Why lockdown is making you constipated

If you’ve noticed that your tummy has been a bit off lately – you’re definitely not alone.

In the first wave of lockdown, our minds and bodies had to adapt to a new routine and way of life, and it had a big impact on how we function.

Our sleep schedules and working patterns shifted, exercise and healthy eating regimes took a back seat, and our social lives were limited to video calls and virtual pub quizzes – all of which had more of an impact on our physical well-being than we anticipated.

One puzzling symptom of lockdown seems to be more people complaining of being backed up – not being able to go to the toilet frequently enough. Which can lead to unpleasant cramps, bloating and discomfort.

Now, as the UK prepares for lockdown 2.0, gut microbiologist, Dr Kate Stephens – of OptiBac Probiotics – reveals why lockdown can trigger constipation, and how getting your gut health in good order can help us prepare for the second installment.

‘Moving less, eating differently and virtual socialising can all have knock-on effects on your health,’ says Dr Kate. ‘We have noticed huge increases in customer enquiries since the first lockdown began in March, showing that unexpected health niggles were emerging.

‘For example, IBS enquiries increased by 842% and so has bloating, which has increased by a significant 3000%.’

Quarantine constipation and tummy troubles

‘Constipation can be common due to a range of lifestyle factors, in fact one in seven reported issues with it in 2019,’ she explains.

But there are certain lifestyle changes that come with lockdown that are likely exacerbating the issue.

First of all – if you’re working from home right now, when was the last time you got up for a glass of water?

‘While working from home, we may find ourselves drinking less water and becoming dehydrated,’ says Dr Kate.

‘What’s more is that we are reaching for comfort foods that tend to be high in fat and sugar (yes, even banana bread). Many harmful bacteria in the gut are sugar monsters, they thrive on these types of foods. 

‘This can cause an imbalance in the types of microbes in our gut and our friendly bacteria levels drop. This is one of the most common factors of gut upset and can cause constipation and tummy trouble.’

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