Eat These 5 Foods If You’re Constipated
We all get a little stopped up sometimes. The causes of constipation are complex due to the multifaceted relationship between brain and gut health—everything from stress to travel to diet can slow down your digestive process. But regardless of why you’re constipated, certain foods tend to help move things along.
Here are 5 foods to stock up on if you’re constipated:
Beans are jam-packed with fiber, the indigestible part of plant foods that absorbs water as it moves through your digestive system and eases bowel movements. Increasing your fiber intake is one of the most important things to do when suffering from constipation. Beans are a great way to up your fiber, since one cup usually provides more than 10 grams of fiber. Find your favorite—black beans, pinto beans, lentils, kidney beans and garbanzo beans are all great sources of fiber—and serve them up in salads, soups or as purées.
Some people find grains irritating to their digestive tract, so you’ll need to experiment and see what works for you; but there’s no denying that whole grains check the fiber box. The key when incorporating grains is to avoid anything made with enriched or processed flour. Look for breads and cereals made from oats, barley, bran or rye whose ingredient labels explicitly state whole grains. If you’re sensitive to gluten, try products made with brown rice, quinoa or flax.
Nuts are another high-fiber option for stimulating your digestion. Almonds, pecans and walnuts in particular are helpful because they contain more fiber than other nuts. Like grains, nuts do not work for everyone. If you reach for nuts to help ease constipation, go for unsalted and raw versions. You can also try soaking nuts in water before eating them. This hydrates the nuts and reduces their phytic acid content, which for some people can be irritating on the stomach.
Prunes, as well as other dried fruits such as apricots, dates and figs, can provide solid constipation relief. Prunes are the dried fruit you hear about most in relation to constipation because, in addition to being high in fiber, they contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruits and has a laxative effect. If you’re not a fan of dried fruit, reach for an apple, pear or peach; these high-fiber fruits also contain sorbitol. Blackberries and raspberries contain sorbitol as well, and have the added benefit of relatively high water content. This can be helpful for constipation, as it is often caused by dehydration.
Veggies such as kale, spinach, chard and broccoli are all fiber-rich, making them powerful antidotes to constipation. Green veggies also are high in magnesium, which relaxes your muscles, including your digestive tract, making elimination easier. Although green vegetables can help considerably, magnesium deficiency is extremely common, and it can be difficult to get adequate amounts from food. Especially if you’re dealing with constipation, a magnesium supplement such as Natural Vitality’s Calm can be helpful, in addition to incorporating more magnesium-rich foods.