Beat constipation by: Eating 35-50g of fibre daily.

Beat constipation by: Eating 35-50g of fibre daily.

Before the advent of antibiotics people were more dependent on keeping their bodies and colons healthy. It was in this time, in the early 1900s, that Dr Kellogg showed a direct correlation between fibre intake and colon health through his work. Since then the beneficial effects of fibre have been well documented.

Studies on the bowel habits of primitive people groups eating a natural diet show that they eat far more fibre than we do. Primitive people eat up to 55g of fibre a day whilst the average fibre intake on a modern diet is less than 20g. Can you see a problem here? The bowel transit time (the time taken to move a meal through the gut) of a native tribesman was shown to be more than twice as fast as an average modern man. The native people also showed a very low incidence of digestive diseases including constipation, colon cancer and IBS.

Fibre is the indigestible part of plant products i.e. fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, legumes etc. Although indigestible, fibre plays a crucial role in the digestive process. Benefits of fibre include: –

  • It absorbs water and bulks up the stool. Bulk places pressure against your gut wall thereby stimulating peristalsis, the wavelike contractions of the gut that pushes food through the gut. The greater the bulk, the greater the stimulation.
  • Speeding up the passage of food through the gut, this means toxins are flushed out faster and there is less time for food matter to putrefy.
  • It acts like a broom ‘sweeps’ or cleans the intestines
  • It slows down the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, thereby helping to stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • It keeps people feeling fuller longer, thereby decreasing the tendency to eat too much.
  • It decreased the absorption of cholesterol.
  • Mucilaginous fibre, a water soluble fibre that forms a mucous-like gel, is particularly beneficial for speeding up the passage of food through the gut. In addition to this, mucilaginous fibre is soothes inflamed tissue in the gut. This form of fibre can be found is flaxseeds, slippery elm, pectin (in apples and pears) and marshmellow root.

Aim for at least 35-50g of fibre per day. You can easily get to 35g by eating a natural diet high in fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Click here for a fibre content of common foods. If you eat a more refined diet you can try taking a fibre supplement with meals. Popular forms of supplemental fibre include wheat bran, psyllium husks, rice bran, oat bran, pectin, flax seeds, chia seeds, fructo-oligosaccharides and cellulose. We do not recommend wheat bran as many people are allergic and it tends to irritate the gut. Psyllium husks may also not suit some people for long term use as it may cause bloating. Experiment until you find the fibre that is works best for you.

If your body is not used to a high fibre diet you may experience gas and/or bloating until your body adapts to your new diet. We therefore recommend that you increase your fibre content slowly and remember to drink enough water to lessen any discomfort.