Do you dream of a world in which your bowel movements are effortless and where you hardly even have to wipe? This world exists and it is within your reach with the right tools, strategies, foods and supplements.
Constipation is typically associated with low-fibre diets, not drinking enough water and low activity levels (1), but in this article, we're getting laser-focused on constipation and nutrition.
Let's explore three nutrients you can try for effortless bowel movements.
Contents:Bonus Nutrient: Healthy Fats
Most people have heard about probiotics to help improve gut health but have you heard of prebiotics? Good gut health and effortless bowel movements require prebiotics. Prebiotics are fibres that feed the good bacteria (probiotics) in your gut and help them grow.
Intestinal dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in your gut microbiome (the trillions of microorganisms in your digestive tract), has been associated with poor gut health and constipation (2). So how do you fix intestinal dysbiosis?
Well, you need to starve the bad bacteria, increase the good bacteria by consuming probiotics (3), and then include prebiotics to feed the good bacteria and help them grow and repopulate your gut.
Prebiotics are fermented by bacteria in the gut, creating short-chain fatty acids, which can then help with constipation relief by improving mucus production, improving the integrity of the intestinal barrier and reducing gut inflammation (2)(4).
One study showed that when people took prebiotics, they saw an increase in bowel movement frequency, stool consistency, and other constipation-related symptoms (5).
Here are some tips for consuming more prebiotics daily for more effortless bowel movements:
- Get prebiotics from various foods, as well as supplements. Foods that are great sources of prebiotics include garlic, onions, artichokes, leeks, and bananas. Also, include a variety of prebiotic foods to help fuel different gut bacteria and promote diversity.
- Take prebiotic supplements for peace of mind and to make it easy to get all the prebiotics you need. Try our prebiotic supplement, Prebiotic Collagen Protein. Not only do you get a good dose of prebiotics when taking this supplement, but you also get collagen, which can help improve gut health further by reducing damage to your gut lining and helping to repair leaky gut (6).
If you struggle with constipation and your bowel movements are far from effortless, including enough fibre in your diet can make a huge difference and increase stool frequency (7). There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre can be dissolved while insoluble fibre cannot be absorbed by your body but it does help to clean out your digestive system by drawing water to your colon.
Dietary fibre can accelerate colon transit time if you have slow-transit constipation, therefore increasing the frequency of your bowel movements (8).
But too much of a good thing can be bad. Many people don't realise this but too much fibre can also make you constipated (9). Think of fibre as a bulking agent for your stool. If you consume too much fibre and too little water, it can fill up and block your intestine and make you constipated, resulting in more difficult bowel movements. Always make sure that you drink enough water when consuming high-fibre foods to help it pass through your system effortlessly.
- As a rule of thumb, you can include one or two sources of fibre with every meal and snack. Starting to consume fibre earlier in the day will ensure that you get all the fibre you need without having to cram everything in at one meal at the end of the day. It is also better to space out your fibre over the day as having too much at once can make you feel overfull and constipated.
- Add different sources of fibre to your diet for variety. Great sources of fibre include apples, prunes, artichokes, figs, avocados, and bananas (10) (11).
- Choose whole foods like fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods. Processed foods are usually low in fibre, while whole foods are generally higher in fibre.
- Choose smoothies over juices because the fibre is removed when making juices but kept with smoothies.
Magnesium is a magical mineral for those struggling with digestive issues. If you are constipated, a lack of magnesium could be to blame. Magnesium can have a laxative effect and thereby help relieve constipation and make bowel movements effortless (12).
As we said before, a lack of water can make you constipated. What magnesium does is help to pull water into your intestine and clear out your colon.
But don't just take any type of magnesium you can find on the shelf. You get different forms of magnesium, each with its own special powers. Types of magnesium that promote effortless bowel movements and a healthy digestive system include magnesium citrate, magnesium sulphate and magnesium oxide (13) (14).
Magnesium glycerophosphate, on the other hand, has the least laxative effect and should not be your first choice.
Here are some tips for getting enough magnesium in your diet:
- Eat magnesium-rich foods like avocado, dark chocolate, salmon, bananas and yoghurt.
- Take a magnesium supplement every day, choosing between magnesium citrate, sulphate and oxide to treat constipation.
Ensure you eat enough fat to also help things move along and make your bowel movements effortless (15). If you struggle with constipation, you don't want to be on a very low-fat diet as the digestive system needs some fat to function optimally. Fat is essential for healthy gut motility. Here are some tips to help you get enough fat:
- Include healthy fat sources in your diet like fatty fish, olives, olive oil, avocados, egg yolks, ghee and grass-fed beef.
- Go for full-fat options when it comes to dairy products and skip the low-fat alternatives, choose fattier cuts of meat instead of always going for lean meats and eat whole eggs and not just egg whites.
- Use healthy fats like butter, tallow, avocado oil or ghee when cooking your food.
- Add at least one source of fat per meal to help you get enough throughout the day.
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