Constipation is a medical term used to refer to the reduction of bowel movements or the inability to empty the bowels. Generally, an individual is said to have constipation when the bowel movements are less than three times a week.
A research paper published in the Medical Journal of Australia in 2018 estimated that about 14 percent of the world’s population experiences severe constipation.
Stools appearing dry, lumpy, or hard; stomach cramps; bloating; and loss of appetite are the common symptoms of constipation. Lack of fiber and fluids in the diet and a sedentary lifestyle are the main causes of constipation. This article discusses a few food habits and food items that can help you deal with constipation.
Food Habits To Relieve Constipation
- Increasing your dietary fiber intake is a natural yet effective way to ease the symptoms of constipation. Adults are said to have at least 22 to 34 grams of fiber a day. Fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be digested by our body, and it comes in two forms: insoluble and soluble. While insoluble fiber goes through the digestive tract intact and increases the bulk and frequency of the stool, soluble fiber absorbs water and gives the stool a gel-like consistency, making the passage smooth.
- Avoid foods like caffeine, alcohol, and processed food, which have the potential to make the condition worse.
- Drinking plenty of water helps the fiber function better and makes the passage of stools easier.
Best Foods For Constipation
- Prunes: Dried plums, also called plumes, are one of the best foods for constipation. Half a cup of prunes contains 6 grams of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. The insoluble fiber, also called cellulose, increases the water content of the stools and thus adds bulk. Additionally, prunes contain sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol that acts as a natural laxative to ease constipation. Prunes can be consumed as they are or added to smoothies or salads.
- Apples and pears: Both apples and pears are natural laxatives that are rich in fiber and water content. It is advisable to eat them raw with the skin on to get the maximum benefit. It can also be added to salads, smoothies, or baked goods.
One medium apple contains 4.8 grams of fiber, which is beneficial for boosting your daily fiber intake and relieving constipation. Apples contain pectin, which helps us increase the frequency of stools and decrease their duration and hardness.
One medium pear is said to have 5.5 grams of fiber, which is 20 percent of our daily fiber intake. Pears are also high in sorbitol and fructose which are good for constipation.
- Kiwi: It is a great source of fiber that can improve stool consistency, decrease stool duration, and decrease abdominal pain and distress. They contain an enzyme called actinidin that could help with gut mobility and bowel habits. Kiwis can be eaten on their own or could make a great addition to smoothies or salads.
Vegetables And Legumes
- Broccoli: They are rich in vitamins, protein, and fiber. A cup of broccoli contains about 5.5 grams of fiber.
- Spinach: One cup of cooked spinach has 4 grams of fiber. It also contains the mineral magnesium, which can aid in easy stool movements.
- Sweet potato: A single baked sweet potato contains 3 grams of fiber. This can help prevent and relieve constipation. It should be consumed with its skin to get more benefits.
- Beans: Beans contain more than 10 grams of fiber per cup of serving. They contain both soluble and insoluble fibers that are good for constipation. Black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans, and garbanzo beans are all equally beneficial. We can add any of these to our salads, soups, or pasta.
Flax seeds and chia seeds: These are the easiest ways to add more fiber to your diet. We can add these to our smoothies, salads, oatmeal, yogurt, and more. One ounce of flax seeds contains 8 grams of fiber and an equal amount of chia seeds contains nearly 10 grams of fiber. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants to promote gut health and digestion.
Oats: They are powerhouses of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants other than fiber that support gut health and a good metabolism. Fiber in oats is also good for heart health and digestive problems. Oats can be added to our smoothies, breads, and yogurt toppings.
Eating a diet rich in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and beans, can help prevent and reduce symptoms of constipation. Moreover, drink enough water and exercise regularly for better digestive health and overall health.