This month the focus is around the colon and maintaining healthy gut motility to ensure the fast removal of toxic waste. It is well known that a sluggish bowel and constipation has the ability to create a myriad of negative health issues, and given that it is bowel cancer awareness month, it is a timely reminder of how important a healthy functioning bowel is.
Dietary fibre is crucial in many areas of the gastrointestinal tract and in health in general. It improves gastrointestinal motility ensuring the fast and efficient removal of toxins, which not only keeps your bowel healthy but will keep your skin glowing too. Fibre promotes satiety, leaving you feeling fuller for longer, perfect for those of you who struggle with weight or appetite control. It has proven benefits in reducing the risk of heart disease, fibre is shown to prevent bile acids from recycling back through the liver, thus lowering cholesterol levels. It supports and promotes healthy bacteria in the small intestine helping to boost digestive function, absorption of nutrients, reduces inflammation and improves the body’s immune system.
Fibre is found in many foods and eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is an excellent start to ensuring you are getting enough fibre. However, fibre is also found in considerable quantities in complex carbohydrates such as legumes, quinoa, oats, barley, rye, whole grain cereals and breads. Consuming legumes such as chick peas, lentils, borlotti beans, and black beans, will give you a healthy dose of fibre in just one serve. Additionally, if consuming loads of these foods isn’t necessarily your thing, then adding fibre such as psyllium husk, inulin or partially hydrolysed guar gum to smoothies, cereals, pancakes or muffins will top up your fibre intake and boost the health of your gut.
Psyllium husk is a soluble fibre that is able to retain water in the small intestine, this increases water flow into the large intestine, allowing fecal matter to move through for easy elimination. Psyllium husk is an excellent preventative measure for constipation; however, it can also work very well in the treatment of it too. Remember to drink plenty of water because psyllium swells, if there isn’t enough water in the bowel it can become a hard mass further exacerbating constipation.
Inulin is derived from the Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus). It is a fructan, which is a particular polysaccharide, closely related to fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS) carbohydrate which is a fibre and prebiotic found in many plants.
Partially hydrolysed guar gum (PHGG) is a natural water-soluble dietary fibre derived from guar gum. Guar gum is extracted from guar beans from the Cyamopsis tetragonolobus plant. PHGG is obtained by the controlled partial enzymatic hydrolysis of guar gum and has several health benefits, including fibre to assist bowel motility.
Eating a well-balanced diet with lots of fresh seasonal foods; regular, daily exercise; ensuring adequate rest and keeping stress to a minimum or at least under control are all important factors in keeping your bowel and digestive tract healthy. Remember to see your doctor or health practitioner if you are experiencing any symptoms such as any changes in bowel motions eg constipation, diarrhoea or incomplete emptying, abdominal pain, cramping or bloating, rectal pain, blood or mucous in stools, unexplained weight loss, or fatigue.