Constipation is one of the common problems in the digestive system. It is estimated that it affects up to 20% of the world’s population.
With reduced bowel movements, one will present hard, lumpy stools which are stone-like in appearance. It is also characterized by pain when passing stool, feelings of retained stool even after leaving the toilet, and swollen belly. Constipation can be caused by several factors, delayed colonic transit included. It occurs when there is decreased movement of food along the alimentary canal. Other common causes include intake of low dietary fiber, aging, and prolonged sitting.
In most cases, a health practitioner will prescribe laxatives, stool softeners, and supplements of fiber to help relieve your constipation. This article gives examples of some foods you may also want to use for constipation relief.
Best Foods That Can Help You Poop
The way food is received and perceived in our bowels, is different from one individual to the other. The foods explained below are among the best that can help you treat constipation.
Did you even think of it? You need to always stay hydrated. One of the common causes of constipation is dehydration. Taking sips frequently is one way to keep yourself hydrated and free of constipation.
When you are dehydrated, your intestines will absorb most water making your stool become hard, dry, and lumpy.
2. Yogurt and Kefir
Your digestive system needs to stay healthy function properly. Probiotics are microorganisms that help keep it that way. Kefir and yogurt are the best sources of probiotics. These microbes are also called “good gut bacteria” they help soften the stool and cleanse your gut.
One study conducted in 2014, investigated the effects of probiotics in yogurt containing polydextrose, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus acidophilus against constipation. At the end of the 2-week study, researchers observed that colonic transit was increased and wastes moved faster out of the bowel in patients with chronic constipation. They were given 180 ml of yogurt per day for the entire study period.
Apples are among foods high in fiber. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central database, 149 grams of an apple contains about 3.6 g of fiber.
Fiber passes through the upper digestive tract escaping digestion and gets to the colon where it feeds the probiotics and stimulates regular movements of the bowel. Additionally, apples contain a soluble fiber known as pectin, which has laxative effects.
You can enjoy eating apple whole as it is, or you can add to other foods like crepes, oatmeal, and yogurt.
Prunes can help you poop as it has natural laxative effects. The database found at the Nutrition Data indicated that 32 grams (4 prunes) are loaded with 2 g of fiber and up to 7% of the daily recommended value for vitamin A and potassium.
Sorbitol, an alcoholic sugar present in prunes is usually digested poorly by the body. While in the intestines, sorbitol helps in drawing water back into the intestines hence promoting bowel movements.
One study randomized study whose results were published in Research Gate investigated prunes and psyllium for treating constipation. Researchers found that participants who took prunes experienced an improvement in stool frequency and consistency than those who took psyllium fiber supplements.
You can blend prunes and their juice without adding sugar for quick relief of constipation.
Kiwi is also another excellent source of fiber, making it one of the best foods you can use to relieve constipation. FoodData Central’s database indicates that in every 69 grams or one medium-sized kiwi, there are about 2 grams of fiber.
It helps reduce constipation by stimulating and inducing movements in the bowel. One study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, investigated 53 people, 20 healthy ones, and 33 constipated patients by giving them kiwi twice a day. By the end of a 4-week study period, it was observed that their use of laxatives reduced, intestinal transit increased, and they had reduced symptoms of constipation.
Lentils are a good source of fiber and an excellent remedy for constipation. The U.S Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central database states that 99 grams of boiled lentils contain 8 grams of fiber.
What’s more, is that lentils stimulate the production of butyric acid- a short-chain fatty acid that is found present in the large intestines. Butyric acid stimulates bowel movements.
Nearly all varieties of beans are high in fiber. 86 grams of cooked black beans, for instance, contains 7.5 g of fiber, while 91 g of cooked navy beans boast 9.5 g of fiber.
Both soluble and insoluble fibers are contained in beans and both work differently. According to the study findings by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, soluble fiber helps draw water back into the intestines, softens stool, and promotes the formation of gel-like stool consistency making it easier to move.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool since it passes the entire digestive tract undigested.
This is also another natural remedy for constipation. Pears are highly loaded with fiber in such a way that it has 6 g of fiber in one medium-sized pear weighing 178 g. That provides you with up to 16% and 25% of the daily recommended value for fiber in women and men respectively.
They also contain sorbitol which helps pull water back into the intestines softening your stool.
Figs can add more fiber into your regular diet to help promote regular bowel movements. Nutrition Data’s database indicates that 75 g of dried figs contains 7.5 g of fiber. That is almost 25% of the daily recommended value for fiber in men.
10. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber alongside vitamins and minerals. 150 grams of sweet potatoes contains 4 g of fiber. Lignin, pectin, and cellulose insoluble fiber are found in sweet potatoes. They add bulk to your stool and promote bowel movement.
Constipation affects many people and is caused by low intake of fiber, prolonged sitting, and reduced colonic transit. It presents with hard, dry, and lumpy stool which causes pain and discomfort when eliminating. Natural foods like prunes, water, and sweet potatoes can help prevent and improve constipation.