HSW 61: Constipation and SIBO with Lynda Griparic

This week we’re talking all things digestive health – in particular constipation and small intestinal bowel overgrowth, otherwise known as SIBO.  Given shift workers are often plagued with gastrointestinal complaints due to the biological stress associated with ongoing disruption to our sleep/wake cycle, together with diets that are often made up of processed foods which contain little fibre, this is an episode that you don’t want to miss!

Lynda Griparic is a Naturopath, Nutritionist, Writer and Yoga teacher with over 16 years of experience in the health industry who specialises in digestive health, in particular SIBO and constipation. She has extensive experience in running healthy, effective and sustainable bowel care programs and has expertise in investigating and treating the underlying causes of gut disturbance. Lynda has an intense interest in poo and she’s also the creator of the delicious BetterMe Tea a tea designed to promote improved gut health and digestion – assisting those who struggle with constipation and sluggish bowel movements to go to the bathroom with ease.

In this informative and entertaining episode chatting with Lynda, you’re going to learn:

  • Why it’s important to have regular bowel movements
  • Some of the causes and triggers of constipation
  • Exactly what is SIBO, and how it can impact on your health
  • Foods to avoid and support your gut health whilst working 24/7

Links mentioned on the podcast:

Lynda’s Website and Constipation Program

Lynda’s Love & Gut’s Podcast

Dr Jensen’s Guide to Better Bowel Care

Stress, Gut Health and Shift Work:

What's the connection?

As a shift worker plagued by exhaustion, I’m pretty sure you will remember a time when you experienced digestive discomfort whether that’s in the form of bloating, stomach pain or nausea, and it was most likely during a night shift, or soon after getting up for an early shift.

But why is that?

Well its because lack of sleep or sleep disruption, is essentially a form of stress, and stress plays a huge role in digestion and bowel function.

Essentially nerves to the bowel get affected by stress, which can impair nutrient absorption leading to poor bowel function.

Whenever the body is under stress or faced with a stressful situation, (whether it be real or perceived as real) digestion no longer becomes a priority.  This leads to a reduction in gut motility or muscle contractions along the digestive tract; less saliva being produced in the mouth; along with a reduction in gastric acid secretion in the stomach which in turn, impairs the digestion of our food.

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Breakfast Nutrition:

Chia Pot with Mango, Crushed Walnuts and Maple Syrup.

It was brekky on the deck this morning to soak up the winter warming rays of sunshine, before heading off to my local organic farmers markets.

These little chia pots are great for breakfast (or anytime really), as chia seeds are loaded with fibre, protein, healthy omega-3 fats, calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus.

They also contain high amounts of antioxidants plus certain micronutrients including zinc, potassium, vitamins B1, B2 and B3.

From a shift work nutrition perspective, what I absolutely love about these tiny little black seeds is they help to provide sustained energy which is super important when you’re faced with ongoing tiredness as a result of working 24/7.

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It's A Little Bit Embarrassing, But Are You Prone To A Sluggish Bowel?

It’s certainly not the usual topic of discussion around the dinner table but if you suffer from a sluggish bowel (a fairly common digestive complaint amongst shift workers), then you’re not alone.

A lot of shift workers are prone to this gastrointestinal complaint because of the 24/7 lifestyle – working erratic hours resulting in chronic fatigue leading to poor dietary choices. Drinking excessive amounts of coffee or tea and not enough water, a bad diet, insufficient exercise and consuming foods low in essential vitamins and minerals are all potential contributors of constipation.

Eating when you’re not hungry or not eating altogether – a common trait amongst shift workers due to irregular start and/or finish times, (along with a lack of regular meal breaks), can also lead to a sluggish bowel.

So despite your crazy 24/7 lifestyle, you mind find the tips below helpful in overcoming this rather embarrassing complaint.

4 Handy Tips To Help With A Sluggish Bowel

1. Epsom Salts – mix 1/2 – 1 teaspoon into juice or water. Epsom salts work by pulling water into the colon making the stools easier to pass. The magnesium found in Epsom salts assists with muscle contractions making it easier for the colon to contract and eliminate the stool.

2. Drink more water – at least 2 litres per day. If your body is dehydrated the large intestine in your digestive tract soaks up the water from your food waste. This results in hard stools that are difficult to pass. Drinking plenty of water consistently throughout the day can help prevent and alleviate constipation by aiding the flow of food though the intestines.

3. Exercise – inactivity is a major risk factor for constipation and essential for regular bowel movements. Moving your body helps in the relief of constipation by decreasing the time it takes for food to move through the large intestine, thus limiting the amount of water absorbed from the stool into the body.

4. Linseed is extremely useful in difficult cases of constipation – 1 teaspoon of linseed swallowed with water before each meal provides both roughage and lubrication to the digestive tract.

It’s important to realise that a sluggish bowel is often blamed for many diseases because waste products are retained in the body allowing toxins to be absorbed back into your system.

The accumulation of faeces in the colon can also inhibit material from passing through naturally leading to the onset of hernias, diverticulitis and heemorrhoids. It can also destroy the good bacteria in our colon which can lead to infection and disease (80% of our immune system is located in our digestive system).

So just like our 24/7 lifestyle, we need to keep things moving in our digestive tract 24/7 as well!