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FAQ - Constipation Q&A

By Cathy Robinson BSc(Hons) DipNutMed MWNMS

Expert nutritionists share their frequently asked questions…

Q - "I suffer from constipation and I have tried adding wheat bran to my cereal but it makes me feel bloated and I sometimes get pain in my lower abdomen. What can I do?"

A - Wheat bran can be irritating to a sensitive bowel, particularly if the digestive lining is inflamed and tender. Since wheat forms such a major part of the diet, many people can be sensitive to it. So, if your digestion is unhappy, then it makes sense to reduce the amount of wheat in your diet.

I would recommend that you sprinkle cold milled flax seeds on your cereal instead of wheat bran. Flax seeds are naturally high in fibre because, once in contact with moisture, they produce a jelly-like coating called mucilage, which not only adds bulk to the stool but can also help to soothe any inflammation on the interior lining of the digestive system. The fibre in flax seeds also encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestine, as well as acting like a broom, sweeping the colon of waste material.

In addition, flax seeds also provide protein and contain omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids, so are important for the circulatory system, as well as lignans. Lignans are naturally-occurring phytonutrients which are increasingly being studied for their potential benefits to both men’s and women’s hormonal health.

As well as sprinkling them over cereal, nutty-tasting flax seeds can be blended into drinks or smoothies, stirred into yoghurt or taken straight from the spoon. I would recommend that you take around a dessertspoon per day. Make sure you drink plenty of water while taking flax seeds, as they absorb large amounts of water.

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