Continuing Food Matters list of 9 symptoms you should not ignore
You’re not getting enough fibre…
One likely signal: Constipation
Background: Constipation is the clearest indicator of the body’s need for more fiber. “Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate up to 100 grams of fiber a day and had an average stool weight of 2 pounds,” says Mark Hyman, MD, the editor of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine and author of The UltraSimple Diet (Pocket Books, 2007).
“Today, the average American eats less than 8 grams of fiber a day, and the average bowel movement is a puny 4 ounces.” That’s a problem, he says, because the bowels are key to the body’s elimination process. When traffic is backed up, toxins from the bowel leach back into the body and can cause a multitude of inflammation-based health problems in everything from your digestion and skin to your heart and brain. They can also disrupt hormonal balance and immunity. The bottom line, Hyman says: “If stools are hard and hard to pass, you’ve got a problem.”
Other signals: Frequent hunger pangs, energy slumps, digestive trouble, skin problems, inflammatory conditions
How to respond: Eat more legumes, vegetables, (fruits) and whole grains. All are chock-full of fiber and other nutrients, making them natural go-to foods. Getting the recommended 35 to 40 grams of fiber a day not only improves bowel health, but it also lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease, says Andrew Weil, MD, director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine of the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
If you want other ways to sneak extra roughage into your day, Swift suggests … a seasoning she makes out of crushed pumpkin seeds, ground flax meal, sesame seeds, kelp flakes and sea salt — basically, a riff on gomasio, which is used as a salt alternative in Japanese cuisine. Put it in a wrap, sprinkle over brown rice or use to garnish soups, she says. “The nuts, seeds and ocean veggies are a nutrient- and fiber-licous powerhouse.” (Keep it in the fridge to lengthen its lifespan.)
Try making the gomazio above but without the sea salt as there is a saltiness in the seaweed. If you can’t find kelp flakes, most supermarkets now stock Nori sheets. Lightly toast a sheet of Nori under a grill for a few seconds and then finely crumble it into the ground seed mixture.
I do not encourage adding bran to foods, as this may be too harsh on the digestive system, stripping away beneficial nutrients. Include whole grains, legumes, seeds and vegetables at meals to support good elimination. Occasionally someone may need additional support in order to encourage a healthy digestive process, so contact me for a consultation if this is a factor in your own health. Including sufficient water-intake each day is also a vital measure in preventing constipation.