How to relieve constipation in pregnancy
Understand the risk factors and symptoms of gastrointestinal issues that mums may experience during pregnancy, and what mums can do to get sufficient nutrients without digestive discomfort.
Gastrointestinal issues, such as constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and irritable bowel syndrome are quite common during pregnancy. These can be attributed to many factors, such as the effects of hormones on the muscles of the intestines, the tendency to have lower levels of physical activity, as well as the bony and postural changes that a woman undergoes as her pregnancy progresses.1 Hence, you need to ensure that you meet your nutritional requirements by making dietary choices that does not lead to stomach upset.
Milk and dairy products provide an excellent source of high-quality proteins. Note, however, there are different types of protein of which beta-casein has drawn much attention. There are the A1 and A2 types of beta-casein. During digestion, A1 protein produces a substance called beta-casomorphin-7, which has been shown to cause gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating, flatulence, frequent stooling and abdominal pain in some people.2,3 In contrast, milk with A2 beta-casein appeared to ease these symptoms. If you are one of those people who experience an upset stomach following a glass of cow’s milk, give A2 milk a try! Drinking A2 milk can help you stay hydrated and meet the recommended dietary intakes of calcium and protein – without the bloating and digestive discomfort commonly linked with milk consumption.
Apart from being easier on the tummy, A2 beta-casein also appears less likely to result in intestinal inflammation compared with A1 beta-casein.3,4 This is important because intestinal inflammation can reduce the absorption of fluids, nutrients and electrolytes.4 Remember: it is important to carefully consider the foods you eat during your pregnancy. It is a unique and extraordinary time in your life when your eating habits can have direct, and lasting effects on another person. Make the right food choices now and give your baby a strong start in life!
- Johnson P, Mount K, Graziano S. Functional bowel disorders in pregnancy: effect on quality of life, evaluation and management. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2014;93(9):874–879.
- He M, Sun J, Jiang ZQ, Yang YX. Effects of cow's milk beta-casein variants on symptoms of milk intolerance in Chinese adults: a multicentre, randomised controlled study. Nutr J. 2017;16(1):72.
- Jianqin S, Leiming X, Lu X, Yelland GW, Ni J, Clarke AJ. Effects of milk containing only A2 beta casein versus milk containing both A1 and A2 beta casein proteins on gastrointestinal physiology, symptoms of discomfort, and cognitive behavior of people with self-reported intolerance to traditional cows' milk [published correction appears in Nutr J. 2016;15(1):45]. Nutr J. 2016;15:35.
- Ho S, Woodford K, Kukuljan S, Pal S. Comparative effects of A1 versus A2 beta-casein on gastrointestinal measures: a blinded randomised cross-over pilot study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68(9):994–1000.
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