If you’re having trouble passing daily stools, experiencing pain while defecating or have abdominal discomfort related to infrequent bowel motions, chances are you’re experiencing constipation. Ideally, we should be having a bowel motion at least once per day – it should be easy to pass and leave us feeling like the process is complete.
Throughout pregnancy, constipation can be quite common due to the hormonal changes occurring within your body. Constipation is uncomfortable, but the great news is that we can help to prevent and alleviate it by making fibre our friend.
So, what is fibre? Fibre is a part of plant foods that our body is unable to digest. Its primary role is to keep the digestive tract healthy, and it passes through to our intestines relatively unchanged. You can think of fibre as a broom, sweeping everything along your digestive tract and keeping things moving.
Sources of dietary fibre
Dietary fibre can be found in certain plant foods, and some of the best sources include wholegrains, legumes, seeds, fruits and vegetables.
Wholegrains such as brown rice, spelt, rye, barley, buckwheat and quinoa are all great sources of fibre. The less refined a product is, the more fibre it is likely to contain. It’s always recommended that you go for the wholemeal or less refined option where available.
Legumes include beans, lentils and peas. These foods are a great source of dietary fibre and can easily be incorporated into meals for their many benefits.
We all know how important fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables are for our health. What’s great is that they are also beneficial when it comes to increasing our fibre intake. The best way to maximise the amount of fibre that we’re getting from our fruit and vegetables is to leave the skin on. The skin increases the amount of fibre that is present within these foods because some of the total fibre content of these foods is found in the skin itself. Instead of peeling your fruit and vegetables, just give them a good wash. Of course, there are some fruits and vegetables that you don’t want to be eating the skin of, like avocado, pineapple, banana, garlic and onion, so use your discretion when choosing which to peel and which to simply wash.
Last but certainly not least, seeds are also a great source of dietary fibre. Two of the most notable are chia seeds and flaxseeds, also known as linseed. Include these into your diet for an added boost.
Getting the maximum benefits from fibre
Increasing your water intake is important alongside increasing your fibre intake. This will ensure that everything can move through your digestive tract efficiently and support regular bowel motions. Be sure to stay hydrated by aiming to drink around 2 litres of water per day. Your water requirements do vary based on you as an individual and should take into consideration your body weight, activity level and the climate/temperature of the place that we live.
Focusing on a high-fibre diet is one of the best things we can do for the treatment and the prevention of constipation. By simply making fibre our friend, we help to ensure that everything can move along as normal and we are supporting the health of our gut. Try incorporating a source of fibre into every meal to reap the rewards.