5 foods... to relieve constipation
Updated: Feb 5, 2018
Lots of things can cause constipation – abnormal bowel movements such as going less often can be caused by medications, painkillers, even some supplements like iron supplements, lack of water and poor diet. For some, symptoms may be temporary but for others ongoing constipation can cause a lot of discomfort such as severe bloating and cramping .
Constipation can cause stools to be lumpy, hard and difficult to pass. If constipation is left to become chronic, complications such as haemorrhoids can develop. In addition, people who suffer from constipation often experience low energy.
So to keep things moving, make sure you’re eating enough of the following foods every day:
Prunes (or dried plums) are packed full of fibre but also contain fermentable sugars that act as gentle laxatives. Just one prune contains about 1 gram of fibre so including a handful of these at breakfast would be a fantastic idea. Water! The most important factor in relieving constipation – water is critical to help stool move easily through the colon. The colon's main job is to reabsorb water. If you're dehydrated, your stool will be harder and more difficult to pass. Aim to increase your daily intake to about 10-12 glasses per day, ideally 2 litres.
Flaxseeds Whole flaxseeds are recognised as one of the best ways to relieve constipation. I would recommend grinding the seeds in either a small grinder or a blender; this is vital as the tough outer shell needs to broken down. Once you’ve ground the flaxseeds, they’ll keep well in a container for about 5 days. When we consume ground flaxseeds, it forms mucilage – a thick gluey substance that is soothing and forms a protective coating along the entire digestive tract. It provides both bulk and softness to the stool. Sprinkle a large tablespoon of ground flaxseed onto muesli, porridge or granola (or into smoothies).
High Fibre foods – fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and oats. Fibre is of course essential as it adds bulk and softness to stools, making them pass through the colon more easily. We should all be aiming to eating between 20-30grams per day. Green beans - Traditional beans such as black beans, chickpeas, butter beans or cannellini beans can be too tough on the stomach if you’re not used to eating them. So always remember to increase these gradually into your daily diet to avoid bloating/wind. But green beans are different - much lower in protein and carbs but still contain 4 grams of fibre per 1-cup serving, making them a good constipation fighter. Better yet, they contain fewer fermentable sugars, so gassy side effects are unlikely with these fellas.