This week is Gut Week – the national digestive health awareness campaign, which is now in its 15th year.
Gut Week aims to raise awareness and educate people on the importance of their digestive system, offering support and advice for symptoms and ailments that some people may be suffering from, including constipation.
To launch this year’s campaign, Gut Week have done interesting research into the state of the nations eating habits, some of which I have listed below, but then I have also looked at how some of these eating habits could be contributing to your constipation.
23% of women most regularly snack on fruit
This is great as fruit is full of fibre (particularly fruit with their skins on such as apples, pears and prunes) as fibre is essential for any constipation sufferer. It helps to bulk up the stools and keep things moving through the intestines, preventing any build-up or blockages, which can lead to constipation.
However, 23% is low – that’s around 2 in 10 people! Take you and 9 of your friends – are you one of the 2 who regularly snack on fruit, or one of the 8 who don’t? Start grabbing more fruit as a snack and your digestive system will thank you for it.
23% of men, on the other hand, prefer biscuits!
Biscuits are full of sugar and have no fibre at all, which makes them inflammatory and a possible contributing factor to constipation. My recent blog on ‘Foods that cause constipation’ discusses this in more detail. Be like the girls and start snacking on more fruit!
Eating breakfast in 5 minutes or less
This varies slightly on where you live apparently:
- 22% of Londoners
- 24% of those in Manchester
- 38% of people from Leeds
Eating this fast means that you are not chewing your food properly, which can then easily lead to constipation. Your food will be swallowed in larger pieces, which means the stomach has to work harder at breaking the food down for absorption, but also you’ll get undigested food in your stools.
This undigested food may then cause constipation as it creates unnecessary bulk but also means that the intestines are put under pressure to keep the stools moving along the bowels, and unless you are properly hydrated or getting enough fibre this may easily start to cause a blockage and lead to constipation, as well as cramps, bloating and possible pain.
I know we’re all busy, but the more time you spend eating your breakfast the more likely you are to have regular bowel movements and less constipation.
44% enjoy their dinner while watching TV
Sitting in front of the TV means that you are not concentrating on what you are eating. You are therefore more likely to eat too quickly (as discussed above), as well as over-eat, as you are not allowing your brain to register the fact that you are eating, and therefore feel full, which usually contributes to weight-gain over a sustained period.
For constipation sufferers though, eating in front of the TV will generally mean that you have poor posture while you eat as most people sit or hunch over a plate or tray on the sofa. This poor posture means that all your digestive system is scrunched up, preventing it from working effectively and food flowing easily and freely through the stomach and into the intestines which can lead to cramping, bloating and/or constipation.
78% have a snack after dinner at least once a week
The occasional snack is fine, but why are you snacking and what are you snacking on? Snacking after a meal would usually suggest it’s a sweet treat, and sweet = sugar, which is inflammatory, and can cause an imbalance in the digestive system, leading to symptoms including bloating and constipation.
As for the why, perhaps you were sitting in front of the TV or ate too quickly which means that your brain was distracted and hasn’t registered the fact that you’ve eaten, which then leads to weight gain.
Allow yourself at least half an hour, if not longer, before you snack after a meal, and if you are then still needing something sweet grab a piece of fruit and get that all important fibre as well as lots of gut-healthy vitamins and minerals.
It may sound simple, but just taking your time and allowing yourself the opportunity to actually taste your food, as well as chewing it properly will instantly help your digestive system and help prevent constipation, as well as other digestive complaints.
These are just a few of the stats that are on the Gut Week website which is www.loveyourgut.co.uk, where you will also find additional advice and information on looking after your all important gut.
You may also like to read ‘Fibre and constipation’ as well as ‘Are your eating habits causing constipation?’ to help you make the right food and lifestyle choices when it comes to looking after your digestive system.