Foods To Help Relieve Constipation

A person is said to be experiencing constipation if they have less than three bowel movements a week or have a noticeable difficulty when using the toilet. Though some may find it awkward to deal with, the occasional constipation is very common. 

Sometimes, all it takes to solve the problem is a few changes to your diet. And the key word is "fiber," which is what you might be missing. Here are five foods that could help bring some relief.

1. Oatmeal

"There are two types of fiber — insoluble and soluble — and they can both help with constipation," explained Dr. Nitin Kumar, a weight-management physician and gastroenterologist. Oats contain both, but are an excellent source of the soluble kind in particular.

Soluble fiber can provide relief by helping your food pass more easily through the intestines as it softens it. Insoluble fiber is said to play a role in promoting bowel regularity by bulking up the stool.

2. Popcorn

You may be happy to hear that the low-calorie, fiber-rich snack is also something you can indulge in. A single cup of air-popped popcorn contains 31 calories, 1 gram of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates and 1.2 grams of fiber. 

But make sure to exercise caution with butter toppings and sugary varieties. Since they tend to contain trans fats and artificial sweeteners, even a small portion can significantly increase your calorie intake. 

3. Prunes

Dried plums or prunes are, perhaps, the most popularly recommended food for those seeking relief. They are not only rich in fiber but also contain fermentable sugars, both of which could help promote good gastrointestinal function.

In a 2014 study, participants who have been experiencing constipation were instructed to eat around 10 prunes (100 grams) per day. After three weeks, their stool frequency showed a good deal of improvement.

4. Beans

Beans can promote a healthy digestive system, though they may initially provoke symptoms like gas and bloating. "Increase your intake of fiber-rich foods gradually. You may feel worse before you get better," said Dr. Elizabeth Blaney, a gastroenterologist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

Prefer a milder alternative? Blaney recommends trying green beans instead. While they don't contain as many nutrients and fermentable sugars, they can still add some fiber to your diet without the side effects mentioned above.

5. Berries

Rich in antioxidants, the likes of raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries can help induce some much-needed relief. "You are eating tiny seeds in each bite, so it increases your fiber," said Sharon Palmer, a registered dietitian with an expertise in plant-based nutrition.

They can make a sweet addition to your breakfast, be it pancakes or cereal. Since contractions of our colon work at their highest level during the morning hours, make sure to include a good amount of fiber in your first meal of the day.