Diet and lifestyle have a very important role to play and this blog aims to briefly explain the main elements involved.
Conventional advice is to increase fibre to help constipation, so sufferers with bunged up bowels head to switch to wholemeal bread, pasta, brown bread, bran etc. However it is important to know that fibre is not one entity and increasing it too quickly can have a negative effect on symptoms. There are two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble, and these act differently on the gut and its function, hence choosing the right type of fibre for your symptoms is an important consideration. Although most carbohydrates have both type of fibre, some have higher proportion of soluble fibre and others have more insoluble fibre. It would be rare to find a natural source that has either soluble or insoluble fibre.
Constipation is disruption in normal bowel routine. This can be due to many factors such as diet and lifestyle that lack the elements that promote regular bowel movement, some diseases or medications or change in number of gut bacteria. Majority of times constipation is transient and can be helped by following dietary and lifestyle changes. Sometimes constipation can be quite refractory to treatment and the above measures don’t help. If possible seeking advice from a gastroenterologist, arranging a hydrogen/methane breath test to check if there is imbalance of bacteria can help pinpoint specific reason behind constipation. If there is imbalance of bacteria or the constipation is a part conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), an exclusion diet such as low FODMAPs under guidance of a specialist Dietitian can be very effective.