Gluten is a protein found in certain grains including wheat, barley and unfortunately, gluten intolerance or sensitivity is becoming increasingly more common nowadays.
Although the exact cause of gluten intolerance or sensitivity isn’t well understood, a number of possible explanations exist.
Firstly, it’s possible that some people lack the relevant enzymes required to break gluten down. As a result, undigested gluten is able to travel freely into your large intestine where it is then attacked by bacteria in a process called fermentation. Excess, or abnormal fermentation is more likely to give rise to undesirable symptoms including bloating, flatulence, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhoea or constipation.
As well as in bread, pasta, and baked goods, gluten is often hidden in a range of different foods, condiments and drinks including: soy sauce, processed meats and even beer.
The other issue with gluten is that it is very often found in processed foods. The problem with processed foods is that they are often stripped of beneficial components such as dietary fibre, which can contribute to a sluggish bowel. White bread or pasta, for example, often have limited fibre content and are therefore much more likely to clog you up.
Aim to eat fresh in order to limit your intake of gluten and to ensure that you get a good daily dose of dietary fibre. Linoforce contains fibre-rich linseeds that can also be used to give your gut a gentle kick-start.
Intolerance to dairy products may also contribute to constipation in many cases. Although people can be sensitive to dairy for a number of different reasons, intolerance to the milk sugar lactose may be the underlying issue.
An enzyme called lactase is responsible for breaking lactose down into its simplest units so that it is ready for absorption. Insufficient lactase (an issue that can start as early as weaning but in many cases is thought to become progressively worse as we get older) means that lactose can’t be broken down and absorbed properly, and instead the components continue into the large intestine.
Here, undigested lactose is thought to cause irritation as it is fermented by the bacteria in your gut and may contribute to symptoms including flatulence, bloating and irregular bowel movements.
Red or processed meats
Red meats are particularly taxing on the stomach and digestive system; they are high in protein and often fat which means they require more effort to break down. Generally, meats high in fat sit in the stomach longer and are acid producing, which in excess, can give rise to symptoms such as acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion and can make things more sluggish than normal.
Then, if the meat is also processed, there will also be the addition of lots of unwanted extras in there too; from sugar to stabilisers. These pro-inflammatory ingredients can cause further irritation and may contribute to symptoms affecting the gut which can include bloating, flatulence and altered bowel movements.
There are a number of issues with sugar (in terms of your digestion that is – let’s keep it simple for now!).Firstly, as above, sugar is pro-inflammatory and this means it acts as an irritant to your digestive system and urinary tract.
Next, it upsets the balance of bacteria in your gut. We’ll talk more about the importance of good gut bacteria in the days to come, but sugar basically helps feed the bad bacteria in your gut. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in gut bacteria, is thought to potentially play a part in a number of conditions affecting the gut such as IBS, and can give rise to a number of symptoms such as bloating, flatulence or constipation.
My top product picks for managing the symptoms of constipation
Help get a sluggish gut moving with Linoforce, prepared with linseeds and infused with extracts of senna and frangula. Once your symptoms have settled, take Molkosan rich in L+ lactic acid to support the internal environment of the gut, and top up your numbers of good bacteria with Optibac’s ‘For Every Day’ probiotics.