How May Foods Help in Constipation and When?
You may get rid of constipation by adding more dietary fiber and water into your diet. Dietary fiber makes your stool bulky, thus stimulating the bowel, and soft, and therefore easy to expel. This may work, when the main cause of constipation is a low-fiber diet, but might not be enough in severe constipation caused by a disease or medications.
Foods That Relieve Constipation
1. Foods Rich in SOLUBLE Fiber
- Oatmeal or oat bran
- Brown rice
- Orange, grapefruit
- Green plantain
Soluble fiber can absorb a lot of water and therefore help in both mild constipation and mild diarrhea, especially in constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C), and alternate IBS (IBS-A). NOTE: soluble fiber may produce a lot of gas.
2. Foods Rich in INSOLUBLE Fiber
- Bitter gourd (bitter melon)
- Morning cereals, like wheat bran or raisin bran
- Wholegrain bread or pasta
- Cooked barley
- Broad or white beans
- Chick or green peas
- Other vegetable foods, like salads from green leafy vegetables, may be good for constipation, even if not high in dietary fiber.
A cup of warm or hot water or tea (without teine or caffeine) with breakfast can be a good trigger of a bowel movement. Have a glass of water at hand, and drink throughout a day as much as you feel thirsty. If you urinate at least twice a day and excrete at least 200 mL of urine in the morning (when your last drink was in the evening) you probably have enough water in your body. If you have any heart or other disease, where you need to limit fluid intake, ask your doctor about appropriate diet. Read about dehydration.
4. Random Foods
You might found that certain foods help you go, even if they are constipating for others. Examples of such foods are apple cider vinegar, kefir, red wine, bananas.
Home Remedies (Foods) That Act as Natural Laxatives
Foods or drinks that act as natural laxatives, meaning they can trigger a bowel movement, are not recommended, not even for one-time constipation relief, and especially not on a long term, since your bowel can become dependent on them, so they can even aggravate constipation. Foods that can act as laxatives:
- Prunes, figs
- Psyllium husk, shredded wheat, flaxseed (oil)
- Cascara sagrada
- Aloe vera juice
- Dandelion root
- Mineral water high in magnesium
- Spicy food
A Dietary Guide for Constipation
- Add high-fiber foods to most your meals, but slowly, to prevent bloating. For children after 10 years of age and adults, recommended fiber intake is at least 20 grams of fiber per day. It may take some days or weeks for this diet to take effect. Experiment with soluble and insoluble fiber and observe their effect. You should take dry high-fiber foods, like cereals, with a sufficient amount of fluid, otherwise they may literally stuck in your bowel.
- White rice, white bread or pasta, potatoes and oil can aggravate constipation. Fruits high in sorbitol or fructose (apples, pears, prunes, figs) may bloat you or cause diarrhea; beans, cauliflower and cabbage can do the same. If you often get bloated, check a low-FODMAP diet. To stop constipation you will probably need to limit foods that commonly cause constipation: meat, cheese, egg yolks, sweets, alcohol, soda, caffeinated drinks.
- Take enough time and sit down to have a meal in peace. Stress and hurry aggravate constipation. Have small meals and chew foods well. Insufficient chewing may result in constipation, especially in children (1). Do not skip meals, even when you feel pain from constipation, since food is the main trigger of bowel movements.
- Have a bowel movement at the same time in a day (not necessary every day); a good time may be after breakfast. If the stool does not come out by itself, push a little, but do not strain constantly, so a natural defecating reflex can do its job.
To maintain regular bowel movements, run an active life style: walk, fight against lazyness and depression, share your feelings with someone. If nothing helps, think about other causes of constipation, like stress, certain diseses and medications.
- What Causes Constipation?
- Low-FODMAP Diet in IBS
- Severe Constipation
- Chronic Constipation
- Inadequate chewing and constipation (Carolina Pediatric Dysphagia)
Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on April 12, 2011