Constipation and the Gut Microbiome

Do you have trouble pooping? If you unexpectedly find yourself taking a Number 2 less than once a week, or if your poop is hard to pass and looks like rabbit droppings, you may be suffering from constipation. But don’t worry! Read on for more information and check out some of our simple fixes for your stomach and gut wellness! 


What is constipation?  

A general definition of constipation identifies it as a condition in which stool becomes hard, dry, and difficult to pass, with a general reduction in the frequency of bowel movements. Other symptoms may include painful bowel movements, stomach pain, and feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and sluggish.  

It is estimated that 80% of Singaporeans suffer from periods of constipation, so you are not alone!  

 

Constipation and the gut microbiome  

The gut microbiome is the collection of trillions of bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms found in the gastrointestinal tract. They are largely responsible for digestion, but the gut microbiome has also been found to influence other aspects of your health and overall wellness, beyond just your stomach.  

When it comes to digestion, bacteria break down the food we eat to produce chemicals and other by-products that can be used by our bodies. Depending on the species of bacteria present in our microbiome, these chemicals may be helpful or harmful.  

It is important to have a balanced gut microbiome that is rich in diversity and beneficial bacterial species. An imbalance in the gut microbiome, also known as dysbiosis, can cause negative health and wellness effects, and contributes to conditions like constipation.  

Individuals with chronic constipation are likely to have a vastly different gut microbiome composition compared to individuals who do not suffer constipation. The former may contain a greater concentration of bacteria that produce substances that slow intestinal transit time, for example.  

 

Some quick fixes 

  1. Drink up!
    One common cause of constipation is dehydration – if you are not drinking enough water, the large intestine will absorb most of it from your food waste, resulting in dry, hard stools. Try to drink at least 8 glasses or 2 litres of water or other clear fluids a day. This will help keep your stools softer and easier to pass. Staying hydrated is also key to overall wellness!
  2. Add more fibre to your diet
    Constipation and other bowel issues are closely related to diet. The average Singaporean consumes 12 – 20 grams of fibre each day. This is well below the recommended intake of 25 to 30 grams per day. Dietary fibre is important in ensuring overall digestive health. In general, dietary fibre (particularly insoluble fibre) helps to increase the weight or ‘bulk’ of stool, making it softer and easier to pass. In addition, while the body cannot digest fibre on its own, but it is a great source of energy for the beneficial bacteria in the microbiome. Increasing your fibre intake will therefore help encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut!

Some of our favourite high-fibre foods include:  
- Broccoli 
- Whole grains (like brown rice or oats) 
- Nuts 

  1. Increase your probiotic intake
    Probiotics are live strains of healthy bacteria. They can be found in supplements as well as certain fermented foods like Greek yogurt, kimchi, and tempeh. Probiotics may help to relieve constipation by introducing healthy bacteria to the gut microbiome, encouraging a more balanced gut.

 

Ultimately, constipation is an uncomfortable condition that can affect all of us. Adopting these healthy habits into your everyday routine can help keep constipation at bay. 

Want to know more and find out exactly what your unique microbiome looks like? For a comprehensive analysis of your gut microbiome. Choose the right foods based on what your gut is telling you, dietary recommendations from over 300 specific food recommendations, and over 20 reports on your well-being, get the BIO & ME Gut Health Test today! 

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BIO & ME Team
Your Gut Health Expert