New Year’s Eve is here and what better time to look at the coming year ahead and make resolutions around what you want to achieve – health, wealth, happiness … beating constipation?
The challenge with resolutions is finding ones that you will actually stick to – did you achieve the ones you made for 2013?
In order to do this, they need to be realistic and achievable otherwise you won’t find the motivation to stick to them. I have therefore listed below my top five constipation-beating resolutions which, even if you only do one of them, will be a step in the right direction to helping get your health on track and keeping constipation at bay.
Top five New Year constipation resolutions
1. Drink 8 glasses of water a day
Staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining good health, and will help keep your intestines and stools hydrated to prevent constipation.
Eight glasses of water a day may seem daunting to some of you and look like a lot of water, but in fact when you break it down it is really quite easy to achieve. Have a glass of water as soon as you wake up, before anything else. Keep it on your bedside table so you see it as soon as the alarm goes off. For the remaining seven glasses, it’s then just one glass of water around every 2 hours (based on a typical 13 hour day where you get up at 7am and go to bed at 10pm). You may want to set an alarm on your phone to remind you, or I find keeping a bottle of water in front of you acts as a constant reminder that you can then sip throughout the day.
Try investing in a good, reusable water bottle as this is better for both your health and the environment, and allows your water to be portable ... it's also cheaper in the long run too!
Read more about ‘The importance of water’ here.
2. Eating fibre every day will help keep constipation at bay!
Fibre helps to add bulk to your stools, allowing them to pass through your intestines much more easily and comfortably.
The trick with fibre is finding what sources work for you and your lifestyle. I’ve outlined a few tips for adding more fibre to your daily diet below to help you find one that works for you.
- My number one fibre source would be to add 1-heaped tablespoon of ground flaxseeds to my food at least once a day – cereal, salads, juice, yoghurt, etc. You can now buy ground flaxseeds in most supermarkets as well as health food shops so there’s no excuse not to find some.
- Leave the skin on your vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and potatoes – just give them a good wash.
- Eat one pear and one apple a day, with the skin on! The skin of fruit and vegetables are rich in fibre so it is a shame to peel them.
- Switch to brown bread, brown rice and brown pasta – this will easily increase the fibre in your diet and give you added vitamins and minerals as well.
- Eat one portion of dark green leafy vegetables EVERY day – spinach, kale, watercress, rocket, cabbage, spring greens, Brussels sprouts.
You can find out more about the importance of fibre in ‘Fibre and constipation’.
3. Take a probiotic EVERY DAY
Probiotics support the health of your digestive system by producing specific enzymes that help with the breaking down and digestion of your food, and the absorption of key vitamins and minerals into the bloodstream for use by the body.
- Don’t buy the drink versions that you can find in the supermarket – these are very limited in their function, and can be high in sugar and dairy, neither of which are very good for your digestive system if you have constipation.
- Invest in a good brand that has a high number of probiotic cultures per capsule – I’m talking billions, not millions! You can read more about their benefits here.
- Look for one that doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge as well – if it’s in the fridge you’ll forget it’s there and won’t take them.
- Keep your probiotics where you can see them – A good location could be on the counter with your other daily supplements or by your keys so you remember to take them before going out the door in the morning. Or you may want to keep them on your desk at work by the phone (that’s where I keep my multi-vitamin) or in your handbag.
I love OptiBac Probiotics 'For every day' (For daily wellbeing) – two capsules a day, , and during times of sluggish bowels Bifidobacteria & fibre (For maintaining regularity) is my top probiotic recommendation.
4. Move more!
Find a way to fit exercise into your life – no excuses!
Whether it’s walking to the shops, getting off the bus a stop or two earlier, walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift or trying a new sport, exercise is vital to good health and also plays a crucial part in helping to keep constipation at bay.
Exercise helps to keep your bowels moving, thereby allowing your stools to pass more effectively through the intestines, and is one of the cheapest, most natural constipation remedies. You don’t need to pay expensive gym fees (I haven’t been a member of a gym for years!), but look at your lifestyle and find ways to fit it in. Those 20 minutes you may spend on Facebook or playing Candy Crush could be used to walk around the block!
5. Do something just for you, for five minutes EVERY DAY!
Easier said than done I know, but we all try and do too much these days which just creates stress, both mentally and physically, and as you know, stress is bad for your health and can cause constipation. Take a look at ‘Can stress cause constipation?’ to find out more.
Just five minutes every day, do something that is just for you – have a bath (granted, this may take slightly longer than 5 minutes, the longer the better!), read a book, go for a walk, have a cup of tea and read the paper or do nothing – whatever it is, the more you can start paying attention to you and tuning in to me-time the better you will feel for it, and your body will start to respond accordingly.
Set the timer, find your me-time and off you go – I don’t believe that you can’t find just five minutes a day. Get up five minutes earlier if you have to!