Have you ever noticed your gut doesn’t quite behave the same in the summer? Well, you’re not alone – plenty of us have more trouble going to the loo when the sun’s out and the heat’s rising.
Of course, it varies from person to person, but here are five things that could be blocking you up and how you can avoid them.
Eating different food when the sun’s shining
A lot of us find we eat warming, comforting food in the winter. When summer comes along, we switch to fresh salads and crunchy vegetables, or perhaps we overdose on barbecue meat and ice cream. Either way, our guts are adapting to a change in diet, different foods and a different amount of nutrients.
The best thing to do is be mindful of what you’re eating. Keep an eye on how your stomach is feeling and listen to what your gut is telling you. If you’re struggling to go to the toilet, perhaps switch the last burger for some more salad. Don’t forget food safety either – be wary of things that have been sitting out in the sun for a while and keep food covered wherever you can.
How much water you’re drinking
Dehydration is one of the main causes of constipation in the summertime. When the sun’s out, we sweat more. If we’re not replacing that fluid by increasing our fluid intake, dehydration can catch up with us. Water helps your body break down food, absorb nutrients and soften your stool to help you avoid feeling bunged up.
So, keep drinking that water, especially when you’re sweating. If you find it hard to drink water on its own, why not pop some fresh fruit in there? My favourites are lemon and strawberry – the taste of summer! Be sure to get in your 1.5 – 2 L per day. Start with a warm water and lemon in the morning and 30 minutes before a meal.
3. Your level of physical activity
With rising temperatures, it’s tempting to stay inside and avoid the sun’s rays. However, decreasing exercise can affect your digestion and lead to you feeling sluggish and constipated. That’s because physical exertion can help stimulate the muscles in your digestive system.
So, do your best to keep your exercise levels up – by keeping things moving on the outside, you’ll keep them moving on the inside, too.
Shifts in daylight hours and your sleeping pattern
We all love light evenings and seeing the sun still shining at 8pm. However, it can get in the way of your natural circadian rhythm – that’s your internal clock that mainly responds to light and dark – which can in turn affect your digestion. Changes in your rhythm can impact your digestive enzymes, gut motility and nutrient absorption, all of which can lead to you feeling like you can’t go to the loo. The concept of Circadian rhythm is not new but so many of us are unaware of it. It is really interesting, have a read here. My best advice, do your best to maintain a regular eating schedule if you can – your gut will thank you for it
Have 1 Tbsp of Pumpkin Seeds, Flaxseeds & Chia Seeds Every day
This helps as the pumpkin seeds are loaded with magnesium, a mineral that most of us tend to be deficient in.
Magnesium attracts water in the colon (softens stools) and also helps relaxes the muscles in the intestines (helps establish a smoother rhythm that prevents constipation).
The flaxseeds are known to be high in omega 3’s and anti-oxidants, but also the all-important soluble and insoluble fibre which all help with gut health. I love to use the milled seeds and sprinkle them into my High Satiety Granola, into the Overnights Aats or into a morning smoothie.
Eat More Fibre Rich Foods
Some of those great foods to include are
- Baked beans
- Bran muffins
- Brown Bread
- Dates & Prunes & raisins
- Kidney beans
- Peas & Carrots
A Hot Coffee
The heat from the coffee can kick your gut into action, but the coffee itself and its high levels of caffeine are also “known to stimulate colon motility”. This is not an everyday maintenance and how-to option. This is more of a seldom emergency solution.
Sip A Herbal Tea
Lots of natural ingredients like Senna and dandelion are linked t relieving symptoms of constipation. I love sipping on a Trá Speciality Herbal Tea in the morning or a little later after the kids go to bed.
Changes in your gut microbiota
Your gut microbiota is a complex combination of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. They all play a key part in breaking down your food, but can all vary depending on things like diet, temperature and light – meaning that the summer weather can negatively impact how they’re working. They can also take a hit when you travel to new countries and eat new cuisines, so keep an eye on what you’re eating and respond to your body accordingly.
Physical manipulation can really help to get waste moving through the large intestine. How to, you ask; well,
“Start with hand in a fist on upper left abdomen just below ribcage. You can add other hand over first for added pressure. Perform deep circular movements with wrist as you move down the ‘down pipe’ of the colon. Aim for 8-10 circles as you move down.”
This is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do to help empty your bowel each day. A small stool or footrest that allows you to raise your legs and feet into a squat-like position. Raising your knees like these helps to relax your muscles and also elevates that part of your colon to assist with emptying. The deeper you go into a full squat, the easier it will be to poop.
I hope these tips and suggestions help. All in all, listen to what your body is telling you. If you’re feeling blocked up, make sure you’re drinking plenty and eating regular, healthy meals. And most importantly, enjoy the summer!