – https://sleepfoundation.org/press-release/what-good-quality-sleep
There may be something lurking within your gut, when and where you least expect it.
You’re probably already in tune with keeping the large intestine healthy, balanced and well- populated with good bacteria (got probiotics?).
But, what about the health of the small intestine that is located before it in the digestive tract?
The truth is, this is where the serious business of nutrient absorption happens before the waste products are sent through to the large intestine or bowel to be expelled.
As you can imagine, there’s quite a slippery slope that ensues when the flora in this critical stretch of digestive highway goes out of balance.
What is SIBO and what are the symptoms?
At its most basic level, SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth is when bacteria or other microorganisms, good or bad, grow out of control in the small intestine – an area that would normally have a low bacterial count, as compared to the large intestine.
Microorganisms setting up shop in this area (colonization) end up damaging the cells lining the small intestine. This is otherwise known as leaky gut or an increase in intestinal permeability.
This, in turn, impairs the digestive process and overall absorption of nutrients which exacerbate nutritional deficiencies, allow toxins, pathogens and undigested protein molecules to enter the bloodstream that then cause widespread inflammation, food sensitivities, autoimmune disorders, and other immune reactions.
The most common symptoms of SIBO are:
- Malabsorption issues and malnutrition
- Weight loss (or gain)
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Abdominal bloating or distention
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Acid reflux or heartburn (GERD)
- Excessive gas or belching
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Skin issues like rashes, acne, eczema and rosacea
- Aches & pains, especially joint pain
As mentioned, one of the biggest concerns with SIBO is that essential nutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fats aren’t being properly absorbed, causing deficiencies of iron, vitamin B12, calcium and in the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K.
What causes SIBO?
According to experts, the causes are not clearly defined but contributing factors to being diagnosed with SIBO can include:
- Metabolic disorders including diabetes
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Injury to the bowel
- Recent abdominal surgery
Celiac disease is also associated with an increased risk for developing SIBO, and can be of particular concern, as it disturbs gut motility leading to poor functioning of the small intestine.
Another common conditions associated with SIBO is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. As a matter fact, studies have found that SIBO occurs simultaneously in more than half of all cases of IBS.
It has even been reported that successful elimination of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine resolves symptoms of IBS too.
The use of certain medications, including immunosuppressant medications, and proton pump inhibitors (acid reflux medications) as well as heavy metal toxicity, low stomach acid, inflammatory diets, and yep, you guessed it, stress – are all thought to be contributors as well.
How can you test for SIBO?
It is typically diagnosed using a breath test in which the patient drinks a sugar-containing drink and exhaled gases are measured.
If there are too many bacteria, excess gases (hydrogen, methane or both) will be produced. It should be noted that the reliability of this test is considered less than ideal, but it’s one of the only methods available at this time.
What’s the treatment for it?
Most holistic health practitioners advise adhering strictly to the “SIBO diet” for at least 2 weeks – which may include any (or all) of the following protocols:
- Herbal antibiotics, including oregano oil
- A low FODMAP, GAPS and/or AIP diet; unfortunately, this includes avoiding garlic & onions
- Stress management; yes, this can help heal your gut!
- Repopulating the good bacteria using probiotics, and then feed with prebiotics
In more severe or persistent cases, a prescription antibiotic may be needed to get the overgrowth under control.
World Journal of Gastroenterology: “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth Syndrome”
World Journal of Gastroenterology: “Irritable Bowel Syndrome and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: meaningful association or unnecessary hype?”
Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: “Gastrointestinal motility disturbances in celiac disease”
A little self-criticism is a normal shared human mental pattern, and can even be healthy for the most part. But, we can also just as easily open the door to that overly vocal “negative nelly” voice in our head.
However, if your negative voice is preventing you from doing what you want or need to do in your life, then it has to get booted back out the door. This kind of mental chatter has no right to set up shop in your mind.
Deeply held negative beliefs, especially when they’re firmly rooted in your unconscious, stress you out, damage relationships and can greatly limit your potential for health and happiness.
If you’re sick of having the same old conversation with negative nelly, then be sure to try some of the ideas I’ve outlined in this article on how you can shift away from this damaging mindset, and finally release yourself of these limiting beliefs.
What are limiting beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are the little, but persistent voices that convince you that you can’t be or do or have something due to a perceived inadequacy in some area of your life or personality.
Your negative nelly narrative usually goes something like this:
I won’t ever be [this]…
I can’t do [that]…
I don’t have [this]…
I don’t deserve to be/have [this]…
And, one really common one that comes up for many people…
I am not good enough.
Let’s change up the narrative you may have been having with yourself for a very long time!
Overcoming negative self-talk and releasing limiting beliefs
Your limiting decisions have shaped everything you do, and they have likely prevented you from seeing opportunities and maybe even discouraged you from trying some things at all.
The good news is that it’s totally possible to permanently change a long-held belief — even the ones that are lifelong.
You only perceive what you believe, so your beliefs shape the very world you live in.
But, when your limiting beliefs come into question, your whole world can experience a shift for the better.
Here are a few ideas to help you silence your inner critic for good!
When you find yourself feeling “stuck”, or repeatedly spinning your wheels on the same speed bumps that life might be throwing your way, it’s always a great idea to seek out the help and guidance of a life coach, counsellor or therapist.
In addition to that, there are several things you can do on your own, in your own time and space…
The first step to releasing limiting beliefs is to shift your thinking into AWARENESS
Time to bring those disempowering thoughts out of hiding! Once you do that, know that you have choice.
However, just simply being aware or having knowledge of them is not enough, it’s just the first step. You must understand and truly believe that you have a choice about how to react to stressful situations.
Possible thinking, not just positive thinking
Your mind is a powerful thing, and when you fill it with thoughts of what’s possible (not just positive), your mindset will start to shift.
When you believe something IS possible, you will notice options and opportunities coming up for you that would simply not have be noticed if you did not believe it was possible.
With repetition, your positive feelings will intensify, the new neural connections will strengthen, and you’ll start to notice just how awesome this new “win” really feels!
Reminding yourself often of these little wins can further shift your mindset and help you embrace the bright side of your perceived “failures” or shortcomings. It also helps to simply accept that you are perfectly imperfect, just the way you are!
If you wouldn’t say it to your friend, don’t say it to yourself
Your limiting beliefs are assumptions you make about reality that often aren’t true. They aren’t helpful, and they certainly don’t serve you or the goals you want to achieve.
Ask yourself: would I say these negative, hurtful and unsupportive words to a friend?
Adopting empowering beliefs such as:
“It is not my job to please everyone else.”
“Just be me. There will never be anyone else like me.”
To swap out your limiting belief with a more empowering one, you’ll need to play a little mind game:
Convince yourself that the value you thought you were getting from the former limiting belief isn’t worthwhile, and that your new empowering belief can serve to fill this void.
Take some time and space that’s all yours
Ensure that you are creating space in your life for these new empowering beliefs. Take action and get into the habit of using your new beliefs as often as possible until they begin to feel comfortable, familiar and routine to you.
Just remember – you have the ability to harness the power of the possible! Overcoming negative self-talk and releasing yourself of limiting beliefs takes commitment, introspection and a good dose of self-confidence to make the necessary changes stick.
There’s the old saying that we view ourselves through a much harsher lens than the rest of world does. So, let’s try to bring our own lens back into focus.
Health.com: 9 Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic
Thrive Global: What are Limiting Beliefs and What Causes Them?
Hormones are like chemical messengers, and govern nearly every cellular action in our body.
While very important, our sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, are actually not essential for our survival.
They’re responsible for sexual functioning and fertility, as well as in more of a “beauty” capacity – keeping our skin, hair & nails vital and youthful looking.
On the other hand, stress hormones (like cortisol & epinephrine, also known as adrenaline) are critical to our survival because they synthesize proteins, maintain cellular electrolyte balance, regulate heartbeat and blood pressure, and transport glucose into our cells – essentially feeding our brain.
These hormones are so crucial, that in times of chronic stress, cortisol (the “hormone of stress”) will be made at the expense of sex hormones. No wonder we can start feeling whacked out at certain stages of life.
So what happens when hormones stop playing well together?
We can often experience a ripple effect, even when there’s a slight hiccup in hormone function.
Also, due to the fact that the interconnected nature of your endocrine system, one hormonal imbalance can lead to an additional one, causing multiple symptoms and overlapping health issues.
The 10 most common signs that you probably have a hormonal imbalance
- Poor sleep – not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep
- Fatigue that’s not alleviated by sleep
- Night sweats and hot flashes
- Resistant excess weight and body fat, especially around the belly
- Low libido or sexual dysfunction
- Acne or other skin issues
- PMS symptoms
- Foggy thinking (brain fog!) and difficulty concentrating
- Mental health issues – depression and anxiety in particular
- Mood changes like irritability and anger
The main causes of hormonal imbalances
While there are many causes, here are the most common ones that have been identified:
- Age and stage of life
- Chronic stress
- Medications (e.g. the Pill)
- Toxins and endocrine disruptors like xenoestrogens
- Poor nutrition and lack of adequate key nutrients
- Blood sugar regulation problems
- Disrupted circadian rhythm
- Chronic inflammation (e.g. leaky gut & digestive system inflammation)
Simple ways to support and rebalance your hormones naturally
Eat whole foods: processed, packaged foods offering little to no nutritive value will also offer little to no fuel for your hormones.
Be sure to eat fresh over packaged foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, and quality sources of free range and grass fed meats and eggs. Also, if tolerated – nuts, seeds, and legumes in moderation.
Grains and dairy may cause or exacerbate hormonal problems for some people.
Eat more good fats: Good fats are essential for hormonal health because sex hormones need fat as a building block – and your body can only use the ones you give it.
Opt for sources of good fats from whole foods, such as avocados, raw nuts & seeds, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, real butter or ghee (grass fed preferable), wild-caught salmon, and free range eggs – yes, you can eat the yolks!
Exercise daily: Working out on a regular basis, engaging in resistance (or strength) training, and incorporating a specific workout called HIIT (high intensity interval training) has been proven to be especially beneficial for keeping our bodies AND our hormones fit.
Better sleep: getting deeper, more restorative sleep can be the key to supporting your hormones, above all other measures (but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the other ones!)
Stress management & self-care: the truth is – stress can be devastating for hormonal health.
We need to equip ourselves to manage the stress and “business” of everyday life through the actions that bring back balance and wellbeing to our bodies AND our minds – like good nutrition, exercise and sleep!
Learn better coping mechanisms (like breathing techniques), practice mindfulness and be sure to engage in daily self-care.
5 steps to changing your body. Struggling to stay on track?
Losing weight can get complicated with so much info out there but it really comes down to these 5 things. Before getting started on that there is something that you’ll need that isn’t on the list that is going to make the biggest difference and that’s getting in the right headspace to take on the following steps. Defining what success looks like and then taking the appropriate steps to move forward. Yes, it will be uncomfortable but change is necessary if you want to hit your goals.
- Are you eating whole foods that have nutritional value and density instead of processed food? Things like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, wild caught fish, organic chicken, grass fed beef, eggs, lentils, nuts instead of most of the food we generally gravitate to that’s salty and sweet. The easiest way to ensure you get the proper food is to prepare your meals ahead of time. If you can’t do that I’d recommend a meal prep service but those can get expensive. Eating whole foods is where we start with our members,
with the goal of making small changes towards a more nutritionally dense menu.
- Calories and energy expenditure. This is why we exercise and need activity, so we can sneak in some extra foods we enjoy, pizza, beer chips without paying the price of putting on weight. If you’re highly active, you have a little more margin to enjoy some of these especially if you’re consistent with your meals 5 days a week. To lose weight you need to create a deficit of 3500 calories to burn a 1lb. of fat. Think about this for a second. If you need to lose 15lbs that’s 52,500 calories. So creating a daily deficit of 250 calories adds up to 1750 calories a week. SO you will burn a pound of fat in 2 weeks. Now add some activity to that 4-5 days a week and you’re speeding up the process and well on your way. Think about that infomercial that promises you’ll lose 6-10 lbs. in 4-6weeks. Not easy but doable IF your nutrition is on point. Exercise alone will not get those results.
Now, I don’t like counting calories because it is tedious but I highly recommend keeping a food log so you can at least guesstimate what you have to adjust if you’re not seeing the results you want. Keeping a food journal is an underrated tool but something that I highly recommend if your progress has stalled so you have a ballpark of calories going in and creating an overall weekly deficit. A note to add as well that not all calories are created equal which is why we want to eat whole nutritious foods.
- Minimizing sugar intake. This goes well with the number one and two. If you have a sweet tooth you’ll have to find alternative. Dark chocolate or certain fruits can curb a sweet tooth without adding too many calories. Worst case there are protein bars now that taste better than ever that help with that. My favorite is Quest S’mores when I’m craving something sweet. Figure out what you need to substitute is you have sugar cravings. Chances are you’re sneaking in calories and sabotaging your weight loss goals.
- Sleeping 7-8 hours. You can eat well exercise 5 days a week or more and then blow it all up by getting 6 hours of sleep or less. This is the sneaky one that most people don’t realize they are missing out on and sabotaging their progress. Lack of sleep can affect hormones such as cortisol. One bad night of sleep can increase your cravings for junk food. Sleep is necessary for recovery, productivity, reducing inflammation and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re trying to lose weight or increase muscle you must prioritize sleep.
- This one is the hardest to do for many people and it is a more advanced technique but once you get over the hump it can be great tool for helping you reset if you’ve had too much too eat over a weekend. Intermittent fasting is another tool in which you have an 8 hour window to get a certain amount of your daily calories in followed by a 12-16hour fast. I would start with 14-16 hour fast and work up to a 24hour fast. The frequency can vary for the 24 hour fast. Some can do once a week while others once a month. Just remember if you intermittently fast daily, to keep your calories in check. Most people will go off hunger and eat more than they normally do.
We tend to overcomplicate this but if you can hit at least 3-4 of these you’re doing great. The process is simple but not easy. Taking action every day or even doing 1% more every day will add up. If you like setting smaller goals this approach works well.
If you’re focused on the bigger picture and can handle doing 2-3 things per week, prioritize getting sleep with consistent meal prep/ appropriate portions, sprinkling in some activity and that combo will take you closer to the getting the results you want.
Ingredients: (Serves One)
– 1 1/2 cups seedless watermelon cubes
– 3 tbsp. water
– 1 tbsp. chia seeds
– 1 slice lime, for garnish
– Sprig of mint, or strawberries, for garnish
1. In a blender, puree watermelon and water until smooth.
2. Stir in chia seeds and let them sit for about 5 minutes (to thicken up).
3. Stir again, and let it thicken for as long as you’d like!
4. Pour into a glass over ice and garnish with lime and sprig of mint or strawberries.
Constipation is the opposite of diarrhea – it’s when stool tends to stick around longer than necessary. Often it’s drier, lumpier, and harder than normal, and may be difficult to pass.
Constipation often comes along with abdominal pain and bloating. And can be common in people with certain gut issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
About 14-24% of adults experience constipation. Constipation becomes chronic when it happens at least three times per week for three months.
Constipation can be caused by diet or stress, and even changes to our daily routine. Sometimes the culprit is a medical condition or medications. And sometimes there can be a structural problem with the gut. Many times the cause is unknown.
Whether you know why or not, there are some things you can do if you get constipated.
1 – Eat more fibre
You’ve probably heard to eat more prunes (and figs and dates) if you get constipated.
Why is that?
It comes down to fibre.
Dietary fibre is a type of plant-based carbohydrate that we can’t digest and absorb. Unlike cows, humans don’t have the digestive enzymes to break it down. And that’s a good thing!
Even though we can’t digest it ourselves, fibre is very important for our gut health for two reasons.
First, fibre helps to push things through our system (and out the other end).
Second, fibre is an important food for feeding the friendly microbes in our gut.
There are two kinds of fibre: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water to make a gel-like consistency. It can soften and bulk up the stool; this is the kind of fibre that you want to focus on for helping with constipation. Soluble fibre is found in legumes (beans, peas, lentils), fruit (apples, bananas, berries, citrus, pears, etc.), vegetables (broccoli, carrots, spinach, etc.), and grains like oats.
Psyllium is a soluble non-fermenting fibre from corn husks. It’s been shown to help soften stools and produce a laxative effect.
Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, holds onto water and can help to push things through the gut and get things moving. It’s the kind found in the skins and seeds of fruits and vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, celery, zucchini, as well as the skins of apples, pears, and potatoes.
It’s recommended that adults consume between 20-35 grams of fibre per day.
If you are going to increase your fibre intake, make sure to do it gradually. Radically canging your diet can make things worse!
And, it’s also very important to combine increased fibre intake with my next point to drink more fluids.
NOTE: There is conflicting evidence on how fibre affects constipation. In some cases, less insoluble fibre may be better, especially if you have certain digestive issues. So, make sure you’re monitoring how your diet affects your gut health and act accordingly. And don’t be afraid to see your healthcare provider when necessary.
2 – Drink more fluids
Since constipated stools are hard and dry, drinking more fluids can help keep everything hydrated and moist. This is especially true when trying to maintain a healthy gut every day, rather than when trying to deal with the problem of constipation after it has started.
And it doesn’t only have to be water – watery foods like soups, and some fruits and vegetables can also contribute to your fluid intake.
Always ensure you’re well hydrated, and drinking according to thirst; this is recommended for gut health as well as overall health.
3 – Probiotics
Probiotics are beneficial microbes that come in fermented foods and supplements. They have a number of effects on gut health and constipation. They affect gut transit time (how fast food goes through us), increase the number of bowel movements per week, and help to soften stools to make them easier to pass.
Probiotic foods (and drinks) include fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut and kimchi), miso, kefir, and kombucha.
More research is needed when it comes to recommending a specific probiotic supplement or strain. If you’re going to take supplements, make sure to read the label to ensure that it’s safe for you. And take it as directed.
4 – Lifestyle
Some studies show a gut benefit from regular exercise.
Ideally, aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes most days.
In terms of stress, when we’re stressed, it often affects our digestive system. The connection between our gut and our brain is so strong, researchers have coined the term “gut-brain axis.”
By better managing stress, we can help to reduce emotional and physical issues (like gut issues) that may result from stress. Try things like meditation, deep breathing, and exercise.
And last but not least – make sure to go when you need to go! Don’t hold it in because that can make things worse.
Optimal digestion is so important for overall health. Constipation is a common problem.
Increasing our fibre and water intake and boosting our friendly gut microbes are key things we can do to help things move along.
And don’t forget how lifestyle habits can affect our physical health! Exercise, stress management, and going to the bathroom regularly can also help us maintain great gut health.
Have you found that fibre, water, or probiotics affect your gut health? What about exercise, stress, and regular bathroom trips? I’d love to know in the comments below!
Recipe (high soluble fibre): Steel Cut Oats with Pears
1 cup steel cut oats, gluten-free
2 cups water
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
2 medium pears, sliced
4 tsp maple syrup
4 dashes cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Toast oats by placing them in a large saucepan over medium-high heat for 2-4 minutes. Make sure to stir them frequently to prevent burning.
Add salt, water, and almond milk to the saucepan of toasted oats.
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes, or until desired tenderness is reached.
Divide into four bowls and top with pears, walnuts, maple syrup, and cinnamon.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: If you want to roast your pears first, place them in a baking dish at 375F for about 10 minutes while you’re cooking the oats.
- 1 lb. beets, washed, peeled and diced
- 1/2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and diced
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
- Beet greens (from 6 beets), chopped
- 5-6 kale leaves, ribs removed, chopped
- 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Handful fresh parsley
- 3-4 fried eggs
- In a fry pan, put in diced raw beets and potatoes with plus enough water to cover them (about 3 cups). Season with salt and bring to a boil and cook for about 7 minutes.
- Drain and set aside the beets and potatoes.
- In the same pan, add olive oil, onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes.
- Add in kale and beet greens, and cook until wilted (2- 3 mins). Set aside.
- Heat oil in the fry pan over med-high heat. Add back potatoes and beets and press firmly into a layer, and allow the veggies to brown. Once crispy, flip to the other side.
- Add kale and beet greens, stirring to combine. Let the entire mixture crisp up for another few minutes.
- Top with 3-4 fried eggs and parsley. Serve immediately and enjoy!!