Monday, December 11, 2023

Is your GI motility up to speed?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Do you wake up, empty your bladder, and need to drink your cup of tea, maybe smoke a cigerette or down a litre of water awaiting the much awaited “sensation?” For some this struggle (especially as we add on years) is a reality.

A regular cycle of emptying the bowel can be problematic for some for a multitude of reasons. If you are one of the unfortunate strugglers, this article is just for you.

 Why must you poop? (love this universal slang for emptying your bowel)

Pooping is so important for your digestive health and in turn your overall health. Irregular bowel movements or constipation can cause a lot of discomfort and health issues if it goes unaddressed. While there are common over the counter quick fixes like laxatives, stool softeners, suppositories and fibre supplements- tackling the issue in a natural and sustainable way is always the better option.

Eating fibre-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, probiotics, whole grains, legumes and pulses is good for your gut and promotes healthy, regular bowel movements.

Fibre is key- it increases the amount of stool you pass, it softens your stool, decreases the time you spend on the pot and your dependancy on laxatives.

 How does fibre help you poop?

Dietary fibre is also known as roughage. It’s the part of the food you eat that your body can’t digest and absorb. Fibre passes through your intestines undigested which helps form and soften your stool to pass seamlessly.

There are two types of fibre-

  • Soluble fibre– this type of fibre absorbs water and has a gel-like consistency, which is responsible for softening stool and accelerating its movement through the intestines. Soluble fibre also helps reduce your cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels.
  • Insoluble fibre- this type of fibre passes through your digestive tract as is. Its what helps to add bulk to your stool and presses on the digested food to pass through the intestines easily and frequently.

Including a mix of soluble and insoluble fibre in your diet is recommended to help reduce constipation, bloating, and gas.

Foods that will help your bowel movements —

From the fruit family —

Plums-prunes-Apples-Pears-Figs-Mangoes-Ripe Banana, Grapes-raisins, Kiwi, papaya, avacado.

All of theses fruit contain the natural form of insoluable fibre pectin, sorbitol or enzyme ficain (known for their laxative properties) along with the water content (which dry fruit lack, hence opt for fresh fruit over dry fruit) this together soften your stool and quickens the journey to the exit.

Added information —

– Keep the skin on the fruit whenever possible, it houses the maximum fibre.

– A serving of five prunes contains 4g of fibre in the form of pectin and sorbitol best remedy.

– Pears are high in fibre, sorbitol and fructose which is slowly absorbed in limited amounts by your blood because a large amount of it is metabolised by your liver. The unabsorbed sorbitol and fructose helps loosen your stool.

– Figs contain an enzyme called ficain, which helps with pooping.

Grapes and raisins are fabulous constipation warriors. Full of fibre and water but, high in sugar content, something to be aware of.

The key to eating bananas is to eat the ripe ones. Ripe bananas are packed with  constipation-easing fibre and help you poop whereas unripe bananas contain starch which can actually aggravate constipation. Pick bananas that are fully yellow or slightly browning.

From the vegetable family-

Cabbage, Sauerkraut and kimchi, Leafy greens, ladyfinger(bhindi), Ginger, brocolli, beans

Vegetables even though they dont contain the same amount on insoluable fibres like fruit, they have fibre in bulk and load the pressure on the food in the digestive track to pass quickly through your digestive track.

 Added information —

– Sauerkraut and kimchi are fermented cabbage dishes which are full of probiotics. The probiotics present in these dishes aid boost gut health and can help alleviate constipation issues.

Greens such as spinach, brussels sprouts, kale and arugula are not only rich in fibre but also full of folate, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin K. These dark and leafy greens help add bulk to your stool which helps it pass through your digestive tract.

– The slimy centre in ladyfinger is premixed water and soluble fibre which softens your stool and helps get rid of constipation issues.

Ginger is a digestive aid which helps ease bloating and constipation.

– Broccoli contains sulforaphane which protects the gut and aids in digestion.

Most varieties of beans have good amounts of soluble and insoluble fibre, which can help you regulate your bowel movements.

From the nut and seed family-

Nuts- almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts and Seeds- flaxseeds, chia seeds are excellent sources of soluable fibre that promote bowel movement. A must in your daily diet, but make sure you wash them down with alot of water due to its dry consistancy.

 Added information —

– Nuts are also rich in nutrients and minerals.

– Flaxseeds are high in polyunsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acid and soluble fibres. ground flaxseeds are much better absorbed than the whole seed.

– Chia seeds are not only high in fibre, but they’re also rich in protein as well. It can elevate a low fibre meal to a high fibre one.

From the lentil family —

Green peas, Chickpeas (kabuli channa) Lentils (dal)

Its a double whammy for these foods, plant protien as well insoluable fibre.

 Added information —

– Green Peas contain soluble and insoluble fibre which helps to soften and add bulk to your stool.

Adding a bowl of lentils to your meal increases the  production of butyric acid, a fatty acid found in your colon which helps with digestion and pooping.

 From the oil family —

Olive oil, peppermint oil, avacado oil, flaxseed oil have a mild laxative effect. They coat the walls of the instestines enabling smoother movement in the digestion process.

 Added information —

Olive oil is high in healthy fats good for your heart.

A warm cup of peppermint tea or hot water with a few drops of peppermint oil will help reverse constipation, ease nausea and even alleviate any stomach pains. Peppermint relaxes the muscles along your intestines and allows food to move through faster.

 From the grain family —

Brown rice (husked) oat bran, oat meal,

Choose the husk over refined white rice. It has more fibre and nutrients. The husk adds extra fibre to your diet which pushes down the food through your intestines and out your rectum.

 Added information —

Oat bran is the outer casing of the oat grain. It is richer in fibre than plain oats but oats shouldnt be discounted either. Although oatmeal and oat bran come from the same oat groat, they vary in texture and taste.

 Others —

Yogurt, kefir, coffee, water.

Yogurt is a good source of probiotics, live bacteria and yeasts whereas kefir is a fermented milk beverage that contains probiotics. Both these probiotic substances ease constipation and help regulate your bowel movements.

Even though coffee does not have any fibre it can help with your bowel movements. Caffeine increases gastrointestinal motility by helping your gut muscles contract and notify your brain than you need to use the loo. Dehydration is a common cause of constipation. Water is a natural lubricant that softens the stool and helps resolve constipation symptoms.

 Added information —

– Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that do wonders for your gut health and soften your stool. Incorporate yogurt and kefir in your diet if you struggle with constipation.

A fresh cup of joe might kill two birds with one stone when it comes to starting your morning.

– Lemon water and coconut water also aid in digestion and pooping.

Final Note — “ ’You don’t need brains to be a Boss.’

When the body was first created, all the parts wanted to be Boss.

The brain said, “I should be Boss because I control all of the body’s responses and functions.”

The feet said, “We should be Boss since we carry the brain about and get him to where he wants to go.”

The hands said, “We should be the Boss because we do all the work and earn all the money.”

Finally, the asshole spoke up.

All the parts laughed at the idea of the asshole being the Boss.

So, the asshole went on strike, blocked itself up and refused to work.

Within a short time —

The eyes became crossed,

The hands clenched,

The feet twitched,

The heart and lungs began to panic,

The brain fevered.

Eventually, they all decided that the asshole should be the Boss,

So the motion was passed.

All the other parts did all the work while the Boss just sat and passed out the shit!”

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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  1. Vinita has taken up medical issues better than her economics concerns, why not have her discuss some seniors issues on sat at 5 pm


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