The foods for constipation discussed on this page are not hard to find; pretty much everyone can get hold of them. Discover why you should include them in your diet to relieve constipation.
Other excellent foods to relieve constipation are dark leafy greens, ginger, honey, rhubarb, squash and coffee and they're discussed in Part 2.
Apples are one of the best foods for constipation. How do apples work to keep you regular?
One of the main reasons for this is that apples are an excellent source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble.
A 5-oz. (140 g.) apple with the skin has about 3 g. of fiber (we should aim for 25 g. per day).
Insoluble fiber, which used to be called "roughage", is found mostly in the skin, and has long been recommended to relieve constipation. And we know that a smoothly operating digestive tract can help prevent diverticulitis, a condition in which small pouches form in the large intestine, and also cancer of the colon.
Plus, insoluble fiber is filling, which is why apples are such an excellent weight-control food for people who want to lose weight without feeling hungry.
Apples also contain soluble fiber, and the main type of soluble fiber present in apples is pectin. An average-size apple contains 0.7 g. of pectin, more than the amount in strawberries and bananas.
Rather than passing through the digestive tract more or less unchanged, soluble fiber absorbs a lot of water (20 times its weight) and forms a gel-like material in the intestine that helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver and, with it, the risk of heart disease and stroke.
All high-fiber foods are excellent foods for constipation.
There's no doubt that beans are superfoods because of their high content of proteins, minerals and disease-fighting antioxidants. But they're also excellent foods for constipation due to their high content of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Black beans, for example, contain 6 g. of fiber for 1/2 cup serving. Chickpeas, kidney beans and lima beans have about 7 g. and black-eyed peas top out at 8 g.
Most of the fiber is insoluble, about 94% and 6% is soluble and both have different effects on the body.
There's no doubt that beans increase the size of the stools and also appear to stimulate colonic bacteria to produce chemicals, called short chain fatty acids, that help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and possibly inhibit colon cancer.
These fatty acids come from fermentation of food, notably soluble fiber, in the colon and are being intensively scrutinized for their cancer-blocking potential.
If you're not used to eating beans, they can give you a lot of gassiness. To relieve the problem, start with smaller amounts and increase gradually, to give your intestine a chance to get used to the fiber.
Also, try adding fresh or ground ginger to your recipes, which not only helps relieve gassiness, but it's another natural laxative.
Read more on the Health Benefits of Beans.
Besides being delicious and full of antioxidants, berries are also one of the best foods for constipation. Berries contain large amounts of insoluble fiber, which is incredibly absorbent.
It draws lots of water in the intestines, which makes stool heavier and heavy stools travel through the intestine faster, which means you're less likely to become constipated.
The fiber in berries is helpful in yet another way. It helps prevent bile acid (a chemical that the body uses for digestion) from being transformed into a more dangerous, potentially cancer-causing form.
Elderberries top the list, packing a powerful 5 g. of fiber in a 1/2 cup serving. Blackberries are next with more than 4 g. per serving and raspberries come in third with 3 g. per serving. Blueberries and strawberries are good, too.
When it comes to berry juice, mulberry and boysenberry juices are gentle laxatives.
Also known as linseed, flaxseed is very high in fiber and rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are helpful for constipation.
Each tablespoon of flaxseed has 1g. of fiber. It has a sweet, nutty taste and can be added to almost anything; it's great in salads, cereals, casseroles and breads.
Whole flaxseed provides little benefit, though, because your digestive tract is unable to crack open the hard shells that surround the seeds (which is where all the benefits are). Go for ground or crushed flaxseed for easier digestion, pleasing flavour and crunch.
Flaxseed oil has not the same effect on constipation as the cracked seeds, because it doesn't contain the fiber you need.
If you include flaxseed in your foods for constipation, make sure to drink plenty of water, otherwise it might have the opposite effect.
All dried fruits - prunes, raisins, figs, apricots, dates - do wonders for relieving constipation. Like other foods for constipation, they contain a lot of fiber, but they also contain other compounds that are very effective.
For example, raisins contain a compound called tartaric acid, which acts as a natural laxative.
Prunes also contain dihydroxyphenyl isatin, which stimulates the contractions in your intestines necessary for regular bowel movements.
All dried fruits contain very good amounts of magnesium, which in itself stimulates bowel movements.
Read more about Prune Juice for Constipation and Other Health Benefits.
So let's do the maths. If every day you have...
... you already have eaten 16.g of fiber and that is a very good start. If you also add the foods mentioned in the next article, you can quickly see how easy it is to eat the recommended amount of fiber.
The 6 foods for constipation discussed in Part 2 are dark leafy greens, ginger, honey, rhubarb, squash and coffee.
How about prune juice for constipation? Read the following article to find out how you can benefit from prunes and prune juice.
The 6 Most Common Symptoms of Constipation - Also explaining what bowel transit time is and how to test it
How to Select the Best Foods That Relieve Constipation - Discussing the importance of fiber and water in the diet
The Best High Fiber Diet Plan That Can Help You Relieve Constipation - Explaining how fiber works to keep you regular
5 Best Foods for Constipation That Work (Part 1) - Discussing apples, beans, berries, flaxseed and dried fruits
The 6 Best Foods for Constipation That You Need to Know About (Part 2) - Discussing dark leafy greens, ginger, honey, rhubarb, squash and coffee
Benefits of Fiber and High Fiber Foods in Your Diet - Increasing fiber in your diet can help preventing and treating many conditions
Best Fiber Supplement - Why is Lepicol the best fiber supplement?
1) Carper, J., (1988) The Food Pharmacy: Dramatic New Evidence That Food is Your Best Medicine, London: Simon & Schuster Pty Ltd.
2) Duke, J.A., Ph.D.,(2008) The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods: Proven Natural Remedies to Treat and Prevent More Than 80 Common Health Concerns, New York; Rodale.3) Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., (2005) The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods London: Time Warner Inc.
5 Best Foods for Constipation That Work
(Part 1) - Discussing Apples, Beans, Berries, Flaxseed and Dried Fruits
The 6 Best Foods for Constipation That You Need to Know About
(Part 2) - Discussing Dark Leafy Greens, Ginger, Honey, Rhubarb, Squash and Coffee