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Do we have to live with constipation?

Constipation is a common problem for many people but instead of resorting to laxatives, it is more important to identify the underlying cause.

Kiwifruit is a great source of fibre Plenty of water to stay hydrated Bushwalking with my dog

Constipation occurs when stool is moving too slowly through the digestive tract, usually causing it to become dry and hard. Bowel movements can become infrequent or difficult to pass and there can be a feeling of incomplete evacuation.

Some common symptoms of constipation are:

  • Bloating

  • Excessive gas and distension

  • Painful bowel movements

  • Fatigue

  • Brain fog

Healthy bowel movements should happen at least once a day, and ideally 2-3 times a day. While occasional bouts of constipation are normal, chronic cases can significantly impact our quality of life.

Some of the possible causes of constipation are stress, dehydration, a low fibre diet and a lack of exercise. However, certain illnesses, medications, insufficient digestive enzymes, Sibo (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) and microbiome dysbiosis can all contribute to constipation.

For most people, increasing exercise and improving diet and hydration is enough to improve bowel motions.

But what if that doesn’t work?

Then it’s time to get help from a qualified practitioner to uncover what else may be going on.

The top 3 things I consider when a client seeks support for constipation are:

  1. Are they eating enough fibre, drinking enough water, and exercising? If not, increasing these three things is the easiest and quickest to remedy.

  2. What is their gut transit time? A simple gut transit test can determine how quickly the food they eat ends up in the toilet bowl. The ideal is 14-24 hours! A slow transit time can often result in constipation, and it is common to have daily bowel motions yet still be constipated.

  3. Do they have an overgrowth of opportunistic microbes? There are a group of microbes called Archaea that live in our gut and produce methane gas. Methane slows gut transit time often resulting in constipation.

At the Microbiome Group we use stool testing to determine if a client's gut microbiome may be contributing to their constipation. We then develop individual treatment protocols that focus on food, probiotics, prebiotics, and herbal remedies.

If constipation is an issue for you, don't ignore it. Come and talk to us...


Bin Waqar et al. (2019). Methane and Constipation-predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Entwining Pillars of Emerging Neurogastroenterology. Cureus, 11(5), e4764.

Chan et al. (2007). Increasing dietary fiber intake in terms of kiwifruit improves constipation in Chinese patients. World journal of gastroenterology, 13(35), 4771–4775. DOI: 10.3748/wjg.v13.i35.4771

Gao et al. (2019). Exercise therapy in patients with constipation: a systematic review and meta analysis of randomized controlled trials. Scandinavian journal of gastroenterology, 54(2), 169–177. DOI: 10.1080/00365521.2019.1568544

Vicky Ellenport BHSc NUT is a registered Nutritionist and Microbiome Analyst who uses a food first approach in her treatment protocols. If you want to book in for a consultation, you can do so here: Vicky Ellenport | The Microbiome Group

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