Simple constipation treated by diet
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client name and identifying information changed
When I say ‘simple constipation’ I refer to the fact that this case of constipation was not hindered by other issues such as hormones, parasites or allergies. In this particular case study, it was purely a case of my client not eating the right foods to suit her body.
Suzy came to me saying that she had suffered from constipation for most of her life. We conducted lots of stool tests, mineral and hormonal tests and while there were some minor issues which we addressed, at the end of it all she was still constipated.
Suzy previously had a colonoscopy that showed everything looked fine on the inside, otherwise I may have thought there was an obstruction from a tumour. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, but her bowel length was longer than average, which meant the transit time from mouth to anus was longer than normal.
Suzy’s diet was quite good with plenty of fibre rich foods. There were days when she would eliminate normally and at other times would have no bowel movements for days or even a week at a time. She drank lots of water and exercised most days, so she seemed to tick all the boxes.
With Suzy’s food sensitivity tests, all that showed was a slight reaction to gluten and to eggs (mainly the whites). She had already eliminated gluten from her diet some time before due to previous strong reactions. Suzy then recalled how she reacted to an all egg-white omelette with a severe headache that lasted for days. She went off eggs for a while but her bowels problems remained the same.
We decided to try something different and that was to create a routine. The body, especially the bowel, loves a routine. We discussed having regular times for waking, sleeping and meals.
We also made her diet more regimented with breakfasts of a blended seed porridge with home-made almond mylk with berries (to increase soluble fibres), a lunch of salad with either seafood or chicken, and dinners with loads of vegetables, stir-fried or steamed, with a sprinkle of chopped nuts and seeds or fish/seafood or chicken livers (rich in B12, choline, zinc and B6 but easy to digest).
I asked Suzy to lay off the eggs (nice pun) for the time being. We didn’t include red meat as she already knew this made her even more constipated and we kept heavy proteins to a minimum, but enough for her needs.
After 3 days Suzy was going to the toilet and pooing every single day, sometimes twice per day. This was an amazing transformation for her.
We then decided that she could try eggs once a week, but she was constipated the following day, so eggs were dropped from her diet.
No eggs plus soluble fibre for breakfasts (consistently) made all the difference. I added the word ‘consistently’ because if she had anything different for breakfast, there were no visits to the loo the next day and sometimes the day after.
Routine, not eating reactive foods (even mild), plenty of good soluble fibre, low GI fruits, water and exercise were the keys to her consistent visits to the loo and a happy, less bloated and slimmer Suzy.
This case study highlights the importance of looking at more than one reason for constipation. In other clients, constipation has been the result of a combination of things such as hormones e.g. thyroid or serotonin levels (happy hormones), parasites and diet. Often these factors can create a vicious cycle as one affects the other and so on.
If you can consult with a health practitioner experienced with constipation, then you will have a better chance of ‘working it out’. While there are some great laxatives and also vitamin C and magnesium that can help to clear the bowel and keep you regular, it’s still best if you can work out the causes and cure your constipation naturally.