A Cup Of A Gut Health Drink

What’s causing your constipation symptoms and what can you do about it?

Bloating is a common constipation symptom and can be painful and uncomfortable, making your clothes feel tight. Get constipation relief and ease the pressure with our advice below.

Why is my stomach bloated?

When you suffer from constipation there tends to be a lot of gas in the bowel that can’t be expelled properly, leading to bloating.

Pre-menstrual bloating is common, and this is due to changes in hormone levels. In the build-up to a period, the surge in the hormone progesterone tends to relax everything in the body so the bowel becomes much more sluggish, and less likely to push the motions through and out the other end. It’s also the reason why women get constipated during pregnancy.

Bloating can be a symptom of some specific gut health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), characterised by stomach cramping, constipation or diarrhoea, or alternating between both.

What causes constipation?

Our genes control how we react to body changes. For instance, some women are more sensitive than others to fluctuations in hormones that lead to bloating and constipation during their menstrual cycle.

Stress also has an effect. When we’re stressed and anxious, we often turn to unhealthy comfort food, which takes longer to digest. We’re also less likely to be active, which slows down the action of the bowel leading to constipation. In some people, stress also directly slows down the activity of the bowel.

What can provide constipation relief?

  • Eat more fibre. It produces gas but also keeps the bowel moving – most of us don’t eat enough fibre, so up your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, and wholegrain foods.
  • Drink lots of liquid, but not fizzy or alcoholic drinks. Also, eat slowly and don’t talk while eating, to avoid swallowing excess air.
  • Take plenty of activity and keep stress under control.
  • Respond to the call of Mother Nature straight away. If not, you can lose the urge to go, and stools and gas build up.

Remember, if your bloating is persistent, or if it’s associated with pain, fever or vomiting, or nothing you have tried is working, see your GP.

What are the best constipation remedies?

If you think your bloating is due to pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), try peppermint to disperse gas. For fluid retention with PMS, try evening primrose oil, or vitamins E and B6.

Exercise more and limit caffeine. Try psyllium husks, which act as a gentle laxative, or friendly bacteria to help regulate gas production.

One of the best ways to ease symptoms after a meal is with a tea: peppermint is known as an anti-acid and a digestive aid, while chamomile is a great stress soother.

This article has been adapted from longer features appearing in Healthy, the Holland & Barrett magazine. Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies