This can be a subject many of us avoid, but whenever we change our eating habits, it affects our elimination habits. Women seem particularly susceptible – just think what happens when you go on holiday, or suffer from stress or change your diet for any reason. The same can happen when we switch healthy eating plan in the short term. In the long-run our bodies get used to the foods we are eating and tend to settle back into a normal routine. However, there is a lot we can do to ensure our bodies are acting as efficiently as possible.
Eating foods high in dietary fibre, particularly insoluble fibre, is an effective way to manage constipation.
Dietary fibre attracts water, creating soft, bulky stools that stimulate bowel contractions and ease elimination.
Dietary fibre is classified as insoluble or soluble and both types have notable effects in the body. Insoluble fibre is broken down slowly, if at all, by intestinal bacteria and promotes bowel movements. Soluble fibre is broken down (fermented) by intestinal bacteria and has little effect on regularity.
Two soluble fibre exceptions are oats and psyllium seed husks. Both promote regularity and are useful in relieving constipation.
The recommended dietary fibre intake for adults falls in the range of 20-35g per day, though the average person consumes far less, only 12-15g each day.
Fresh fruits and vegetables -- particularly peas, beans, broccoli and figs -- are excellent choices for elevating dietary fibre and relieving constipation. An added bonus is that these foods are packed with healthy nutrients.
Prunes are beneficial for constipation because they serve as gentle laxatives.
Drinking plenty of water, 6-8 glasses per day, is essential when consuming a high fibre diet. Eating the same amount of fibre each day helps the digestive system adjust to a high fibre diet. Gradually increasing the amount of fibre foods into the diet reduces bloating and flatulence;
lightly steaming vegetables breaks down some of the gas-producing components. In addition to dietary fibre, vitamin C and magnesium may help relieve constipation.
A number of additional ways to boost fibre in the diet include:
Use brown rice instead of white rice
Consume whole grain breads
Cook with whole grain flour
Eat high-fibre cereal with fresh fruit for breakfast
Select whole fruits rather than juice
Eat the skin of cleansed fruits and vegetables
Have a salad with dinner
Add beans to salads
Foods that make constipation worse are
What to look out for:
Fibre, insoluble: Leading Food Sources of fibre, insoluble: figs, brown rice, prunes, fresh pea, , beans and wheat.
Magnesium: Magnesium has gentle laxative properties that help to relieve constipation.
Leading Food Sources of magnesium:
Vitamin C: Vitamin C acts as a gentle laxative, making it useful in the treatment of constipation. Leading Food Sources of vitamin C: