Let’s talk about the unmentionables…
Can relieving constipation help with weight loss?
And if yes, what foods should you eat to do it safely?
This week I heard a story of an unhealthy, overweight man who followed a raw food detoxification program. In one day he lost 6 kgs and had 12 bowel motions! OMG!! He was losing weight through elimination rather than through fat burning and at an extreme rate.
It made me think: So what is the poo story when it comes to weight loss?
It’s not something you really want to talk about. But, did you know that, how well your bowels are working tells us a lot about your general health. Constipation is associated with poor detoxification, low thyroid function, insufficient fibre and vegetable intake, dehydration, sluggish digestion, poor diet as well as other more subtle conditions. All of these can have a relationship to being overweight.
So, if you suffer with constipation and you want to lose weight, here are some things to consider:
4 key things that contribute to constipation:
1. Insufficient fibre intake
Yeah, yeah, I know already!
But did you know cereal bran out of a packet doesn’t cut it. You need fibre from a variety of sources and both insoluble and soluble types.
According to health website, webmd, soluble fibres attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion. Soluble fibre delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight. Slower stomach emptying may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes.
FACT: Soluble fibres can also help lower LDL (“bad”)
blood cholesterol by interfering with the
absorption of dietary cholesterol.
Sources of soluble fibre: oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots
Insoluble fibers are considered gut-healthy fibre because they have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. These fibres do not dissolve in water, so they pass through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, and speed up the passage of food and waste through your gut. Insoluble fibers are mainly found in whole grains and vegetables.
Sources of insoluble fibre: whole wheat, whole grains, seeds, nuts, barley, brown rice, bulgur, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, grapes, fruit, and root vegetable skins.
FACT: You may not know that animal products
like meat and dairy provide valuable nutrients
in our diet but contain no fibre.
2. Wrong gut bugs!
News flash! Bacteria in people’s digestive systems seem to affect whether they become overweight or obese, and new research sheds more light on why that might be.
The findings, from an international team of scientists, also suggest that a diet high in fibre could change the balance of these bacteria, possibly making it easier for people to shed weight.
The diet of all traditional cultures contained some form of fermented food or foods that helped digestion. Foods such as sauerkraut, kim chee, pickled beetroot, lemon, ginger, apple cider vinegar (click here for my yummy apple cider vinegar drink recipe), etc contain enzymes that help to promote the friendly bacteria in our digestive system and encourage a really healthy gut environment. A healthy gut means we eliminate wastes properly keeping our bodies clean and pure!
FACT: Too much of the wrong kinds of
foods starve our friendly bacteria and can result in
constipation, leading to weight gain.
3. Inadequate fluid intake.
The bowels respond almost instantly to dehydration. They dry up! Drinking 8 glasses of water a day is the very first place to start. I recommend to clients that they have a big glass of water beside their bed to drink first thing in the morning. Put a slice of lemon in it. It’s incredibly cleansing after a night’s detoxification.
4. Sluggish liver function
FACT: Bile secreted by the gall bladder
helps lubricate the bowel, thereby
relieving constipation and improving waste elimination.
Many people address their fluid intake and increase their fibre intake but still the constipation continues. If low thyroid function has been ruled out then the next thing we need to think about is good old bile! Are the liver and the gall bladder being stimulated to secrete sufficient bile to lubricate the bowel?
To improve liver function you need to make sure that you’re regularly eating healthy fats like coconut oil, healthy nuts and seeds, organic butter and avocado. Fats stimulate gall bladder function. Bitter foods also stimulate gall bladder function but we tend to avoid these. Foods like radicchio, artichokes, chamomile tea can be very helpful. If you’re not able, or willing, to eat these foods then consider a supplement. A good liver formula that stimulates bile flow is amazing. Give it a go for 3 weeks at least and see the difference it can make.
Beware the use of laxatives (and that includes coffee!)
If you’ve resorted to laxatives to get you going, be careful! Laxatives are not a long term answer. Incorporating the above suggestions can help you to wean yourself off laxatives which you should seriously consider if you’ve been on them longer than a few weeks. Laxatives can over stimulate the bowel and cause inflammation. You can also become dependent on them. If you’re hooked on laxatives you may need to get yourself to a naturopath to help you wean off them.
Coffee being a diuretic can make the situation worse. Enjoy your coffee if that’s what you like, but don’t use it to get your bowels moving!