Constipation is a common problem that affects an estimated 20% of the population. The delay of colonic transit, or a decrease in the movement of food through the digestive system, is one of the most common causes. A low fiber diet, old age and physical inactivity can also contribute to constipation. While constipation remedies typically include laxatives, stool softeners, and fiber supplements, the incorporation of regularly increased foods into your diet can be a safe and effective alternative.
Apples are a good source of fiber, a small apple (5.3 ounces or 149 grams) provides 4 grams of fiber. The fiber passes through the intestines without digesting, helping with the formation of feces and promoting regular bowel movements. Apples also contain a specific type of soluble fiber called pectin, which is known for its laxative effect. In one study, 80 participants with constipation took pectin supplements. After four weeks, pectin accelerated the transit time in the colon, reduced constipation symptoms and even improved digestive health by increasing the amount of beneficial bacteria in the intestine. Apples can be used as a healthy coating for foods such as yogurt and oatmeal or enjoyed on their own as a convenient and nutritious snack.
Prunes are often used as a natural laxative for very good reasons. Not only do they contain 2 grams of fiber every ounce (28 grams), but they are also a good source of sorbitol. Sorbitol is a type of sugar alcohol that is not digested so easily in the body.
“It helps relieve constipation by extracting water in the intestines, stimulating bowel movement”.
One review examined four studies that measured the effectiveness of prunes in constipation. It was found that prunes can help soften stool, improve consistency and increase the frequency of going to the bathroom. Another study showed that 40 participants with constipation who received prunes experienced improvements in both the consistency of stool and the frequency of going to the bathroom, compared to participants treated with psyllium fiber supplements. Prunes add a touch of sweetness when used to decorate salads and pilafs.A small glass of sugar-free plum juice can also be a quick and convenient way to get the same benefits found in whole plums with respect to constipation.
Kiwi is especially rich in fiber, which makes it an excellent food to help improve the frequency of going to the bathroom. Only one medium kiwi (2.7 ounces or 76 grams) contains 2.3 grams of fiber. Kiwi has been shown to stimulate movement in the digestive tract, helping to induce bowel movement. In a 2007 study with 33 esthetic and 20 non-esthetic participants, they were given kiwi twice a day for a period of four weeks. The kiwi helped speed up the intestinal transit time, decrease the use of laxatives and improve constipation symptoms. Try adding kiwi to your next smoothie for a tasty and fiber-rich treatment.
4. Flaxseed Seeds:
In addition to its wide variety of health benefits, the high fiber content in flaxseed and its ability to improve the frequency of going to the bathroom definitely make it stand out. Each serving of a tablespoon (10 grams) of flaxseed seeds contains 3 grams of fiber, including a mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber. An animal study supplemented mice with flaxseed for 14 days and studied the effects on constipation. Not only did flaxseed accelerate intestinal transit, but it also increased stool weight and its frequency in normal and esthetic mice. Another study in animals showed that flaxseed can help treat both constipation and diarrhea. It was found that it increased the frequency of feces and also had an antidiarrheal effect, reducing diarrhea by up to 84%. Flaxseed seeds can add extra fiber and texture when sprinkled on oatmeal, yogurt, soups and smoothies.
Pears can help relieve constipation in different ways. First, it has a high fiber content. An average pear (6.3 ounces or 178 grams) contains 6 grams of fiber, satisfying up to 24% of your daily fiber needs. Pears also have a high content of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that acts as an osmotic agent to extract water in the intestines and stimulate regular bowel movement. In addition, pears contain fructose, a type of sugar that can only be absorbed in limited quantities. This is due to the way fructose is metabolized in your body. Not only is it absorbed at a slower rate, but also large amounts of fructose can only be metabolized by the liver. In addition, some people may have poor fructose absorption, a condition that affects the body’s ability to absorb fructose. Like sorbitol, non-absorbed fructose acts as a natural laxative by introducing water into the intestines. Pears are incredibly versatile and comfortable to add to your diet. You can include Persians in salads and sandwiches or consume them raw as a sweet snack.
Most bean varieties are rich in fiber and can help maintain the frequency of going to the bathroom. For example, black beans have 7.5 grams of fiber per half cup of cooked beans (86 grams), while a half cup (91 grams) of cooked white beans contains 9.5 grams of fiber. Beans also contain good amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber, which help relieve constipation in different ways. Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel-like consistency, softening stool and making it easier to pass. On the other hand, insoluble fiber passes intact through the digestive tract and adds volume to the feces. A study in 2016 showed that the inclusion of a mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber in the diet can effectively reduce constipation, while reducing swelling and flatulence. If you are looking for an easy way to increase fiber consumption, beans are a good way to do it. Add them to soups, sauces or side dishes for a delicious portion of fiber.
Both rhubarb fiber content and natural laxative properties favor the frequency of going to the bathroom. Each stem of rhubarb (1.8 ounces or 51 grams) includes 1 gram of fiber, which is mostly insoluble fiber. Rhubarb also contains a compound called sennoside A, which has a laxative effect on the body. In fact, sennosides are found even in green laxatives as senna. Sennoside A, works by lowering the levels of AQP3, a protein that controls the transport of water in the intestines. The decrease in AQP3 levels translates into greater water absorption, which softens stool and causes bowel movement. Rhubarb can be used in a variety of baked goods, add it to yogurt or even added to oatmeal to give it a touch of flavor.
Research shows that artichokes have a prebiotic effect, which can be beneficial for intestinal health and maintain the frequency of going to the bathroom. Prebiotics are a special type of fiber that works by feeding the good bacteria found in the colon, helping to optimize digestive health. Consuming prebiotics can also help relieve constipation. A review in 2017 examined five studies, included 199 participants, and concluded that prebiotics increased stool frequency and improved consistency. Artichokes, in particular, are a good source of prebiotics that can increase beneficial bacteria in the intestine. One study had 32 participants supplemented with fiber extracted from artichokes. After three weeks, they found that the concentrations of beneficial bacteria had increased, while the amounts of harmful intestinal bacteria had decreased. Another study examined the effects of artichoke leaf extract in 208 participants with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Not only do artichokes reduce the incidence of IBS, but they also help normalize bowel patterns. Artichokes are available in fresh form and in containers that can be used in everything from creamy sauces to tasty desserts.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that contains probiotics, a form of healthy intestinal bacteria that can help relieve constipation. Probiotics have been shown to increase stool frequency, improve stool consistency and help reduce intestinal transit time to increase bowel movements. Several studies have shown that kefir, in particular, can promote regularity of going to the bathroom. In one study, 20 participants with constipation were given kefir for four weeks. It was found that kefir decreased the use of laxatives, accelerated intestinal transit, increased frequency and improved stool consistency. An animal study found similar results, demonstrating that kefir increases moisture and volume in feces to reduce constipation. Kefir is the perfect base for smoothies or salad dressings. Alternatively, try to make a probiotic-rich parfait using kefir and cover it with fruits, flaxseed or oatmeal for extra fiber reinforcement.
Figs are a great way to get more fiber in your diet to encourage regular bowel movements. Dried figs can provide a concentrated dose of fiber. A half cup (75 grams) of dried figs contains 7.5 grams of fiber, which can meet up to 30% of daily fiber needs. An animal study in 2011 analyzed the effects of fig paste on constipation over a period of three weeks. It was found that fig paste increased stool weight and reduced intestinal transit time, making it an ideal natural remedy for constipation. Another study in humans found that giving fig paste to 40 participants with constipation helped accelerate colon transit, improve stool consistency and relieve abdominal discomfort. While figs can be consumed on their own, it can also be boiled in a tasty sweet that combines very well with bruschetta, pizzas and snacks.
11. Sweet Potatoes:
In addition to providing a series of vitamins and minerals, sweet potatoes also contain a good amount of fiber that can help increase regularity. A medium sweet potato (4 ounces or 114 grams) contains 4 grams of fiber. The fiber found in potatoes is mostly insoluble fiber that also includes some specific types, such as cellulose, lignin and pectin. Thanks to its fiber content, some studies have shown that potatoes can help promote bowel movements. A 2016 study measured the effects of eating potatoes on constipation in 57 patients with leukemia who were receiving chemotherapy. After only four days, most constipation markers had improved, and participants who consumed sweet potatoes had significantly less stress and discomfort than the other group. Sweet potatoes can be crushed, baked, sauteed or roasted and used instead of white potatoes in any of your favorite recipes.
This edible vegetable is full of fiber, which is an excellent integration to your diet to relieve constipation. In fact, a half cup (99 grams) of cooked lentils impressively contains 8 grams of fiber. In addition, the consumption of lentils can increase the production of butyric acid, a type of short chain fatty acid found in the colon. Increases movement in the digestive tract to improve bowel movements. An animal study examined the effects of butyrate on the digestive tract and found that it helped accelerate intestinal transit, which makes it a potential treatment for constipation. Lentils add a rich and healthy flavor to both soups and salads, while also providing plenty of fiber and additional health benefits.
13. Chia Seeds:
Only one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contains nothing more and nothing less than 11 grams of fiber. In fact, chia seeds are composed of 40% of their weight in fiber, which makes them one of the most dense fiber available foods. Specifically, chia seeds are a good source of soluble fiber, which absorbs water to form a gel that softens and moistens feces to facilitate passage. One study found that chia seeds could absorb up to 12 times their weight in water, which makes water removal even easier. Try mixing the chia seeds in shakes, puddings and yogurts to add in a few additional grams of soluble fiber.
14. Oat Bran:
Oat bran is a type of whole grain produced from the outer shell of oat bran. Although it is not as widely consumed as rolled or usual oats, oat bran contains much more fiber. Only one third of a cup (31 grams) of oat bran contains about 5 grams of fiber, which is approximately 43% more than traditional oatmeal varieties. In one study, 15 elderly people were fed oat bran for a period of 12 weeks and the results were compared with a group that was not fed oat bran. Not only was oat bran well tolerated, but it also helped participants maintain their body weight and decreased the use of laxatives by 59%, making it a safe and effective natural remedy for constipation. Although oatmeal and oat bran come from the same grain of oats, they vary in terms of texture and flavor. Oat bran works especially well when used in recipes such as granola and bread mixes.
Constipation is a common problem that affects most people at some time. Although medications and supplements can help, achieving regularity is possible for most people on a fiber-rich and healthy diet, in addition to some foods that increase the frequency of going to the bathroom. Including some portions of these foods each day, along with plenty of water and regular physical activity, can help increase the frequency, improve stool consistency and eliminate constipation once and for all.