Irregular bowel movement or constipation is a common problem that occurs in people of all ages. Constipation can make the bowel too hard or infrequent or even make it difficult for the bowel to pass. Although there are various causes behind constipation, but the main cause certainly is a diet that is inadequate in fibre. Hence, choosing a diet that is rich in fibre and avoiding foods that instigate constipation is always helpful.
Constipation is indeed a matter of much awkwardness for many. However, the fact is that more than 42 million people alone in the United States of America are afflicted with this condition. Although different people have different bathroom habits, if there are three or even fewer bowel movements in a week, it can lead to constipation. Therefore, sticking to a diet that will relieve you from constipation is beneficial.
Diets to Relieve Constipation
According to the American Dietetic Association, 38 grams of fibre is recommended for men and 25 grams of fibre is recommended for women per day. This daily requirement is reduced to 30 grams and 21 grams respectively for men and women, after they reach 50 years of age. However, the body gets only 15 grams of fibre every day.
There are certain surprising foods that can make it easy for us to move bowel, as soon as we plop on the toilet, without any push or without depleting our energy. Constipation is a sign of poor fat digestion, toxic liver and imbalanced gut microbes caused by inadequate supply of foods without or with very little fibres, not drinking enough fluids and also due to lack of exercise. If you incorporate these fibrous foods into your diet, it will make sure that bloating and gassy feelings have gradually disappeared and you get rid of constipation.
Beans, Legumes & Nuts for Constipation
The most useful high fibrous foods certainly are the beans. The different kinds of beans, such as navy, Lima, baked; pinto, garbanzo, black eyed, and kidney etc. are rich in fibre content. Half-a-cup of beans have 6.2 to 9.6 grams of fibre. Adding beans to soups, salads, pasta or casseroles during different meals is a very good way to supply your body with the daily fibre requirement for relieving constipation.
Your diet for constipation should also include different kinds of lentils and nuts like peanuts, walnuts, and almonds which are also rich sources of fibre. Adding these foods to your regular diet in small portions is a good idea for constipation woes.
Fruits: Great for Constipation & Health
Fruits, such as prunes, kiwi and figs in your diet are very good for eliminating constipation and make your bowel movement smoother. Prunes or dried plums are very rich in fibre with about 1 g of fibre present in each prune. Since prunes have fermentable sugars, such as fructans and sorbitol, these fruits in your diet even gives a laxative effect and hence, are very good for constipation. Whereas, most other fruits are high on the fructose content, causing gas, kiwi is comparatively low on fructose, but very high in fibre content. You can get 5 grams of fibre from a cup of kiwis.
Berries, apricots, peaches, raisins, plums and rhubarb are some of the other fruits that are very rich in fibre content and are a must have in your diet for constipation. About half-a-cup of fresh strawberries provides 2 grams, blackberries provide 3.8 grams and raspberries provide 4 grams of fibre. Most of the fibre contents are stored right beneath the skin of the fruit. Hence, eating these fruits with skin, if they have edible skin is better for your constipation.
Grains: A Must in Diet for Constipation
Whole grain cereals, breads, wheat bran cereal, ground flax seed; oatmeal and barley are all rich in fibre and great for preventing and treating constipation. Replacing your white bread and pasta with these grains in your diet will supply you with a good deal of fibre for your daily fibre requirement. About 1 ounce of wheat bran cereal gives you 10 grams of fibre. You must plan your diet according to the content of fibre in these foods. Chinese research has proved that those who ate rice in their daily meals had a happier gut. About 41% of these people have lower constipation rate. However, when the fibre content in rice is being considered, brown rice is a better option as it contains 4 grams of fibre in one cup of rice, whereas, white rice contains only 1 gram of fibre per cup. Rye on the other hand is rich in Arabinoxylan, the dietary fibre that helps the food to move smoothly through intestine.
Fluids: The Best Way for Constipation Relief
About 70% weight of the bowel motions comes from water content, since fibres absorb a lot of water. Hence, supplying your body with a good deal of water is essential. Drinking warm to hot liquids during the entire day, especially in the morning as the general toilet habit associates bowel movement in the morning, will prevent constipation and help the bowel to pass smoothly. In that case, warm herbal teas are very helpful. If you do not like to have tea of coffee, even a glass of hot water or milk in your diet will do for relieving constipation.
Fruit juices can also be good source of fluids, provided you do not add any sugar to them. Aerated and carbonated drinks are not at all recommended when suffering from constipation or otherwise. A daily consumption of eight glasses of water is beneficial and is a must if you want to get rid of constipation for good.
Popcorn: A Healthy Snack for Constipation
Not many know that this low calorie diet food item is beneficial for getting rid of constipation. Popcorn is very rich in fibre and contains 1 gram fibre in one cup of popcorn. This might sound little, but popcorn is very light in weight and occupies much space. Hence, a cup will have only a few popcorns and you can consume up to 3 cups of popcorn a day, that will provide you with 3 grams of fibre easily, with only 93 calories consumed. Popcorn is a very useful low fat snack item that you can happily add in your diet for constipation, which will make your bowel movement easy.
Sweet Potatoes, Instead of Regular Potatoes
Replacing your usual potato consumption with sweet potatoes, especially in the baked form is the most useful way of keeping your diet low in calories and also getting supplied with a good deal of fibre to deal with constipation problem. A medium sweet potato baked with skin has 3.8 grams of fibre. So replace your regular potatoes with sweet potatoes in your diet for constipation.
Broccoli and Other Veggies: Great for Constipation
About half-a-cup of cooked broccoli contains 2.8 grams of fibre. Broccoli is very low in calories and if you choose to bake, broil, steam and boil the broccoli, instead of frying them, this food item becomes even healthier. Spinach is also very good in terms of fibre content, as one cup of cooked spinach has 4 grams of fibre. One cup of French green beans also has 4 grams of fibre. One unnoticed and not so liked veggie is radish that helps the body to push excess bile out, detoxify the liver and promote peristalsis which relieves constipation. This provides a healthy bowel movement by retaining water and helping the digestion procedure. Be sure to have your fill of veggies for constipation.
Coffee for Constipation
Coffee promotes peristalsis and stimulates the movement of the colonic muscles leading to smoother bowel movement. About one or two cups of coffee will facilitate your bowel movement. Your daily morning coffee is a great way for your constipation.
Foods to Avoid in Constipation
Just incorporating the foods that are rich in fibre content is not a good solution to eliminate or get rid of constipation. You must also avoid those foods that cause constipation. Foods that you should avoid including in your diet for constipation are:
Say No To Processed Foods
Processed foods always destroy the nutrient contents of the food and are often high in fat and calorie content. Hence, avoiding them will help you to pass stool easily not to mention making you healthier. Frozen meals, meats and fish that are processed and frozen must be strictly avoided for preventing and treating constipation.
Avoid Excessive Alcohol & Even Coffee
Both these drinks have caffeine content and when these are consumed in high quantities, they can disturb the bowel movement routine and cause constipation.
Fast Foods & Fatty Foods
Fast foods are very high in calorie content and are full of trans-fats. Fast foods often cause constipation and must be avoided completely in your diet. Avoiding fast and fatty foods will keep the gastrointestinal system and the body healthy in every possible way. Hot dogs, doughnuts, burgers, pastries, potato chips, sausage, and French fries and other fried foods should be completely eliminated from your daily diet if you do not want to suffer from constipation.
Dairy Products Are Not A Good Idea
Cheese, ice cream etc. are full of fat and absolutely unhealthy for having a smooth bowel movement. Hence, dairy items are a strict NO for a diet for constipation.
Home Remedies for Constipation
In order to prevent constipation and to gradually eliminate the tendency of having constipation, your diet is very helpful. However, those who are suffering from severe constipation can try these home remedies to get rid of this gut problem:
- Add a teaspoon of dried marshmallow leaves and flowers to a cup of water and drink it twice a day and see the difference this home remedy makes in your constipation.
- Add diluted tamarind pulp in water and drink 3 times a day to get rid of constipation.
- Add sesame seeds to your meals to get rid of constipation.
- Consume a teaspoon of olive oil on an empty stomach for constipation.
- Eat ripe fruits like papaya and jackfruit before breakfast for relief from constipation.
- Another great home remedy for constipation is cooking chicory leaves with your food.
- Make decoction of dried dog rose leaves or decoction of carob tree pots and drink it to treat constipation at home.
- Do not skip meals and drink plenty of water.
- Drink aloe vera juice or consume dried aloe vera daily for alleviating constipation.
If none of these home remedies or laxatives and purgatives works for your constipation, you must see a doctor for further treatment methods. However, having a healthy diet habit is always a good way to avoid constipation.
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