If you have ever experienced constipation, which most people have at some point in their life, you know that it can be painful, embarrassing and uncomfortable. What most people don’t realize is that an unhealthy diet that lacks water and fiber can cause the slow, sluggish elimination that causes constipation. Therefore a healthy balanced diet can actually relieve and prevent constipation from occurring.
Choosing the right types of foods is imperative for normal elimination. Avoid foods that can cause constipation such as dairy products, salt, sugar, soda, meat, coffee, and alcohol. The foods that you should consume include foods that are rich in fiber and water. Foods rich in fiber include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.
Fiber softens and adds bulk to stool. It helps with the passage of stool from the intestines to the colon, while also cleaning the lining by brushing away compacted feces. Both soluble and insoluble fiber helps to alleviate and prevent constipation. This helps to determine which foods should be added into your diet. When increasing your dietary fiber it is best to gradually increase your intake until you are consuming 20-25 grams per day. Too much dietary fiber can have the opposite effect causing bloating and diarrhea.
Many fruits contain dietary fiber that can help relieve the symptoms of constipation. One to three servings of fruit should be eaten every day. In addition to their fiber content, fruits contain an abundant amount of vitamins and antioxidants. Fruits that can relieve constipation include prunes, figs, papaya, apples, pears, banana, apricots, peaches, and pineapple. Prunes and prune juice are one of the most common home remedies for constipation relief.
Much like fruits, vegetables provide additional nutritional benefits in addition to their fiber content. Leafy green vegetables provide the highest fiber content. Chard, kale, cabbage, and spinach are the leafy greens that provide a high fiber content to relieve constipation. Even more, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, green beans, peas, and squash also help to relieve the symptoms of constipation.
Legumes are rich in fiber and are a great source of protein, and minerals. Legumes are the preferred choice of protein for vegetarians however; their soluble fiber content makes them a preferred choice for treating constipation. Legumes are a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils. There are a variety of legumes to choose from such as canella, garbanzo, kidney, and pinto beans, peas, snow peas, alfalfa, clover and peanuts.
Whole grains are an essential part of anyone’s diet. Whole grains are rich with fiber as well as vitamins, and minerals. Whole grains are heart healthy, by reducing the risk for heart disease, reduce constipation, and help with weight management. Whole grain food products speed up the colon, which increases bowel out put. Many products claim to be whole grain however, its best to check the ingredient list to verify these claims. Good sources of whole grain include whole grain bread, high fiber cereal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal, and millet.
Flax or more commonly known as flaxseed, is derived from the flax plant. Flax can be consumed as a seed or ground up. When ground flax seed can be incorporated into other foods and mixtures. Studies suggest flax seed can help fight against heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer, however it also can ease constipation, bloating and abdominal pain. Flax receives its healthy reputation from its key ingredients omega 3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber. With the influx of research and newly found health benefits, flax has become increasingly easier to find and purchase. Always consume copious amounts of water after eating flax seed to receive its stool softening benefits.
Graduated with a BA in exercise science and have worked in the medical field since. My focus is alternative medicine however all aspects of health interest me. Check out my health website! Everyday Health, Live your Life to the fullest!