Constipation is defined as a condition where “there is difficulty in emptying the bowels, usually associated with hardened feces.” Did you know that according to the Mayo Clinic, you are constipated if you have only one or two bowel movements a week, especially if they are difficult episodes?
Constipation is a common problem and data from the National Institute of Health shows that nearly 42 million Americans may experience the condition every year. So what can you do to find relief from or prevent constipation? The simplest solution is to increase the intake of fiber, which can support digestion and help keep bowel movements regular.
The importance of fiber in our diets:
Nutritionists and food scientists categorize fiber into two types: soluble and insoluble. The body needs both types to prevent or relieve constipation and the best way to get the required amount of fiber is by incorporating foods like fruits, vegetables and certain grains.
Oats, black beans, avocados, sweet potatoes, carrots and figs are some of the rich sources of soluble fiber available to us. The fiber content in these foods absorbs the water in the body to become a gel-like substance that supports easy bowel movements. Insoluble fiber found in fruit and vegetable peels, wheat bran, cereals and seeds adds bulk to the body’s waste and controls the number of bowel movements you have.
14 Foods to Help Relieve Constipation
1. Chia seeds
One ounce of these tiny yet mighty seeds contains close to 10 grams of fiber and their tiny size makes it easy to incorporate them into different foods like smoothies, oatmeal and salads.
Did you know that 1 ounce of pistachios contains 3 grams of fiber and an equal serving of almonds provides 3.5 grams? Apart from providing fiber, nuts are a good source of healthy fats too, so, you can snack on a handful of nuts to get multiple benefits.
This green cruciferous vegetable that most children and many adults don’t relish is a rich source of fiber. With nearly 3 grams per cup, broccoli also provides vitamins C and K for added benefits.
One cup of lentils has close to 15.6 grams of fiber, which is nearly half of a day’s quota. It also provides close to 18 percent of proteins, which are an essential component of your diet.
Pectin supplements have been shown to relieve constipation and this could be because pectin is a special fiber, found in whole apples. A medium-sized apple could provide almost 4.4 grams of fiber to support healthy bowel movement.
With 6 grams of fiber in a medium-sized pear, they are a common remedy for constipation in babies. Experts believe that pears can benefit adults too.
Spinach is a good source of nutrition for the whole body and might provide optimum amounts of fiber, 4 grams per cup, to support digestive health.
Berries are known for their antioxidants and vitamin C content, but raspberries provide nearly 8 grams of fiber per cup and can also support heart health.
Apart from reducing bad cholesterol, oats can be a good source of fiber with nearly 4 grams in each cup. You could add nuts and berries to your bowl of oatmeal to increase fiber intake.
Studies show that prunes are great for constipation relief because they provide a good amount of insoluble fiber that can add bulk to the stools. A serving of 10 prunes can provide 7 grams of fiber.
11. Rye bread
While a whole wheat bread may be healthier than white bread, try a loaf of rye bread to find some constipation relief. A study shows that individuals who consumed about 240 grams of rye bread every day felt less constipated than those who consumed whole wheat bread.
12. Sweet potatoes
A cup of sweet potatoes can provide 4 grams of fiber and vitamin A to support your eyes, skin and digestive health. Researchers have found that sweet potatoes may be useful to relieve constipation in people undergoing chemotherapy.
A serving (three to five) of either fresh or dried figs can provide nearly 5 grams of fiber. So, eat them as a guilt-free afternoon snack, toss them in your salad or use figs to garnish a cup of yogurt.
Apart from being a good source of vitamin C, kiwis also provide up to 2 grams of fiber per fruit. A regular consumption of two kiwis a day might help relieve constipation over a period of time.
Foods to avoid
Now that you know what to eat to relieve and prevent constipation, make a note of foods that can cause constipation, in some, so that you can stay clear of them. These include dairy products, processed foods like chips, cookies and frozen meals and meat.
7 Foods to Avoid for Constipation Relief. (2011, March 31). Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/constipation-pictures/foods-to-avoid-for-constipation-relief.aspx#01
Matthews, M. (2018, August 15). 15 Foods You Should Eat When You’re Constipated. Retrieved from https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a19518868/best-foods-for-constipation/