If you are already suffering from constipation, you don’t necessarily have to run to your medicine cabinet right away. There are many fiber-rich foods you can try first. If you have them available in your kitchen, they will quickly help to relieve your symptoms by inducing those vital bowel movements and gradually clear you out.
It’s extremely important to have regular bowel movements, otherwise gas and bacteria will build up and cause a slew of health problems. In extreme and rare cases, if left untreated too long, constipation can be lethal. That’s why it’s vital to keep your intestines and colon healthy and functioning properly. And one of the main ways to achieve this is to add more fiber into your diet. The FDA defines fiber as a type of carbohydrate that consists of many sugar molecules, in a pattern that’s not easily digested in the small intestine. Naturally occurring fiber is contained in plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes.
As far as how much fiber one should eat, the daily U.S. Dietary Guidelines suggest that women consume 25 grams of fiber, and men, 38 grams of fiber.
Another reason why constipation may strike at times is because of a particular diet, such as low carb, intermittent fasting, keto, etc. Although they are very helpful and possess many wonderful health benefits, these diets often restrict many of the foods that contain high amounts of fiber. In this case, you can either add a little fiber rich food to your diet, or you can sprinkle fiber powder to your drink, or both at once.
Listed below are some of the best foods to help prevent constipation from occurring altogether, especially if you’re diabetic or overweight.
Apples are an easy way to boost the fiber content of your general diet and alleviate constipation. Granny Smith apples have a particularly high fiber content.
In fact, one medium sized apple with the skin on (about 200 grams) contains 4.8 grams of fiber, which is 19% of the RDI. Although most of that fiber is insoluble, apples also contain soluble fiber, which is mostly in the form of a dietary fiber called pectin. In the gut, pectin is rapidly fermented by bacteria to form short-chain fatty acids, which can pull water into the colon, softening the stool and decreasing gut transit time.
Believe it or not, coffee is not only a diuretic, but it is also a very strong, bowel movement inducer as well. This is because coffee contains caffeine, which is a natural stimulant. Thus it is an effective, fast acting and powerful “wake up” call for your gut. So if your diet allows it, go ahead and sip that blissful cup of coffee in the morning or afternoon. Avoid drinking any caffeinated beverage in the evening hours, as this will make it harder for you to fall asleep at night.
If coffee isn’t your thing, a great alternative you can try is caffeinated tea, such as heavenly green tea. Green tea is also very beneficial for your overall health, as it helps soothe various mental health related disorders and makes you feel better and calmer in general.
Spinach, brussels sprouts and broccoli are not only rich in fiber, but also great sources of folate and vitamins C and K. These greens help add bulk and weight to stools, which makes them easier to pass through the gut.
One cup (180 grams) of cooked spinach contains 4.7 grams of fiber, or 19% of the RDI. Try adding spinach to a quiche, pie, or soup. Baby spinach or tender greens can also be added raw to salads or sandwiches for a fiber boost.
Brussels sprouts are also super healthy, with just 5 sprouts containing 14% of your daily fiber needs.
Additionally, broccoli contains 2.4 grams of fiber in just one cup (91 grams). This is equivalent to 10% of the RDI for fiber.
Chia seeds are one of the most fiber-dense foods available. Just 1 ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contains 9.8 grams of fiber, meeting 39% of your daily needs. The fiber in chia comprises 85% insoluble fiber and 15% soluble fiber.
When chia comes into contact with water, it forms a gel. In the gut, this can help soften stools and make them easier to pass. What’s more, chia can absorb up to 12 times its own weight in water, which can help add bulk and weight to stools.
Better yet, Chia seeds are very versatile and can be added to many foods, considerably boosting the fiber content without too much effort.
As aforementioned, it’s crucial to drink lots of water when you increase your fiber intake, because without it, the fiber only worsens the constipation.
Furthermore, if the water and fiber rich foods aren’t helping, call your doctor for professional advice, and ask for a suitable prescription medication/treatment right away.