A pain in the gut

Dietitian Geraldine Georgiou explains how introducing fibre into your diet can help maintain a healthy and regular lifestyle

Almost one in six people over the age of 30, suffer from constipation at some point in their life. This statistic should not come as a shock as the typical Australian diet does not contain the minimum recommended 30g of fibre needed for normal bowel movements.

Many foods are rich in fibre and should make up part of our daily diet routine, starting with breakfast. Breakfast cereals can be high in fibre and will get you off to a great start.

A diet low in fibre can often lead to constipation. Most people will suffer from constipation at different points in their life. This can be brought on by travel, stress, dietary change and altered work patterns which can all interrupt an otherwise regular bowel pattern. It is recommended you recognise the cause of the change in the pattern and correct it where possible.

In many cases the first, and usually the only step required, is to ensure an adequate intake of dietary fibre from a wide variety of sources, including fruits and vegetables and wholegrain products. If you need to introduce or increase the level of fibre in your diet, you should always do this gradually. Bloating is a common problem, especially in women, and a sudden increase in the volume of fibre in your diet could aggravate your gut – causing bloating. High fibre foods generate gas and your gut needs to get used to this.

It is recommended that as part of your total fibre intake of 30g per day, you should consume at least six grams of this total from wholegrain fibre per day.

In food terms this is equivalent to three or four slices of wholegrain bread or two slices of wholegrain bread and a serve of wholegrain cereal.

If purchasing the following foods choose the wholegrain options:
•    Wholegrain or wholemeal bread
•    Wholegrain or high fibre breakfast cereal
•    Rolled oats or porridge
•    Wholegrain crispbreads
•    Wholegrain rice cakes
•    Brown rice
•    Wholemeal pasta

Enjoying a balanced diet is an effective way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If constipation symptoms persist, it is important to note that increasing your daily fibre intake is not going to alleviate symptoms. Increasing your fibre when you have constipation can sometimes cause further problems.

Talk to your GP or a pharmacist. Sometimes the use of a laxative is all that is required to overcome constipation. Where constipation is quite severe and persistent, stimulant laxatives, which increase the activity of the bowel muscles, can be a useful option. Talk to an expert to find out which one will offer you the best relief.

To find out further information on constipation, your digestive system, keeping regular and laxatives available,  please visit www.doculax.com.au.

Geraldine Georgeou, Dietician, Designer Diets

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