It is very common, in some circumstances, to suffer intestinal disorders that make it difficult to achieve a proper evacuation. Sometimes it can be due to a mismatch in diet, stress, a low-fiber diet, or certain circumstances such as a baby starting complementary feeding, pregnancy (half of pregnant women suffer constipation at some point) and also during postpartum.
Constipation occurs when a person does not evacuate stool as often as he or she normally should, when three or fewer bowel movements occur per week, with stools being hard and dry. The feeling of incomplete evacuation may also be experienced.
For optimal intestinal functioning, fiber intake should be 30 grams daily, which can be achieved by eating two to three pieces of fruit, a couple of servings of vegetables and whole grains.
Below is a list of foods to help you avoid constipation and regularize bowel activity. They are mainly foods rich in fiber and in prebiotics, which contribute to bowel movement.
In addition to being a heart-healthy fat, olive oil acts as a natural laxative that helps soften bowel movement and prevent constipation. A homemade trick to constipation is the fasting intake of a teaspoon of olive oil with a drop of lemon. Always choose olive oil to cook or season your salads with any of its varieties.
Avocado is a complete food, containing healthy fat and rich in Omega-3 fatty acid. It contains folic acid, vitamins and minerals, and high fiber content (7 grams per 100) which makes it a very suitable fruit for mobility inside the intestine.
You can use it as a complement to a salad, a sandwich or find yourself some amazing guacamole recipes.
Garlic is one of the prebiotic foods, a type of non-digestible fiber that serves as food for the bacterial flora that protects the gut. You can include it in many recipes to give a special touch to your dishes.
Artichoke is also a food that contains prebiotics, which promote the motility of the intestine as well as the transit of the intestine. It has a high fiber content (9.4 g per 100 g) and similar amount of potassium as banana (about 350 mg per 100 grams). It also offers us magnesium, phosphorus, carotenes and B-complex vitamins with very few calories and high amount of fiber.
Almonds, and in general nuts, containing a high proportion of insoluble fiber, are perfect for combating constipation. It helps regulate intestinal transit and contributes to increased faecal mass.
They also provide high doses of calcium and we can incorporate them into our meals in a wide variety of dishes: salads, cookies and even as a base for a salted cake.
Oatmeal is a super cereal with multiple health benefits for the whole family. It has a high supply of plant proteins and healthy fats, as well as vitamins and minerals such as magnesium or phosphorus. Its high fiber content improves intestinal transit and thus can help fight against constipation.
Broccoli, as well as cauliflower belonging to the same family, and are two of the winter vegetables that provide the most vitamins, minerals and properties. Both are an excellent source of fiber, containing large amounts of folic acid, and providing vitamins (A, C and B vitamins) and minerals such as calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
Both vegetables improve intestinal transit, strengthen the immune system, protect heart health, and help combat mood swings or irritability, as well as fatigue and excessive tiredness.
Pumpkin is good at fighting constipation thanks to its fiber content, but also because of its high water content that contributes to intestinal transit. Because its fiber content absorbs a lot of water, eating pumpkin provides a feeling of satiety rather quickly and promotes intestinal transit to prevent or reverse constipation.
Onion is one of the most universal foods. It has inulin derivatives and fructooligosaccharide that act as prebiotics, helping to promote bowel functions. It is also diuretic, cardiohealthy and contains vitamin C, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, as well as a high percentage of trace elements.
We can find it in many varieties. When it comes to cooking, include it in your pickled dishes or as an ingredient in your classic recipes or inside a snack.
Plum has a high aqueous content and its predominant nutrient is carbohydrates. It concentrates an appreciable proportion of fiber, making it a perfect fruit to combat constipation. Dry plums are the best option, as they contain 2.3 g of fiber per cup g and also sorbitol, a type of sugar that together with the fiber stimulates the activity of the muscles of the colon, and promotes bowel movement.
You can include them in your in sauces, sweet pastries or they are ideal to accompany meats. They can also be part of a salad or a homemade fresh fruit salad, ideal for the hottest months.
They are also recommended for constipation problems due to their high fiber content, almost 8.5 grams per head. They also have a remarkable content in folic acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, manganese and potassium, the latter being essential for the proper development of the body, bones and muscles.
Asparagus is a great ally of digestion. It contributes to good bowel function and to combat constipation thanks to its fiber content (2.8 grams per cup). It is also a low calorie and diuretic food with many nutrients such as vitamin A, B, C and E.
Fruits of the forest
Red fruits, especially currants, raspberries and blackberries, have a high fiber content (about six grams per 100g) that acts as a natural laxative.
You can have them at breakfast in pancakes or afternoon tea, fresh, in jams or desserts.
Chickpeas, as well as legumes in general (lentils, beans, peas…), due to their high fiber content, are beneficial in combating constipation. Their high fiber content, 17 g every 100g promote the regularity of a healthy digestive system. They also provide calcium, potassium and vitamins C and B.
Another fruit with good fiber supply is pomegranate. It contains 4 g of fiber every 100 g and provides good nutrients for the body such as phenolic compounds with antioxidant function, potassium, magnesium, plant calcium to a lesser extent, a minimum of vitamin C as well as iron and copper.
The fig has a remarkable laxative power, so it is highly recommended to people with constipation or stomach problems. It is a good ally to recover intestinal transit and avoid problems arising from its malfunction.
Research published by the Spanish Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics concluded that eating three green kiwis a day significantly improves intestinal rhythm and constipation, thanks to its high fiber intake. The kiwi provides approximately 3 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
It is one of the most desired summer fruits. Because of its fiber content, peach is effective in cases of constipation and useful for regulating intestinal transit.
Although it is considered an astringent fruit, apple is an excellent intestinal regulator. If consumed raw and with skin (where it concentrates high amount of insoluble fiber) it is very useful to stimulate intestinal activity and treat constipation.
It is a very versatile ingredient to include in your dishes, from desserts to starters or as an accompaniment.
Oranges provide a good amount of fiber that improves intestinal transit. Oranges contain 8 g of fiber for every 100 g. Oranges are powerful antioxidant thanks to their great contribution of Vitamin C. Oranges also contain folic acid, calcium, magnesium, beta carotene and even help to take care of our vision.
Dried fruits are powerful foods against constipation because they have a large amount of fiber (15-18 grams percent) and also have sorbitol, an alcohol sugar that is not digested thus an intestinal stimulant to facilitate evacuation.
You can incorporate them in various preparations such as uncooked energy bars, a gluten-free cake, a nutritious and satiating salad, or a chocolate ideal for Christmas.
Pear also contains a good fiber supply (a medium pear with skin contains 5.5g) and is composed of much water. It also contains pectin, a substance that regulates bowel movements and the purification of the body.
Banana contains carbohydrates, but is also rich in fiber and contains inulin, a natural prebiotic.
Banana is also one of the foods with the most potassium at our disposal, as well as B-complex vitamins, magnesium, vitamin A and carotenes, being therefore a very appropriate food for the functioning of the nervous and muscle system.
Leek is a food where we can find prebiotics, compounds that have the ability to modify the intestinal flora and help prevent constipation since it improves intestinal transit. In addition, thanks to its high content of vitamins C, E and B6, it improves blood circulation and helps reduce cholesterol and triglycerides.
It is widely used in creams and soups, but in itself it is a delight that is worth taking advantage of.
Bran is the “shell” of the grain and therefore has high fiber content, giving a darker color and a harder texture to the whole grain. Wheat bran is an excellent source of protein and plant fiber. It has 40 percent fiber in its composition and 30 to 41 grams (every 100g) of insoluble fiber. This makes it a great ally to prevent and combat intestinal inactivity.
You can add a few tablespoons to yogurt, milk, orange juice, a filling of savory or sweet cakes and also to sauces and salad dressings if you like the texture.
Flaxseeds are a food you can add to your diet as they has important nutritional benefits. They are a source of essential fatty acids and have a high protein content as well as water-soluble fiber, no less than 27 grams every 100, making them an extraordinary remedy for constipation.
You can add them to the breakfast milk bowl, salads, smoothies, bread making or as an ingredient when preparing meatballs.
Tomato is an energy-poor food that provides just 20 calories per 100 grams, and its insoluble fiber content gives it laxative properties. It also contains vitamins and minerals that make it a powerful antioxidant to prevent disease.
It is consumed all year round, both raw and cooked, and is a very healthy ingredient in a multitude of dishes. In sauces, pastas or cakes or classic fried green tomatoes.
The grape is a sweet fruit with energetic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and is among the fruits known as natural laxatives to promote intestinal activity.
Ideally, take them, as is, with the skin, which contains most of the fiber. You can also include them in juices combined with other fruits.
Yogurts contain probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which prevent imbalance of intestinal flora that causes disorders such as constipation. They also contain inulin, a plant fiber that benefits the digestive system. In addition to the yogurt itself, other fermented milks are also a source of probiotics.