The digestive system breaks down the foods eaten so the body can absorb the nutrients. During digestion, the unnecessary parts of these foods are turned into waste/stool, which is evacuated during a bowel movement. When the digestive system stops functioning properly due to factors such as diet change, eating unhealthy foods, lack of physical activity/exercise, medications, and certain health conditions, can cause constipation. Constipation occurs when the body cannot have a regular bowel movement. The distention, gas, bloating and not being able to have a bowel movement cause irritability and stress, which can worsen constipation. Incorporating recommended nutrition can help restore regular bowel movements and gut function.
Table of Contents
Recommended Nutrition For Constipation
Symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, and difficult bowel movements are common. Diet and proper hydration have a significant role in digestive health, especially in relieving and preventing constipation. High-fiber foods, prebiotics, and adequate hydration from foods and beverages are essential for healthy bowel movements.
- Fiber is found in whole grains, starches, fruits, and vegetables.
- Soluble and insoluble fiber are important for digestive health.
- Focusing on incorporating high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Foods rich in prebiotics like fermented foods are recommended when constipated.
The recommended nutrition for constipation, according to a dietitian includes.
- Avocados can be paired with just about anything and are full of nutrients and fiber.
- One avocado contains around 13.5 grams of fiber.
- One avocado will provide almost half daily fiber needs.
- Other high-fiber fruits: pomegranates, guava, raspberries, blackberries, and passionfruit.
- Figs can be eaten fresh and dried.
- Figs are considered a laxative and have been shown to treat and reduce constipation.
- They contain antioxidants, polyphenols, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and vitamins.
- Other fruits similar to a fig: dried apricots, prunes, and plums.
- Plums, prunes dried plums are packed with fiber and prebiotics that have a natural laxative effect.
- Sorbitol – a sugar found in plums and prunes, acts as an osmotic laxative that retains water.
- The added H2O makes the stools softer and easier to pass.
- Natural fruit juices, like pear, apple, or prune are often prescribed for constipation.
- Other fruits that aid in bowel movements: peaches, pears, and apples.
- Fermented foods like kefir are rich in beneficial bacteria that work to maintain digestive system health.
- It can be consumed on its own or used in smoothies, cooking, and baking recipes.
- Other fermented foods: kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and tempeh.
- Oat bran is oatmeal that has not had the bran removed.
- The bran contains beneficial nutrients including fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Oat bran contains soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as beta-glucan/non-starchy polysaccharides.
- All improve the composition of gut bacteria and promote healthy bowel movements.
- Other beneficial grains: oatmeal, wheat bran, rye, and barley.
Incorporating Gut-Beneficial Foods
How to incorporate recommended nutrition gut-beneficial foods into a regular menu:
- Use kefir or yogurt as a base then balance it out with fiber-rich fruits like mango, blueberries, and kiwi.
- Diversify snacks with a plate of fiber and prebiotics.
- Nuts, cheese, crackers, fruit, and a yogurt or avocado dip.
- Try oat bran to increase fiber.
- Sprinkle a serving of flaxseeds, chia seeds, or hemp seeds for added fiber and healthy fats.
- Yogurt parfaits can maximize nutrients, flavor, and textures in a bowl.
- Layer up on a favorite yogurt with granola, nuts, fruit, and seeds.
- Fiber found in whole grains and seeds like barley, farro, and quinoa, helps promote healthy digestion.
- Make a bowl with a grain base, then top with a protein, fresh or grilled veggies, avocado, and dressing.
Talk with a registered nutritionist or other healthcare provider to discuss recommended nutrition plan options.
Balancing Body and Metabolism
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Gray, James R. “What is chronic constipation? Definition and diagnosis.” Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology = Journal Canadien de Gastroenterology vol. 25 Suppl B, Suppl B (2011): 7B-10B.
Jani, Bhairvi, and Elizabeth Marsicano. “Constipation: Evaluation and Management.” Missouri medicine vol. 115,3 (2018): 236-240.
Naseer, Maliha, et al. “Therapeutic Effects of Prebiotics on Constipation: A Schematic Review.” Current clinical pharmacology vol. 15,3 (2020): 207-215. doi:10.2174/1574884715666200212125035
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms and Causes of Constipation.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Your Digestive System and How It Works.
Sinclair, Marybetts. “The use of abdominal massage to treat chronic constipation.” Journal of bodywork and movement therapies vol. 15,4 (2011): 436-45. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2010.07.007
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