Constipation is a digestive system condition that occurs when an individual finds it quite difficult to pass stool. Dehydration is a common cause of constipation, as the colon draws water out of the food in the intestines, making it firm and harder to pass through the digestive tract. Thus, the less water an individual has in their body, the more it will need to draw from this food. The longer food sits in the colon, the more water is extracted, which makes the feces hard and often incredibly painful to pass. Along with drinking more water, eating fibrous foods is an important part of relieving constipation.
Prunes are a great natural remedy for relieving constipation. In fact, they may be the most popular natural remedy! They are a great source of insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to stools and stimulates the digestive tract, making bowel movements easier. They also contain high levels of sugar alcohol called sorbitol, which acts as a natural laxative. These tasty, little dried fruits can also be eaten every day to aid in digestion, regulate bowel movements, and prevent constipation from occurring.
Research indicates consuming prunes is highly effective in relieving constipation and some studies even suggest eating them should be the first step taken in constipation relief before using over-the-counter laxatives and stool softeners. For the most effective treatment for constipation, fifty grams (the equivalent of about seven medium-sized prunes) should be eaten twice a day.
A fig is a small, wrinkly-looking fruit that belongs to the mulberry family. They are an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is especially useful for constipation as it helps form a soft, bulky stool in the digestive tract, and this type of stool is far easier for individuals to pass. Soluble fiber binds to fatty acids and slowly pushes the mass out of the individual's gastrointestinal tract by forming a gel. A serving of five dried or fresh figs contains approximately 3.5 grams of fiber. Many individuals include figs in their diet by roasting them in savory dishes, though they can also be included in garden salads and eaten raw with a little bit of tangy cheese or another dairy product.
Artichokes are a type of thistle belonging to the Cynara family, and like many other foods on this list, help alleviate constipation due to their fiber content. One medium-sized artichoke may contain up to ten grams of fiber. Unfortunately, many individuals stay away from eating artichokes because they do not know how to prepare them. However, it's much easier to do than most believe! Artichoke hearts are excellent when eaten by themselves or added to salads. Steaming them keeps most of their nutrients intact. When preparing artichokes, individuals should snip the tips of the sharp leaves off, dip the leaves in coconut oil, and add the hearts to salads.
Legumes such as chickpeas, beans, and green peas are extremely high in fiber, which makes fiber the savior when it comes to dealing with constipation once again. One cup of green peas contains roughly seven grams of fiber while a one-half cup serving of pinto beans contains a whopping fifteen grams. Pairing legumes and beans with vegetables is an easy way for individuals to get more fiber in their diet. Individuals can enjoy legumes by dipping carrot, celery, and cucumber sticks in hummus or adding black beans and brown rice to a whole wheat tortilla for a fiber-rich dinner. Most chili recipes also include lots of legumes, so this is another excellent choice.
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of mucilage, which is a slimy and mushy compound lining the entire digestive tract. It provides a protective and soothing coating. Flaxseeds contain as much as twelve percent mucilage, which can help alleviate constipation and restore digestive health after ulcers, infection, or antibiotic use. Individuals can even use flaxseed meal to bake high fiber muffins along with bran and lots of fruit or add a few tablespoons of ground flaxseeds to their morning oatmeal along with a handful of blueberries. Either way, including flax in one's diet is a crucial way to quickly relieve symptoms of severe constipation and get things moving along quickly.
A one-cup serving of sweet potatoes contains four grams of fiber to help move fecal matter through the body while retaining water, making the stool softer and easier to pass in the end. Sweet potatoes are also high in many antioxidants and other phytonutrients, which help restore an individual's overall digestive health and can, because of this, relieve constipation. Sweet potatoes make an excellent side to most dishes. Individuals can, for instance, pair a baked sweet potato with wild-caught salmon and steamed asparagus. They can also cut sweet potatoes into thin slices and bake them in the oven in place of deep-fried french fries. Sweet potatoes also make for an excellent mash!
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable with many proven health benefits. One such benefit, of course, is relieving constipation. Once again, this is thanks to the fiber broccoli contains, which amounts to roughly 2.4 grams per cup. The two best ways for individuals to eat broccoli are raw or steamed, as other methods of cooking broccoli, such as boiling and baking seem to cause the vegetable to lose much of its nutritional value. Some research even shows steaming broccoli may enhance some of its health-promoting compounds. Individuals who want to eat broccoli to help with their constipation should try dipping raw broccoli in hummus or adding steamed broccoli to whole-wheat pasta dishes.
Whole grains are another natural choice for relieving constipation. Similar to other natural constipation relief foods, they are chock full of insoluble fiber and help increase the speed at which foods pass through the digestive system. Combined with proper hydration, these hearty foods can help relieve constipation quickly and gently. In addition to constipation relief, foods containing whole grains can reduce an individual's risk of certain illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Whole grains can be found in a wide variety of foods, such as corn, rice, quinoa, and barley, making it easy to get the daily recommended amount and maximum effectiveness for constipation relief.
According to one study, individuals who ate two kiwifruits each day for four weeks had less severe constipation and a lessening of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms than those who did not. Kiwifruit is quite high in fiber, which is a well-known nutrient needed to lessen constipation and promote regularity of bowel movements, and other nutrients needed to stimulate the digestive system. In particular, they are an excellent way to help children with constipation as they are tasty and easy to eat. Cut some up and add to salads or eat raw for the best benefits.
Berries, including blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries, are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. One cup of fresh blueberries supplies approximately 3.6 grams of fiber, while one cup of frozen blueberries has about 4.2 grams. Thus, eating some berries with this much fiber can help keep stool easy to pass and promote the regularity of bowel movements, as mentioned previously. If an individual is buying dried or frozen blueberries or other berries, they should be mindful of added sugars, which are sometimes used to preserve freshness. Individuals can add a cup of their favorite berries on top of whole wheat pancakes in the morning or eat them as an afternoon snack with a handful of nuts to increase their fiber intake.
The digestive tract is made up of billions of bacteria. Many brands of yogurt contain probiotics, which are the 'good' bacteria or microorganisms in the gut that have been shown to improve digestive conditions such as constipation and irritable bowel disease. Individuals who want to try eating yogurt with lots of probiotics to help relieve their constipation should be on the lookout for unsweetened brands of yogurt to avoid added sugars. They can also add fresh berries to boost their fiber intake and boost the power of yogurt in helps move things along just a little bit more. Fresh berries can also add a little bit of sweetness, so including them in plain yogurt can help individuals tolerate the lack of sugar. Yogurt is also particularly good to include in smoothies.
Known for its bright pink color, rhubarb is a spring vegetable that offers the great benefit of natural constipation relief. Typically harvested in the spring, this vegetable is sold by the stalk (the leaves of the plant are inedible due to their poisonous nature) and can be found at most farmer's markets and grocery stores. It is known to gently stimulate the walls of the intestines, increasing the speed of digestion and making bowel movements easier. Experts suggest only eating rhubarb for short-term constipation relief, as consuming it for long periods or consuming too much can actually increase symptoms of constipation.
Originating in Mexico and Guatemala, chia seeds are a great natural remedy for relieving constipation. These little black and white seeds are not only a great source of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, but they also contain a high amount of dietary fiber, making them not only a great constipation reliever but a well-rounded healthy food. Chia seeds are beneficial in constipation relief due to the fact they absorb water, creating stools that are bulkier and easier to pass. Experts recommend eating three tablespoons of chia seeds per day for optimal relief. It is important to make sure to drink plenty of water when consuming them for the best benefits.
Dehydration, as discussed, is the most common reason individuals experience constipation. The more water an individual drinks, the less water their colon needs to extract from food, which makes it easier to pass, as stool with more water will be softer and require less effort to push out of the body. Coconut water is an excellent way to relieve constipation because not only does it hydrate in the same way as normal water, but it also contains electrolytes, which prevent dehydration and clean out the digestive and urinary tracts. Coconut water is especially high in potassium, which is needed for electrolyte balance in the body. Individuals should look for unsweetened brands of coconut water, as added sugars may further irritate their digestive system.