- Diet Tips for Digestive Health
- What to eat if you’re constipated:
- Bananas: cause or cure of constipation?
- Bananas – constipation trigger?
- Bananas – remedy for constipation?
- Laxative Types
- How Do Laxatives Work?
- Foods that Improve Digestive Function
- Best Natural Laxatives
- Laxative Dangers
- Risks and Side Effects
- What is constipation?
- What causes constipation?
- Can eating more fiber help with constipation?
- Guidelines to Treat Constipation
- Eggs and constipation
- Is eating raw eggs good?
Diet Tips for Digestive Health
Simple changes can improve your diet and help relieve constipation:
- Add veggies. You don’t have to count grams of fiber to get the amount you need. Instead, aim to eat 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables every day. Make sandwiches with roasted veggies, add a salad instead of fries to your meal, buy pre-cut vegetables to snack on with low-fat dip, keep the fruit bowl full for a handy and healthy snack, and add chopped, dried fruit to oatmeal and cereal.
- Go for grains. Replace white bread, white rice, and regular pasta with whole-grain bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice. Eat more whole oats, multigrain cereals, and whole wheat crackers — but be sure to choose low-fat and low-sugar options. Snack on air-popped popcorn instead of chips. When you buy cereal, choose brands that have at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
- Bulk up on beans. Replace meat with a bean or legume dish at least once or twice a week. Add cooked beans to salads, and try bean soups and stews as main courses.
- Add fiber gradually. Make changes slowly over the course of a week or so — if you up fiber too quickly, you could end up feeling bloated and gassy. Be patient — it may take time for your body to adjust.
- Consider a fiber supplement. If you have trouble getting enough fiber in your diet, a supplement might help. Also called bulk-forming laxatives, they’re generally safe. Just be sure to talk with your doctor before you use them as they can make some medications not work as well.
- Stay hydrated. If you add more fiber to your diet either with food or supplements, be sure to drink more fluids, too. Choose low or no-calorie beverages — sugary soda and fruit drinks will add extra calories you don’t need.
During treatment, your eating habits may change and you may be less physically active. You also may feel weak, in pain, and uncomfortable. All of these factors can cause constipation (less frequent bowel movements with stools that are difficult to pass). Not drinking enough liquids and not eating enough also can be part of the cause of constipation. In addition, constipation can be a side effect of some chemotherapy medications. Learn more about the causes of constipation and medicines that can help.
Talk to your doctors about any bowel movements that are hard or very loose, or if you have cramps, stomach pain, gas, or no bowel movements for 3 days.
What to eat if you’re constipated:
- Avoid foods that may lead to constipation. Some common ones are bananas, cheese, and eggs. Different foods affect people differently.
- Drink more fluids to prevent dehydration — about 8 to 12 glasses each day (unless your doctor has advised something else). Consider water, prune juice, and warm fluids in the morning such as herbal tea or hot lemonade.
- Eat more high-fiber foods, such as whole-grain breads and cereals, beans, fresh raw vegetables, fresh raw fruits or cooked fruits with the peel on, dried fruits, dates, apricots, prunes, popcorn, seeds, and nuts. Fiber isn’t digested by the body, so it moves through and is excreted. Fiber also absorbs a lot of water in the bowels, which makes stools softer and easier to pass. Make sure you drink more fluids if you eat more fiber, or your constipation might become worse.
- Make sure your breakfast includes high-fiber foods and a hot drink. Warm beverages are calming and may help stimulate bowel movement.
- Drink caffeine in moderation. It has been shown to help constipation. Make sure that you drink plenty of non-caffeinated beverages, too, so you don’t become dehydrated.
Was this article helpful? /
Last modified on May 8, 2013 at 9:53 AM
There’s one simple way to know if it’s time to back off on the bananas for a bit. And nope, it’s not having a freezer jam-packed with loaf upon loaf of banana bread or being that girl who buys them by the boxful at Whole Foods. It’s actually what’s going on with your bowel movements… or lack thereof. Yep, buckle up. We’re going there.
Plenty of different types of food cause constipation. Some aren’t too surprising, like red meat and fried foods. But then there are the seemingly healthy staples that can cause issues in the bathroom too, and one of the prime culprits is the beloved banana. While bananas are packed with nutrients—like potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6—Max Lugavere, the health and nutrition expert behind Genius Foods, says they can also have a major downside depending on which stage of ripeness you’re into.
There are three parts of a banana’s life cycle: green, yellow, and brown. When they’re green—or unripe—they’re a great source of prebiotics. Unfortunately, because they contain the highest amount of hard-to-digest starch at the time, they can leave you very constipated. As the banana ripens and turns yellow, it’s sweeter, contains a higher amount of antioxidants, and digests more quickly. Yellow bananas also contain soluble fiber that supports your digestion instead of slowing it down, finally helping you poop (or simply stay consistent).
So what about brown bananas? They’re easy to digest as well, meaning your banana bread obsession is totally A-okay. And extra bonus: They’re also at their sweetest and contain the highest antioxidant levels. When it comes down to it, you can still eat as much of the fruit as you want. But if you want to stay regular—and I know you know what I mean by regular—avoid the green guys at all costs.
View this post on Instagram
Here’s our best healthy banana bread recipe:
Here’s why the key to a good night’s sleep might be eating a banana before bed. Also, you should probably know about these healthy ways to use overripe bananas before they start a fruit fly fan club.
Bananas: cause or cure of constipation?
The trusty banana has become the centre of much debate regarding the subject of constipation. Some people believe they act as a trigger, whilst others swear by them to help relieve it. Here I aim to explore the reasons why confusion rages on over bananas, and to discuss why they might be a cause or cure.
Are bananas a trigger for constipation or a remedy for constipation? Confused? We aim to clear up the confusion!
Bananas – constipation trigger?
Bananas are a high starch fruit, so as a result, if you suffer from constipation it is key that you always ensure that bananas are nice and ripe when you eat them. If a banana is unripe it will have green skin with high levels of starch. This high starch content may be a trigger for constipation. Keep bananas in your fruit bowl until the skin turns a lovely yellow with plenty of brown speckles.
Green bananas contain high levels of starch
High sugar content
Due to their high starch content, bananas are deliciously sweet, and as a result contain large quantities of simple carbohydrates, in the form of glucose, fructose and maltose. We know that sugar (a simple carbohydrate) can cause constipation as it has the ability to slow down transit time through the large intestine. You can read more about carbohydrates causing constipation here.
Rich in pectin
Bananas are rich in a compound known as pectin. Pectin has a strong binding ability (it is the key ingredient in fruit jams, helping them to solidify). Some people are more sensitive to pectin than others, and as it has a binding effect on the stool, eating too much pectin in the form of too many bananas may cause constipation. The upper limit on banana intake varies from person to person, and if you feel you are sensitive to pectin, act cautiously and try to note whether they are starting to have a negative impact on your digestion.
It is common belief by many natural health practitioners that bananas are a mucus forming food. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, bananas are regarded as a cold and damp food, which can produce excess mucus. As a result they may contribute to constipation, and it may also be helpful to avoid eating bananas when you are suffering from a cold, cough or hayfever to help reduce mucus and phlegm production.
Bananas – remedy for constipation?
Good source of fibre
A medium sized banana provides a generous dose of dietary fibre, as much as 3g. This is around 10% of our recommended daily intake of fibre – and can therefore be a useful addition to your daily diet, helping to keep your bowels healthy and regular. It is important to ensure you drink plenty of water in addition to eating fibrous foods, as the fibre has the effect of bulking up the stool, and it requires fluid to help its transit through the large intestine.
Bananas are a rich source of the mineral potassium, known as an electrolyte. Electrolytes are important in maintaining the balance of fluid in our cells. We know that it is important to ensure we are properly hydrated in order to support bowel function, and as a result the potassium in bananas may be helpful in contributing to our optimal hydration. This will help to keep our digestion moving and bowel functioning as it should. However, if we eat too many bananas, this may upset the balance of electrolytes, causing things to slow down, therefore leading to constipation. As mentioned previously, always ensure drinking plenty of water alongside your banana intake.
Source of FOS
Bananas are a rich source of Fructooligosaccharides (FOS); a type of prebiotic, and a unique compound not broken down by enzymes in our digestive tract. As a result, FOS provides a food source for our gut’s friendly bacteria, which are important for maintaining good digestive health and reducing constipation. Interestingly, one study involving female participants eating 2 bananas a day each for 2 months led to a significant increase in the bacteria type Bifidobacteria. These participants experienced fewer digestive problems and more regular bowel function than the women in the study taking the placebo, therefore demonstrating that bananas can be an effective remedy for helping relieve constipation. If you would like to read more about the benefits of probiotic bacteria for reducing constipation click here.
For those with ongoing digestive problems, you may be familiar with the FODMAPs diet, in which case you will be pleased to learn that bananas are a low FODMAP food. Whilst a FODMAPs diet does not address the root cause of digestive problems such as constipation, it is reported to be effective at reducing symptoms. Please do note however that a green, unripe banana is considered a high FODMAP food so is certainly best avoided (you can read more here).
A healthy toddler snack?
As many parents know, bananas are a particular favourite with toddlers. They are easy to transport due to their own protective skin, so are a practical snack for mums and dads to carry should the need for a snack arise. They are naturally sweet with a lovely soft texture, perfect for little ones, especially as their new teeth are forming. Speaking from personal experience, there appears to be no limit to the number of bananas a toddler can eat in one day(!) – but the question that needs to be asked is whether bananas could possibly be contributing to constipation in babies and children? If bananas are consumed in moderation, at a maxiumum of 2 per day, and are given to childen when ripe and yellow, this should not be the case. Young children often suffer from constipation and there are a number of potential triggers – you can read more here.
Bananas are a healthy food for toddlers but do they trigger constipation?
Unfortunately there is no clear cut answer, but hopefully I have helped to explain the reasons why bananas may trigger constipation in some, but may also act as a remedy for in others. At the end of the day, it is good to question all of your food sources, but it is unlikely that bananas alone are the sole cause. Read naturopath & herbalist Megan’s article on the causes of constipation.
Overall, in terms of research it seems there is a bit more supporting bananas as a remedy as opposed to a cause. However, we are all different and, as explained above, the pectin and other ingredients may create problems for some. Two major factors to consider are the number of bananas you eat, and how ripe they are. It is also important to be aware that we are all individuals with unique digestion, and what is suitable for one person may not be for the next. If you believe bananas are a trigger I would recommend reducing them to a minimum in your diet, perhaps just eating them 1-2 times a week. If however they are helpful in keeping you moving, enjoy this lovely bendy fruit!
Miller KC. Plasma potassium concentration and content changes after banana ingestion in exercised men. J Athl Train 2012;47:648-54
Mitsou EK, Kougia E, Nomikos T, et al. Effect of banana consumption on faecal microbiota: a randomized, controlled trial. Anaerobe 2011;17:384-7.
Constipation is one of the most commonly reported health problems, affecting at least one in five younger people and one in three older adults, according to the National Institutes of Health.
What helps relieve constipation fast? While a number of over-the-counter medications are available to treat this condition quickly, there are also natural laxatives that can work equally well for some people.
Natural laxatives, in the form of certain foods, beverages and herbs, have been used for wellness purposes to alleviate constipation for over 2,000 years.
People have always known that bowel movements are necessary for good health, but in today’s fast-paced society, a poor diet, stress or frequent traveling can get in the way of you and good digestion.
Today, there are dozens of different laxatives available on the market to help those who frequently get constipated — everything from herbal teas and detox tinctures, to pills and enemas.
Technically, there are several types of laxatives that work in various ways, which include: stimulant agents; saline and osmotic products; bulking agents; and surfactants.
- Stimulant laxatives — This is the type most people use regularly and buy over-the-counter (OTC). They are also thought to be the most over-used. These products cause a laxative effect by stimulating the lining of the intestines and making the muscles of the digestive system contract, while also increasing stool’s hydration. Over time, stimulant laxatives can actually weaken the body’s natural ability to go to the bathroom, which is why they pose the risk for “laxative dependency.”
- Bulk-forming laxatives — “Bulking agents” are types of fiber treatments that are the mild laxatives most doctors recommend first to patients for increasing slow transit time. Fiber works by increasing the water content and bulk of the stool so it can move quickly through the colon.
- Stool softeners (also called emollient laxatives) — These work by drawing moisture from water/fluids into stools to make them easier to pass, especially for people with conditions such as hemorrhoids that are painful when they strain. They come in capsule, tablet, liquid and syrup form and are usually taken with water.
- Saline laxatives (also sometimes called sodium phosphate) — This type increases fluid in the small intestine and is sometimes used to clear out the bowels before a colonoscopy. These are intended to be used as a single dose, taken once a day, and not used for more than three days in a row.
- Enema — This type is inserted into the rectum so it can directly deposit saline fluid. Enemas are also typically intended for one time use.
- Lubricant laxatives — These work by making stools “slippery,” usually with mineral oils that coat the intestinal walls and prevents stool from drying out. These can be helpful for reducing constipation pain associated with conditions like hemorrhoids.
- Osmotic-type (or hyperosmolar) laxatives — These are hydrating agents that draw fluids into the intestines.
How Do Laxatives Work?
When someone has a normal bowel movement, the stool is formed by the absorption of waste, unwanted nutrients, electrolytes and water within the gut. These normally come together to make a soft-but-solid substance that is then able to easily pass through the digestive tract.
Most of the nutrients from the foods you eat are not actually absorbed in the stomach, but in the small intestine. The large intestines, or colon, mostly absorbs water. After traveling through your stomach and intestines, waste moves down to your colon, where it’s ready to make its way out.
The entire digestive process involves many aspects of your body, including enzymes, electrolytes, water, hormones, blood flow and more. You can see why short-term or chronic constipation can occur for many different reasons, including:
- eating a diet that lacks of both insoluble fiber and soluble fiber
- lack of sleep
Each type of laxative works somewhat differently as a remedy for constipation, as described more above. Some of the ways they work include drawing water into the intestines, softening stools, and causing muscles in the digestive tract to contract and push waste out.
Who can benefit from taking laxatives?
There may be some times when laxatives are appropriate, but probably not as often as people assume. For otherwise healthy adults, it’s likely okay to take laxatives every now and then, such as when you’re traveling and jet-lagged or dealing with a short-term stomach illness. If you do feel that you need to take a laxative, try a gentler, natural product such as castor oil.
What’s considered “normal” when it comes to pooping? Most experts agree that it’s important to go to the bathroom at least three or more times per week at a minimum. But the number of bowel movements someone should have each day/week varies from person to person, so there is not one specific number that is considered completely “normal” and healthy.
The bottom line is that if you’re currently not going at least this amount, making changes to your diet and lifestyle first (for example, eating more fiber, exercising and reducing stress) are crucial to solving the problem long-term.
Foods that Improve Digestive Function
It’s important to realize that while OTC or prescription laxatives might help solve constipation symptoms in the short-term, they ultimately don’t fix any underlying digestive issues. In fact, they can make the problem even worse. They may cause unwanted and dangerous side effects, and even become addictive since the body begins to rely on them over time to function properly.
Our bodies have an amazing natural ability to cleanse and detox on their own — we just need to provide the correct nutrients and hydrating fluids.
What foods will make you poop right away? Most foods that promote regular bowel movements don’t work immediately, but rather help to keep you “regular” long-term.
Most adults, and children too, could afford to eat more fiber. While increasing intake of high-fiber foods alone might not solve all cases of constipation, it’s definitely one of the first steps to take.
What’s considered a high-fiber diet? Make sure you aim to get between 25–40 grams of fiber per day.
Adult men/larger individuals need a higher amount than women and smaller individuals. You always want to get your fiber from natural sources (unprocessed, whole foods) whenever possible, as opposed to artificially created fibers found in processed “high-fiber” bars, shakes, etc,
Best Natural Laxatives
Fruits, leafy greens and other veggies, seeds, certain herbs, and probiotic-filled foods can all serve as home remedies when it comes to softening stool and relieving constipation. By focusing on eating real, whole foods you’ll obtain both soluble and insoluble fiber, along with important electrolytes, vitamins and minerals that your digestive system relies on.
So before you reach for the OTC laxatives, add these seven foods to your diet:
1. Aloe Vera
What is the best laxative that works fast? Some would say aloe vera, which is one of the oldest and well-researched natural laxatives there is.
Sometimes called aloe “latex,” this substance comes packed with enzymes, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes that help soften stools and heal the gut. For example, anthraquinones are a type of compound present in aloe that act like a laxative by increasing intestinal water content, stimulating mucus secretion and increasing intestinal peristalsis naturally (contractions that break down food).
Aloe vera latex also has anti-inflammatory components that reduce swelling and and improve function of the digestive organs, making it easier to pass bowel movements. Some of the other benefits of aloe vera are its ability to help normalize acid/alkaline and pH balance, lessen yeast formation and encourage the growth of good digestive bacteria.
2. Chia Seeds
One of the benefits of chia seeds is its ability to absorb water in the GI tract and, therefore, work as a natural laxative.
Chia seeds provide 10 grams of fiber per one-ounce serving. They combine with liquid to form a gelatinous substance that easily moves through your intestines. As a great way to increase the fiber in your diet, chia seeds swell and expand in the digestive tract, absorbing fluids. They’re best for constipation when you also increase your fluid intake, helping them move through the gut easily.
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of fiber, which adds bulk to your stool and helps it pass through your intestines. They provide about 3 grams of fiber per tablespoon. As an added bonus, flaxseeds work to treat both constipation and diarrhea, according to research studies.
They’re practically tasteless, and one of the benefits of flaxseeds is it’s easy to use in recipes you already make, like oats, baked goods and smoothies.
Just remember that whenever you eat a lot of fiber, you want to also make sure to drink plenty of water, too — since a high amount of fiber without enough hydrating liquids can actually result in even more bathroom troubles! Drinking enough water in general along with a high-fiber diet makes it easier to pass waste from the body and less likely you’ll experience uncomfortable hard stools, bloating, gas, and pains.
4. Leafy Green Veggies
What’s one of the best natural laxatives to lose weight? Low-calorie, high-fiber vegetables!
Not only a great source of fiber, leafy greens like spinach and kale also provide plenty of magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in adults, so eating more comes with many benefits, including better digestive health.
Magnesium is an electrolyte in leafy greens that has the natural ability to safely soften stool and help draw in water from your gut.
Without enough magnesium, it’s hard for stool to easily move through your system, especially since magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer, which can help stop cramping in the abdomen. If you notice that increasing magnesium-rich foods results in your stools becoming too loose and watery, you can adjust your intake until its comfortable and back to normal.
5. Probiotic Foods
Probiotics are “good bacteria” in your gut that are able to balance various types of “bad bacteria.” They help create a healthy environment in your gut “microflora” and can help keep you free of digestive problems, including constipation or diarrhea.
Probiotic foods include things like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and probiotic yogurt.
Just make sure that when buying dairy products, you always choose organic products, as they are easier on digestion, such as goat milk products, organic kefir, raw dairy products or dairy that doesn’t contain A1 casein. It’s possible that low-quality pasteurized/homogenized dairy, or too much dairy in general (especially if someone has symptoms of lactose intolerance), can cause inflammation and contribute to digestive dysfunction.
6. High-Fiber Fruit (Berries, Figs, Apples, Prunes, Pears)
These are some of the best natural laxatives for kids. Fruit provides high levels of fiber and water in addition antioxidants, which can help to reduce inflammation throughout the digestive system.
While fresh fruit such as berries, melon and apples are more hydrating and filling, dried fruit like figs, prunes or dates are also a good source of dietary fiber when in a pinch, especially when you consume several at once.
Fruits that contain pectin fiber (apples or pears) are especially good choices, since pectin stimulates your bowels. Apple cider vinegar is also an excellent option for naturally treating constipation. For most people, fruit helps relieve constipation while also making you feel comfortably full, but again it comes down to individual reactions to various kinds.
Wondering if bananas are a natural laxative, or if they are in fact”binding”? Because bananas contain fiber, resistant starch and potassium, they can help to keep you regular.
However, some people report that they contribute to digestive issues and make constipation worse, so it really comes down to the individual. Green, underripe bananas are the best source of resistant starch, so these are most likely to help you go, rather than back you up.
7. Coconut Water
Coconut water is good for you for many reasons — not only does it taste great as an alternative to plain old water or sugary drinks, but it also helps with maintaining healthy electrolyte levels, preventing dehydration and clearing out your urinary tract.
For centuries, coconut water has been used for a natural hydration boost due to its high electrolyte content, especially potassium (which it provides 12 percent of your daily value of in every one-cup serving). Because it tastes great, it’s one of the best natural laxatives for kids.
In fact, coconut water can be so healing for constipation that some people find drinking too much loosens stools to an uncomfortable level, so start slow.
What foods should you avoid when constipated?
- Processed foods, which contain little fiber or nutrients. This includes processed meats like cold cuts or hot dogs and high sodium frozen foods.
- Fried foods, which can slow down stool’s transit time through the intestines and essentially “clog up” digestion.
- Alcohol, which increases urine production and fluid loss.
- Pasteurized dairy products, which may contribute to bloating and can also lead to infant constipation.
- Refined flour, which does not contain any fiber and, therefore, will not help with constipation.
- Caffeine (depends on the person), which may help improve bowel movements by stimulating muscle contractions, but can also lead to dependence, increase anxiety symptoms and lead to water loss.
Another thing to note about foods that function as natural laxatives: Each person is a bit different, and not everyone reacts to foods in the same way.
For example, some fruits/veggies contain FODMAPs, types of carbohydrates that are tough for some people to break down, which can can actually worsen bloating/constipation problems and cause IBS-like symptoms. So, always test your own reaction to foods and come up with a constipation diet plan that works for you.
To deal with not being “regular,” many people turn to laxatives in the form of medications or enemas to get the job done fast. In fact, laxatives are one of the most commonly bought over-the-counter medications there is.
According to the FDA, “some over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives some may turn to for relief are potentially dangerous if dosing instructions or warnings on the Drug Facts label are not properly followed or when there are certain coexisting health conditions.”
There have been dozens of cases of reported serious side effects attributed to laxative use, as well as 13 fatalities, as stated by the FDA.
Abusing laxatives is also dangerous. Who is at risk for overuse of laxatives? According to the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, people who abuse laxatives regularly are generally categorized as falling into one of four groups.
- By far the biggest group of laxative users is “individuals suffering from an eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa,” with estimates showing that 10 percent to 60 percent of those with disordered eating use laxatives to help control their weight and feelings. People falsely believe that they can avoid some of the “absorption of calories” from the foods they eat, but this isn’t even true for the most part and actually can lead to many dangerous side effects.
- Middle-aged or older adults tend to use laxatives to alleviate constipation as digestive functions slow down.
- Athletes or bodybuilders who are trying to maintain a certain weight and look may use these substances to to decrease bloating.
- People who deal with digestive system problems such as IBS also tend to use laxatives.
After taking laxatives, it’s not uncommon to deal with some serious gastrointestinal complaints, such as bloating and stomach discomfort.
Too much synthetic fiber or overuse of mineral oils from laxatives can also reduce your body’s absorption of some drugs and medications.
Another issue is that lubricant laxatives can absorb fat-soluble vitamins from the intestines and decrease certain nutrient levels.
Risks and Side Effects
Side effects and health problems associated with laxative overuse and abuse include:
- stomach bloating
- dehydration (fluid loss)
- electrolyte imbalances
- acid/alkaline base changes
- the inability to produce enough digestive enzymes
- edema (water retention)
- dizziness and light-headedness
- damage to the colon and digestive organs
- alternating diarrhea and constipation
- complications with the cardiovascular systems
- weight loss or gain
- other life-threatening side effects, including death when overused
OTC lubricant or bulking agents often come with some not-so-pleasant side effects. Fiber works by increasing the water content and bulk of the stool so it can move quickly through the colon. Naturally occurring fiber from food is great for this purpose, but people who increase their fiber abruptly can suffer abdominal cramping, bloating or gas.
The renin-aldosterone part of the digestive system becomes activated when taking laxatives, which results in the loss of fluid. The body rebounds by holding on to all of the available water it can get, which leads to edema (water retention or bloating) and short-term weight gain, even a slowdown in your metabolism once laxative intake is stopped.
For some people, this triggers further use of laxatives in order to get the body to shed water and solve any symptoms of rebound constipation.
- Over-the-counter laxatives are some of the most widely used medications. These may be effective constipation remedies in the short-term, but they pose risk for side effects like dependence, dehydration, bloating, diarrhea, electrolyte imbalance and more.
- Certain foods, drinks and herbs can make it easier to pass bowel movements and prevent constipation, without posing much risk for side effects. That is why a healthy diet can be the best natural laxative available to you.
- Want to know how to get rid of constipation fast at home? Try natural laxatives that work fast for constipation relief, which include: aloe vera, leafy greens, chia and flax seeds, high fiber fruits, probiotic foods, and coconut water.
- Also make sure to drink plenty of water/fluids when consuming natural laxatives, since these work with high fiber foods to help soften stool.
It’s a taboo subject but something that many people suffer from. Constipation, sometimes referred to as irregularity, is a problem with bowel movements. Symptoms may include difficulty passing stools and a feeling that not all of your stool has passed. Stools can be hard, dry, or lumpy and less frequent. If you have less than three bowel movements a week, a healthcare provider might diagnosis you with constipation.
The good news: Making smart food choices and adopting good habits can make a difference. Foods high in fiber may help keep your bowels working regularly.
Choose a Variety of Foods with Dietary Fiber
Dietary fiber may help promote health in a variety of ways. Fiber may help manage both cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Fiber may also speed up the transit of stool through the digestive system, which can help keep you regular.
The daily recommendation for dietary fiber is 14 grams for every 1,000 calories, which is about 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men per day.
Sources of dietary fiber include:
- Fruits, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, pears, apples with skin on, prunes (dried or stewed) and raisins.
- Unsalted nuts and seeds, such as almonds, peanuts, pecans and walnuts, as well as pumpkin, sunflower, flax and chia seeds.
- Vegetables, such as green peas, broccoli, sweet potato, winter squash and pumpkin.
- Whole grain foods such as brown rice, whole grain bread and rolls, whole grain pastas, wheat bran and bran cereals.
In contrast, a low fiber eating pattern may contribute to constipation. Foods low in dietary fiber include refined grains, such as white bread and rolls, white rice, spaghetti and other pastas, cereals and baked goods made from white flour.
Become a Label Reader
The amount of fiber in foods is included on the food label under the “Carbohydrates” heading. Your goal is to eat 100% of the recommended daily value of fiber. When selecting products:
- Aim for foods with over 5 percent daily value dietary fiber per serving.
- High fiber foods contain 20 percent or more dietary fiber per serving.
Learn more about how to read food labels.
Increase Your Fiber Intake Slowly
Adding fiber too quickly may cause abdominal discomfort. If you have not been eating foods high in fiber, slowly increase your fiber intake.
Increase your fiber intake slowly across five days. Be careful not to increase it by more than 5 grams each day. Follow this practice until reaching your desired intake.
Pair High Fiber Foods with Fluids
Drink plenty of water or other unsweetened beverages throughout the day. Fluids help keep your stool soft, which makes them easier to pass. Including prune juice in your daily eating plan may also help keep you regular. Starting the day with a warm beverage can be helpful, too.
If you don’t consume enough fluids, high fiber foods may increase your risk of constipation. How much fluid you need depends on many factors including your age, gender, activity level and the climate where you live.
Being active may also help to keep your bowel movements regular. Individuals who do not participate in regular physical activity may be more likely to become constipated. Short, 10 to 15 minute walks after each meal can help keep your bowels working normally.
Seek Help, If Constipation Persists
Constipation might lead to uncomfortable bloating and reduce your appetite. If your constipation is not going away, contact your healthcare provider. Ask if an over the counter medicine such as a stool softener or laxative may be helpful for you.
If your healthcare provider feels your constipation is related to your eating style, ask for a referral to a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). An RDN can help you identify ways to increase your fiber intake and develop a meal plan that meets your individual needs.
To find an RDN, check out the Academy’s online Find an Expert tool.
What is constipation?
Constipation happens when fecal material (stool) moves through the large bowel (colon) too slowly. The fluid portion of the stool is absorbed back into the body, so the stool becomes hard and dry. This makes it difficult to pass the stool.
What causes constipation?
Poor nutrition, inadequate sleep, limited exercise, anxiety, emotional stress and age may cause constipation. Certain disease also can cause constipation, and are usually associated with a sudden change in bowel habits, pain, weight loss, fatigue or bloody stools. Contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms. Some medications cause constipation – talk to your doctor if you think your medications are causing constipation.
Can eating more fiber help with constipation?
Yes. Fiber is the part of plant food that is not digested. There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber gives stool bulk. Foods that are good sources of soluble fiber include apples, bananas, barley, oats, and beans. Insoluble fiber helps speed up the transit of food in the digestive tract and helps prevent constipation. Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, most vegetables, wheat bran, and legumes. Foods that have fiber contain both soluble and insoluble fibers. A good goal for dietary fiber is a total of about 20 to 30 grams each day.
Guidelines to Treat Constipation
- Eat three meals each day. Do not skip meals.
- Gradually increase the amount of high-fiber foods in your diet.
- Choose more whole grain breads, cereals and rice.
- Select more raw fruits and vegetables — eat the peel, if appropriate.
- Read food labels and look for the “dietary fiber” content of foods. Good sources have 2 grams of fiber or more.
- Drink six to eight glasses of water each day.
- Limit highly refined and processed foods.
Exercise and Sleep
- Exercise regularly. Try to do weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, three or more times each week.
- Go to sleep at a regular time each night. Make sure you get enough sleep.
Stress and Anxiety
- Try to limit stress in your life.
- Go for a short walk when you feel anxiety or stress increasing.
Eggs are versatile, cheap, and healthy food. They contain excellent amounts of protein, vitamins, and other essential nutrients. They are readily available and easy to cook.
However, some people complain that eating eggs causes bloating and constipation.
Do eggs really cause constipation and bloating?
I will explain the answer in detail.
Eggs and constipation
One of my clients told me that she has been giving hard-boiled eggs to her toddler, usually once or twice a day. She is concerned that the child is always constipated. She thinks it is due to the boiled egg and wants to stop giving it.
I explained that eggs are not constipating. However, eating too many eggs can indirectly cause constipation.
We need certain amounts of dietary fiber to get a smooth bowel movement. If your diet doesn’t contain enough fiber, you will get hard stools that are difficult to pass.
You may aware that eggs don’t have fiber. So, you need to include fiber-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Boiled eggs are filling. The main reason for that is egg whites contain high-quality protein. If you eat one, you will feel full in the stomach for many hours. So, think about what will happen if you give eggs twice a day to your toddler. The child may not feel hungry. Giving fiber-rich food is difficult when your child is not hungry.
Ultimately, there is not enough fiber in the diet, which is the cause of constipation.
So, do I need to avoid eggs?
No, you don’t need to avoid them. They are part of a balanced diet. You can eat an egg every day. More than that is not good. Include a variety of foods in your diet, such as grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
Is eating raw eggs good?
Eating raw eggs is not recommended. It can cause Salmonella food poisoning. You should always thoroughly cook poultry products including eggs before eating.
Constipation is quite common in toddlers. There are many reasons for that. Improper toilet training, emotional deprivation, and anal fissure are some of them. So, you can’t always blame the eggs for constipation.
Constipation in children can be due to some organic causes, such as underactive thyroid, anal fissure, and Hirschsprung’s disease. So, consulting a doctor may be appropriate if your child has chronic constipation that is not responding to simple remedies.
Eggs are a very good source of high-quality protein and vitamins. They are rich in selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron, and copper. Egg yolks contain fat and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Eating and egg a day with vegetables and fruits helps keep you healthy. Don’t avoid eating eggs due to the fear of constipation.
Related: Sweet potatoes to relieve constipation in babies.