We all know what it feels like to be constipated, if you don’t, then you truly are lucky or perhaps you know the secret to keeping regular. Although all our bowel habits vary, if you have not had a bowel movement for three days or more, then it is likely that you are constipated. Constipation can occur for various reasons, but more often than not, constipation can be linked directly to our diets! So, by looking at the best foods for constipation, hopefully, you will be one step on your way to knowing how to stay regular.
Foods that can help with constipation are typically high in fiber. Most of us know this already, but still, the average person only consumes around 12g of fiber a day, when we should be eating a minimum of 18g-30g. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, both are needed if you want to relieve constipation and prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Soluble fiber softens stools while insoluble fiber aids the passage of other food. Most food listed in this article that are good for constipation have a high fiber content and if added to your diet will make a difference to your bowel movements.
The Importance of Fruit
Fruit is packed full of fiber, however, to get the full benefits from fruit, you need to leave the skin on as this is where a large proportion of the dietary fiber is contained.
What fruits to eat for constipation?
Pears are one of the best fruits to eat as they contain high amounts of fiber, with the a medium-sized pear providing at least 6g. Apples are also a wise choice if you are suffering from constipation, they act as a bulking agent and can even ease diarrhea. Berries do a similar thing by providing a fair amount of dietary fiber, but with berries you will benefit from an added health boost as they are packed full of antioxidants, which can effectively remove toxins from the body.
If you already eat fruit, then that is great, but if not then it is definitely worth adding them to your diet, whether that is to your breakfast cereal each morning or blending them into a tasty smoothie.
Prunes for Constipation
Prunes, or dried plums as they are more recently being called, have long been associated with constipation relief, and for good reason. Prunes contain a good mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber, which work well together to relieve constipation.
Additionally, prunes contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol also known as glucitol. Our body finds it difficult to digest sorbitol and so metabolizes it slowly. This is what makes sorbitol a natural osmotic laxative, in that it causes the large intestine to draw in water to remove it; the additional water acts as a stool softener that helps stools to pass. Prunes also contain a compound known as dihydrophenylisatin, a natural laxative that encourages muscle contractions, helping fecal matter to push through.
Although prunes are essentially a dried plum, they are better to eat for constipation than an actual plum. If you give prunes a try and you are unsure, you can always try adding them to you cereal or yogurt which can sometimes help to mask the taste. Prune juice is also available, which is said to be nearly as good.
Beans have got to be one of the best foods for constipation! They contain one of the highest sources of dietary fiber available; they provide over 10g of fiber per 1-cup serving, with some beans providing much more.
Additionally, beans are made up of a good amount of soluble and insoluble fiber, which is bound to get your bowels going; this also means that by eating beans you won’t feel hungry. There are many different beans to choose from, all with a high amount of fiber, including but not limited to:
- mung beans
- black beans
- kidney beans
- lima beans
- white beans
Psyllium husk sometimes referred to as ispaghula, is a soluble fiber which comes from the plantago ovate plant. Psyllium husk has long been used as a natural laxative for constipation and is also said to be a really effective remedy for sufferers of IBS. It is important that when taking psyllium husk that you drink plenty of water, otherwise you risk making constipation worse.
Lots and Lots of Greens
Vegetables, like fruit, are great for constipation. Although not to everybody’s taste, Brussel sprouts are a good vegetable to choose if you are suffering from constipation as they contain high levels of fiber. However, if you don’t like Brussel sprouts, there are other vegetables you can add to your diet including sweet potatoes. Green peas also offer a good amount of fiber with around 7g per 1-cup serving.
Broccoli is another option, especially since in recent years it has been classed as somewhat of a super food, with some claiming it can decrease the risk of developing certain cancers as well as reduce cholesterol. Although, there is no solid evidence, we do know that broccoli is packed full of vitamin C, vitamin A, and calcium, which will ensure that your immune system and various other body functions stay strong and healthy.
Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are small-sized seeds from the flax plant. They come in two types: there are brown linseeds and golden linseeds. Flaxseed is continuously growing in popularity due to its health benefits – they are high in omega -3 and lignans. Flaxseeds also have a high-fiber content which makes them handy when suffering from constipation. Flaxseeds are available whole, grounded (also known as flax meal) and as an oil.
Research suggests that flax meal is the best choice as your body is able to absorb more nutrients from grounded flaxseeds as opposed to whole.
Knowing the best foods for constipation should help if you take action. Increasing your dietary intake of fiber is one of the easiest and most natural ways to ease constipation, just remember to drink lots of water as this will help with moving things along.
Which foods get your bowels moving?