Women have problems with irregularity or constipation more often than men. According to some studies, they have a longer transit time. The reasons are unclear, but there are at least two hypotheses. Firstly, women eat less than men and follow a low-calorie diet more often, secondly, progesterone, a hormone secreted more in the second half of the hormonal cycle and during pregnancy, makes the intestines sluggish.

In addition, people who eat little have less food to move through their intestines, which inevitably reduces stool volume and increases the risk of constipation. This is therefore a possible consequence of weight loss diets. But it’s not just the quantity that counts. The quality of the diet is essential to promote good intestinal regularity.

Fibre, increase your daily intake gradually

The number one secret to regulate its transit, which is not really a secret: fiber. These make it easier for stools to travel from one end of the intestine to the other (known as “transit”) and they increase their volume and weight by gorging themselves with water. They thus contribute to standardizing the transit time. If yours is too fast or too slow, fibers are valuable allies! The fiber intake goal is about 21-38g per day. Recommendations vary according to age, sex and particular conditions (pregnancy, lactation).

To increase your fiber intake, a significant portion of the foods you eat must come from plant foods: whole grain breads and cereals (whole wheat pasta, breads and couscous, quinoa, spelt, barley, etc.), legumes (chickpeas, lentils, broad beans and dried beans of all colors), various fruits and vegetables (bet on those you like and keep the skin on when possible), nuts and seeds (peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, flax, hemp or chia seeds, etc.). To do this, bet on a balanced meal plan and on fiber-rich snacks when you feel a bit peckish.

Examples of meals high in fiber (containing about 10-15 grams of fiber)

  • Salad of quinoa, vegetables and nuts, a banana
  • Lentil dhal, steamed vegetables and brown rice, apple slices and natural peanut butter
  • Meal soup with lentils, vegetables and whole wheat pita spread with hummos
  • Whole Wheat Pasta, Meat and Lentil Spaghetti Sauce and Side Salad
  • Crispy chickpeas and raw vegetables, nuts and fruit
  • Vegetarian Chili with Black Beans and Whole Wheat Bread
  • Crudités and homemade hummos

The best to overcome constipation: fresh vegetables and plenty of legumes

Although the use of fiber is known to fight against constipation, many women are reluctant to increase their fiber intake for fear that it will cause digestive discomfort and bloating. In order to counter these possible negative effects, you can simply gradually increase your fiber intake so that the body adapts to this dietary change. Additionally, it may be beneficial to spread fiber throughout the day instead of consuming it all at once.

Let’s favor fresh and whole foods, rather than ultra-processed foods! Fresh and minimally processed foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts and seeds, not only contain fiber naturally but also a host of nutrients (vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, essential fats , phytochemicals…and many more that science hasn’t even discovered yet). In other words, fresh foods rich in fiber are much more than just nutrients taken in isolation. They are composed of a complex matrix of which we do not yet know all the beneficial effects for health!

Lentils, split peas, various dried beans, chickpeas and company are essential when it comes to regularity. First, they are very rich in dietary fiber: 11 to 16 g per 250 ml! They also contain poorly digestible sugars called oligosaccharides, which help explain their benefits. It is these same oligosaccharides that cause bloating and gas. (Tip: rinse canned legumes before eating). Also know that the intestines gradually adapt to it. So, gradually incorporate them into your meals;

Bread, yes but always made with whole grains

Sometimes choosing bread can get tedious. With all these nutritional claims, it sometimes becomes difficult to see clearly. In order to make a choice containing more fibre, look in the list of ingredients for: “made with whole wheat flour (corn, oats, rye, etc.)” or “WHEAT BREAD”. Beware of the claim “multigrain” since it does not always mean that all the grains are whole, but rather that the product contains a multitude of grains. Also, it is important to know that the terms flour, white flour, refined flour, wheat flour, enriched wheat flour, are all products whose bran has been removed, which reduces the amount of fiber.

The secrets of fruits against intestinal laziness

Fruits and vegetables should take up at least a third of your plate at each meal, and ideally, half. Some of the most fiber-rich fruits and vegetables include blackberries, pears, raspberries and peas, but all contribute to your daily fiber intake. In short, the important thing is to opt for fruits and vegetables that you like in order to give them a place of choice on your plate. With the exception of prune juice, juices are much less attractive than whole fruits and vegetables because they contain no dietary fiber, are high in free sugars and are not very filling. The special case of pineau is well known, prunes are not only rich in dietary fiber. They help prevent and treat constipation, among other things, because they naturally contain sorbitol. This sugar alcohol is not well absorbed by the body, which gives it a laxative effect. Be careful, sugar alcohols can also cause bloating and gas in some people.

Water: 2 liters per day

When you increase your fiber intake, it is important to drink enough water to facilitate its passage through the intestines. But drinking more water than necessary does not, in itself, improve regularity. Excess water is directed to the kidneys (which excrete it as urine), rather than to the intestines. Aim to drink 2 liters (women) to 3 liters (men) of water per day.

Some daily tips and tricks

Gradually increase your fiber intake by starting with small realistic goals to put in place (e.g. include whole grain cereal products, legumes or nuts in certain meals.

  • – Bet on fresh foods rich in fiber, rather than ultra-processed foods containing new fibers
  • – Keep the skin on fruits and vegetables whenever possible.
  • – Opt more often for whole grains in place of refined grains.
  • – Include vegetarian dishes in the menu (eg include legumes and lentils in soups, sauces, and salads).
  • – Opt for high-fiber snacks when you feel peckish.
  • – Add dried fruits and nuts to your snacks
  • – Stay hydrated throughout the day
  • – Increase your practice of physical activity to reach 150 minutes per week.
  • – Develop a routine; i.e. try to have a bowel movement at the same time every day

– Respond immediately to the urge to have a bowel movement when it arises.

If changing your eating habits and lifestyle does not help, please see a doctor to discuss the possible use of a natural stool softener or laxative.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.