Top 10 foods to alleviate constipation

By Nutrition Consultant, Jess Robinson

Perhaps uncomfortable and a little awkward to discuss, but indeed this is a common occurrence for many people. Constipation can cause abdominal bloating, cramps and flatulence, which is embarrassing for many people. Ideally you should be having one to three bowel motions a day; these should be easily passed without straining. Common causes of constipation include lack of dietary fibre, insufficient water intake, an inactive lifestyle and stress. Thankfully, this issue can be easily addressed by making some dietary changes. These are the top ten foods to promote efficient elimination:

1. Beans

Often underestimated, they are full of vitamins and minerals as well as being an excellent source of plant-based protein. When we say beans we are talking about broad beans, black beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, butter beans, lima beans and even chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). Cup for cup, they contain almost double the fibre that vegetables do; making them very effective for alleviating constipation. Beans are also incredibly versatile and can be added to soups, stews and salads.

2. Psyllium husk

Is a gentle bulk laxative that softens the stool, cleanses the bowel, and facilitates regular bowel motions. Psyllium husk is extremely high in fibre and is present in Fibretone – the gluten free superfood for healthy bowels.

3. Kiwi fruit

This furry green fruit is high in fibre and also provides the stool-softening and antioxidant properties of vitamin C. It is high in both soluble fibre, which helps to hold water and create larger and softer stools; and insoluble fibre, which adds extra bulk to stools to allow easy movement through the digestive tract.

4. Flaxseeds

Ground flaxseeds are a super convenient and efficient way to boost the fibre intake of your meals, and can be easily added to smoothies, muesli, oats, salads or legumes. Like kiwi fruit, they contain soluble and insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre compacts your stool to make it easier to pass; and soluble fibre holds water and softens stool.

5. Apple

The old saying ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ certainly has merit. Not only delicious and crispy, apples also contain pectin; a naturally occurring fibre that adds bulk to the stool to support healthy elimination from the body.

6. Leafy green vegetables

Vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, kale, Bok choy and lettuce are extremely rich in dietary fibre, and ideally these vegetables should be consumed daily in raw vegetable salads. High in soluble and insoluble fibre and magnesium they sweep the colon and cleanse the digestive tract to support regular evacuation of the bowels.

7. Oranges

To alleviate constipation, we recommend eating an orange as opposed to orange juice; as it is higher in fibre and does not contain added sugar and preservatives like the majority of orange juices available on the market. Not only are they high in fibre, they are also high in vitamin C and contain a flavonol called naringenin; which acts as a natural laxative.

8. Oats

Are a fantastic source of fibre and excellent breakfast choice as they are high in soluble and insoluble fibre; which work together to bulk and soften the stool to ease constipation. Make sure to purchase traditional oats that are not processed or sugary.

9. Berries

Encompassing strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and boysenberries, they are high in fibre and bursting with antioxidants. Consumed raw or frozen, they can be easily added to salads, smoothies, desserts or consumed by themselves.

10. Bananas

Rich in vitamins and minerals, these yellow fruits are also high in fibre and can absorb water; helping to keep stools compact and soft. Bananas are a wonderful addition to smoothies, desserts and breakfast cereals.

Read Dr Cabot’s book Healthy Bowel, Healthy Body for learning the vital principles for a healthy digestive system and further strategies for overcoming constipation. There are specific recipes for easing constipation in Dr Cabot’s book Raw Juices Can Save Your Life.

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