Millions of Americans suffer from constipation, a digestive issue that can disrupt daily routines and cause discomfort. Fortunately, there are various foods that help with constipation and promote a healthier digestive system.
Fiber is the cornerstone of a healthy digestive system and comes in two forms. Soluble fiber breaks down in water and forms a gel-like substance, while insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool.
According to the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, more than 90% of women and 97% of men fail to meet the recommended fiber intake levels.
For women ages 18 - 51, the target is 25 grams of fiber daily, while men in the same age group should aim for 38 grams. Women over 51 should strive for 21 grams of fiber, and men over 51 should aim for 30 grams daily.
Meeting these recommended fiber intake levels is crucial for maintaining proper digestive health and overall well-being.
Both types of fiber play critical roles in relieving constipation. Soluble fiber helps soften the stool, making it easier to pass, while insoluble fiber adds weight and accelerates its transit through the intestines.
Making dietary adjustments can significantly aid in managing this common issue and support your well-being. Here is a list of foods to help with constipation and enhance overall gut health -
Prunes or dried plums have both soluble and insoluble fiber, and they also contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that acts as a natural laxative, making them an excellent choice for relieving constipation.
A medium-sized apple with skin provides approximately 4.8 grams of fiber, which can significantly contribute to your daily fiber intake.
Apples contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, with pectin being the primary soluble fiber found in the fruit. Pectin ferments in the gut, producing short-chain fatty acids that increase stool weight, help soften stool and prevent constipation.
With approximately 5.5 grams of fiber per medium-sized fruit, pears are a great way to add fiber to your diet.
Like apples, pears also contain soluble and insoluble fiber and natural laxatives like fructose and sorbitol. The natural sugars in pears, such as fructose and sorbitol, draw water into the intestines, further softening the stool and promoting regular bowel movements.
This delicious tropical fruit contains approximately 2.3 grams of fiber, making it a fiber-packed snack.
It is a nutrient-dense fruit that contains soluble and insoluble fiber and an enzyme called actinidin. Actinidin helps break down proteins and facilitates digestion.
Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries are colorful fruits and good sources of fiber and water. Berries effectively reduce cholesterol and oxidative stress. Since these are low in calories, they also help with weight loss.
Leafy greens, such as spinach, collard greens, and kale, are natural laxatives and help constipation. The high fiber content in leafy greens contains essential nutrients and antioxidants that support overall gut health.
Leafy vegetables are also rich in iron and vitamin A, B, and C, which help fight iron deficiency and ensure skin health.
Unlike white rice, brown rice retains its bran and germ, making it a fiber-packed option.
A cup of cooked brown rice has approximately three grams of fiber and is a valuable addition to your diet. Pairing brown rice with cooked vegetables creates a savory, fiber-rich meal.
The high fiber content of whole grains also prevents blood clotting and reduces the chances of heart attack.
Oats are a versatile and underrated food for promoting digestive health. Besides being a fantastic source of fiber, oats contain essential minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that support overall gut health.
A cup of cooked oats contains approximately four grams of fiber, which is a great breakfast choice.
Nuts are a great source of fiber. Walnuts are at the top of the list, weighing in at approximately eight grams of fiber per cup. They’re also a good way to get magnesium, which helps in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke.
Chia seeds aren’t known as small but mighty for nothing! One ounce of dried chia seeds contains almost 10 grams of fiber. They contain abundant omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, further supporting digestion and promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
Flaxseeds are nutritional powerhouses, rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that soothe the digestive system and alleviate constipation.
Lentils boast a high fiber content, comprising soluble and insoluble fibers that work together to support a healthy digestive system.
Oranges are packed with fiber, especially soluble fiber, and are a great source of vitamin C which also helps with bowel stimulation.
The healthy fats in almonds help in nutrient absorption. Some nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning they need fat to be absorbed properly.
Unlike white bread, made from refined flour, whole-grain bread contains the entire grain, which is loaded with beneficial dietary fiber.
Important note: Make sure that the label says "whole grain". Terms like "multigrain" or "seven-grain" are misleading as they may still have white flour, which could exacerbate constipation.
While eating these foods that help constipation on a regular basis may help your situation, if it seems chronic, consider consulting a doctor for medical treatment. Chronic constipation is not a disease but can be a symptom of an underlying condition.
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Shweta Chaubey, has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2021. An advocate-turned-writer, her desire to create meaningful and positive content has brought her to HPFY and what better than writing ...
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