Smart dietary choices improve our health and make us feel better

19. December 2014

Gastroenterologist of the East-Tallinn Central Hospital Urve Mardna says that the food and drink we put in our mouth have a direct impact on how good we feel and the state of our health.

Elderly patients usually have to see Dr Mardna because they’re suffering from chronic constipation.

What is constipation?

The opinions of patients are wall to wall.Emptying the bowel from three times a day to three times a week is considered normal bowel movement.

Each body has an individual operating rhythm.Increasingly severe constipation, which is favoured by food that is poor in fibre, and lack of exercise are frequent problems in older age.

Dr Mardna advises people to take a critical look at what they eat.Fruit and vegetables help to maintain good digestion.Even when boiled or stewed, they give the body what it needs and bowel movements become more regular.Excessive consumption of fatty foods and sweets should be avoided.

A diet should be diverse so that the body gets everything it needs.“Excluding meat completely is not advisable.People should also avoid very strict slimming diets.Weight loss should be a long process that maintains a balance between the energy spent and the energy received from food.Avoiding weight gain in the first place is positive,” says the gastroenterologist.

Elderly people often take a lot of medicines.Certain medicines like tranquilisers, antidepressants and painkillers cause constipation.When taking the medication is essential, it is even more important that enough attention is given to food and exercise that help alleviate constipation.

Give digestion a kick in the morning

Drinking a glass of water in the morning often helps, as it kick-starts the bowel. Wheat and oat bran or linseeds can be added to food, and eating plums, figs, beetroot, etc. also helps.How to consume them depends on everyone’s preferences and wishes.

Living alone or the price of healthy food is not a valid excuse.It’s more likely that people simply have the wrong lifestyle or are lazy, which makes them snack and prefer unhealthy food.Doctors cannot perform miracles in such cases, as patients make their own choices at home.

“As food of animal origin (meat, fish, milk and fats) contain no fibre, it is necessary to add wholegrain products, vegetables, fruits and berries to the diet.

“Peas, beans, cabbage, swede, beetroot, carrot, pumpkin, dates, figs, dried apricots, bananas, raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, chokeberries and blackberries are rich in fibre.It’s good to eat a vegetable salad before the main meal and to add some vegetable oil to it.

“It’s advisable to eat four times a day at the same times.Fruit and cottage cheese should be preferred in the evenings, sour milk at night.

“Consumption of pastries and other flour products, chocolate and cocoa should be restricted.It’s advisable to drink 1.5-2 litres of water per day,” says Dr Mardna and adds that laxatives should not be used in the case of constipation.They slow down the normal activity of the bowel and the constipation will return sooner or later.