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Discover the 14 Healthy Foods That Help With Constipation.
Constipation is a common problem that affects an estimated 20% of the population
Delayed colonic transit, or a decrease in the movement of food through the digestive system, is one of the most common causes.
A low fiber diet, old age, and physical inactivity can also contribute to constipation.
While remedies for constipation typically include laxatives, stool softeners, and fiber supplements, incorporating a few regularly increased foods into your diet can be a safe and effective alternative.
This article lists 14 healthy foods that can help you go to the bathroom.
Apples are a good source of fiber, a small apple (5.3 ounces or 149 grams) provides 4 grams of fiber.
Fiber passes through the intestines undigested, helping with stool formation and promoting regular bowel movements.
Apples also contain a specific type of soluble fiber called pectin, which is known for its laxative effect.
In one study, 80 participants with constipation took pectin supplements.
After four weeks, pectin sped up colon transit time, reduced constipation symptoms, and even improved digestive health by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Apples can be used as a healthy coating for foods like yogurt and oatmeal or enjoyed on their own as a convenient and nutritious snack.
Prunes are often used as a natural laxative for very good reasons.
Not only do they contain 2 grams of fiber per ounce (28 grams), but they are also a good source of sorbitol.
Sorbitol is a type of sugar alcohol that is not so easily digested in the body. It helps relieve constipation by drawing water into the intestines, stimulating bowel movement.
One review examined four studies that measured the effectiveness of prunes on constipation. Prunes were found to help soften stools, improve consistency, and increase the frequency of going to the bathroom.
Another study showed that 40 constipated participants who received prunes experienced improvements in both stool consistency and frequency of going to the bathroom, compared to participants treated with psyllium fiber supplements.
Prunes add a hint of sweetness when used to garnish salads and pilafs. A small glass of unsweetened prune juice can also be a quick and convenient way to get the same benefits found in whole plums for constipation.
Kiwifruit is especially rich in fiber, which makes it an excellent food to help improve the frequency of going to the bathroom.
Just one medium kiwi (2.7 ounces or 76 grams) contains 2.3 grams of fiber.
Kiwi has been shown to stimulate movement in the digestive tract, helping to induce a bowel movement.
In a 2007 study of 33 styptics and 20 non-styptic participants, they were given kiwi twice daily for four weeks.
Kiwi helped speed up intestinal transit time, decrease laxative use, and improve constipation symptoms.
Try adding kiwi to your next smoothie for a flavorful, high-fiber treat.
In addition to its wide variety of health benefits, the high fiber content in flaxseed and its ability to improve toilet frequency make it stand out.
Each one-tablespoon (10-gram) serving of flaxseeds contains 3 grams of fiber, including a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber.
An animal study supplemented mice with flaxseed for 14 days and studied the effects on constipation.
Not only did flaxseed accelerate intestinal transit, but it also increased stool weight and its frequency in normal and styptic mice.
Another animal study showed that flaxseed can help treat both constipation and diarrhea. It was found to increase stool frequency and also have an antidiarrheal effect, reducing diarrhea by up to 84%.
Flaxseeds can add extra fiber and texture when sprinkled on oatmeal, yogurt, soups, and smoothies.
Pears can help relieve constipation in several ways.
First of all, it is high in fiber. An average pear (6.3 ounces or 178 grams) contains 6 grams of fiber, meeting up to 24% of your daily fiber needs.
Pears are also high in sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that acts as an osmotic agent to draw water in the intestines and stimulate a regular bowel movement.
Also, pears contain fructose, a type of sugar that can only be absorbed in limited amounts.
This is due to the way fructose is metabolized in your body. Not only is it absorbed at a slower rate, but large amounts of fructose can only be metabolized by the liver.
Also, some people may have fructose malabsorption, a condition that affects the body’s ability to absorb fructose.
Like sorbitol, unabsorbed fructose acts as a natural laxative by introducing water into the intestines.
Pears are incredibly versatile and convenient to add to your diet. Persians can be included in salads and sandwiches or eaten raw as a sweet snack.
Most varieties of beans are rich in fiber and can help maintain the frequency of going to the bathroom.
For example, black beans have 7.5 grams of fiber per half cup of cooked kidney beans (86 grams), while a half-cup (91 grams) of cooked navy beans contains 9.5 grams of fiber.
Beans also contain good amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber, which help relieve constipation in different ways.
Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel-like consistency, softening stool and making it easier to pass.
On the other hand, insoluble fiber passes intact through the digestive tract and adds bulk to the stool.
A 2016 study showed that including a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet can effectively reduce constipation while reducing bloating and flatulence.
If you are looking for an easy way to increase your fiber intake, beans are a good way to go. Add them to soups, sauces, or garnishes for a delicious serving of fiber.
Both the fiber content of rhubarb and the natural laxative properties favor the frequency of going to the bathroom.
Each stem of rhubarb (1.8 ounces or 51 grams) includes 1 gram of fiber, which is mostly insoluble fiber.
Rhubarb also contains a compound called sennoside A, which has a laxative effect on the body. Sennosides are even found in green laxatives like senna.
Sennoside A works by lowering the levels of AQP3, a protein that controls water transport in the intestines.
Decreased AQP3 levels result in increased water absorption, which softens the stool and causes a bowel movement.
Rhubarb can be used in a variety of baked goods, add it to yogurt, or even added to oatmeal for a splash of flavor.
Research shows that artichokes have a prebiotic effect, which can be beneficial for gut health and maintaining toilet frequency.
Prebiotics are a special type of fiber that works by feeding the good bacteria found in the colon, helping to optimize digestive health.
Consuming prebiotics can also help relieve constipation.
A 2017 review examined five studies, including 199 participants, and concluded that prebiotics increased stool frequency and improved consistency.
Artichokes, in particular, are a good source of prebiotics that can increase beneficial bacteria in the gut.
One study had 32 participants supplemented with fiber extracted from artichokes. After three weeks, they found that the concentrations of beneficial bacteria had increased, while the amounts of harmful gut bacteria had decreased.
Another study examined the effects of artichoke leaf extract in 208 participants with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Not only do artichokes reduce the incidence of IBS, but they also help normalize bowel patterns.
Artichokes are available fresh and in containers that can be used in everything from creamy sauces to tasty desserts.
Kefir is a fermented milk drink that contains probiotics, a form of healthy gut bacteria that can help relieve constipation.
Probiotics have been shown to increase stool frequency, improve stool consistency, and help reduce bowel transit time to increase bowel movements.
Several studies have shown that kefir, in particular, can promote regularity of going to the bathroom.
In one study, 20 participants with constipation were given kefir for four weeks.
Kefir was found to decrease laxative use, accelerate intestinal transit, increase frequency, and improve stool consistency.
An animal study found similar results, showing that kefir increases moisture and bulk in stool to reduce constipation.
Kefir is the perfect base for smoothies or salad dressings. Alternatively, try making a probiotic-rich parfait using kefir and topping it with fruit, flaxseed, or oatmeal for an extra fiber boost.
Figs are a great way to get more fiber in your diet to encourage regular bowel movements.
Dried figs can provide a concentrated dose of fiber.
A half-cup (75 grams) of dried figs contains 7.5 grams of fiber, which can meet up to 30% of the daily fiber needs.
A 2011 animal study looked at the effects of fig paste on constipation over three weeks. Fig paste was found to increase stool weight and reduce intestinal transit time, making it an ideal natural remedy for constipation.
Another human study found that giving fig paste to 40 constipated participants helped speed up colon transit, improve stool consistency, and relieve abdominal discomfort.
While figs can be consumed on their own, they can also be boiled into a savory treat that pairs very well with bruschetta, pizzas, and sandwiches.
In addition to providing several vitamins and minerals, sweet potatoes also contain a good amount of fiber that can help increase regularity.
One medium sweet potato (4 ounces or 114 grams) contains 4 grams of fiber.
The fiber found in potatoes is mostly insoluble fiber, which also includes some specific types, such as cellulose, lignin, and pectin.
Thanks to its fiber content, some studies have shown that potatoes can help promote bowel movements.
A 2016 study measured the effects of eating potatoes on constipation in 57 leukemia patients receiving chemotherapy.
After just four days, most of the constipation markers had improved, and the participants who consumed sweet potatoes had significantly less stress and discomfort than the other group.
Sweet potatoes can be mashed, baked, sautéed, or roasted and used in place of white potatoes in any of your favorite recipes.
This edible legume is packed with fiber, which is an excellent addition to your diet to relieve constipation.
A half-cup (99 grams) of cooked lentils contains an impressive 8 grams of fiber.
Additionally, consuming lentils can increase the production of butyric acid, a type of short-chain fatty acid found in the colon. Increases movement in the digestive tract to improve bowel movements.
An animal study examined the effects of butyrate on the digestive tract and found that it helped speed up intestinal transit, making it a potential treatment for constipation.
Lentils add a rich, healthy flavor to both soups and salads, while also providing plenty of fiber and additional health benefits.
Just one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contains no more and no less than 11 grams of fiber.
Chia seeds are made up of 40% of their weight in fiber, making them one of the most fiber-dense foods available.
Specifically, chia seeds are a good source of soluble fiber, which absorbs water to form a gel that softens and moistens the stool for easier passage.
One study found that chia seeds could absorb up to 12 times their weight in water, allowing for even easier water removal.
Try mixing chia seeds into smoothies, puddings, and yogurts to add in a few extra grams of soluble fiber.
Oat bran is a type of whole grain produced from the outer shell of oat bran.
Although not as widely consumed as rolled or regular oats, oat bran contains much more fiber.
Just a third of a cup (31 grams) of oat bran contains about 5 grams of fiber, which is about 43% more than traditional varieties of oats.
In one study, 15 elderly people were fed oat bran for 12 weeks and the results were compared with a group that was not fed oat bran.
Not only was oat bran well-tolerated, but it also helped participants maintain their body weight and decreased laxative use by 59%, making it a safe and effective natural remedy for constipation.
Although oatmeal and oat bran come from the same grain of oats, they vary in terms of texture and flavor. Oat bran works especially well when used in recipes like granola mixes and bread.
Constipation is a common problem that affects most people at some point.
Although medications and supplements can help, achieving regularity is possible for most people with a healthy, high-fiber diet, plus some foods that increase the frequency of going to the bathroom.
Including a few servings of these foods each day, along with plenty of water and regular physical activity, can help increase frequency, improve stool consistency, and eliminate constipation once and for all.