Fast Food Burgers & Pizza
When you waste your meals on junk like nutrient-void burgers and greasy pizza, that means you’re not consuming healthy fare that supports optimal digestion. Fast food burgers, for example, are filled with dehydrating-salt and digestion-slowing fat. To add insult to injury, all that is sandwiched between two fiber-free white bunsnot what you want to be wasting your precious calories on if you’re prone to potty problems. Pizzaholics face many of the same issues. Pizza and cheese are the biggest food sources of saturated fat in the U.S. diet, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. And the crust is pretty much free of any nutrients the body can utilize for better health.
When To See A Doctor
Langer recommends seeking medical help if you are experiencing symptoms of constipation for three consecutive months. “At this point, it is considered chronic and it’s time to seek medical help,” she says.
According to Jones, constipation may also be a sign of other underlying medical issues like:
Pelvic floor disorder
Inflammatory bowel disease
You should also immediately seek medical help if you are experiencing constipation and notice blood in your stool, as this may be an indicator of a more serious medical problem such as anal or colon cancer.
Whole Wheat Breads Cereals And Pastas
Whole wheat products are an excellent source of insoluble fiber, which adds weight to stools and speeds up the flow of materials through the intestines.
To get the most nutrients from whole wheat products, eat them raw or lightly cooked.
Whole wheat breads and cereals that also contain nuts and seeds pack even more fiber into each serving.
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Constipation Symptoms And Causes
Constipation is a pressing digestive issue that affects your bowel movement. How often you have a bowel movement is subjective however, fewer than two to three weekly bowel movements is a conventional description of constipation. At least one bowel movement daily is considered normal however, two or three would be better.
It becomes a concern when you fail to have a bowel movement for longer than three days. After three days, the stool is far more difficult to pass. Other common constipation symptoms include:
- Abdominal pains
- Gas and bloating
The most common cause of constipation is a low-fiber diet. Other causes include inadequate fluid, lack of physical activity, ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement, or taking medications such as diuretics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antispasmodics, iron supplements, blood pressure medications, antacids, anti-Parkinsons disease drugs, or pain medications like narcotics.
It can also be a symptom of a specific condition or disease, such as diabetes, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, hyperthyroidism, pituitary disorders, diverticulosis, irritable bowel syndrome , an imbalance of gut bacteria , or colon cancer.
Feeling Heavy And Sluggish From Constipation Take A Closer Look At This List Of Foods That Make You Poop
When you need a little help with constipation, look to your diet to get things moving! Fresh produce and hearty beans are some of the high-fiber foods that make you poop.
Whether youre experiencing the discomfort of constipation or simply want to feel lighter, eating foods high in fiber and other nutrients can get you feeling better fast.
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Flaxseeds And Chia Seeds
Flaxseeds and chia seeds are tiny seeds loaded with fiber:
Flaxseeds: 2 grams of fiber per tablespoon
Chia seeds: 5.5 grams of fiber per tablespoon
A small 2019 study compared the effects of supplementing flaxseeds, psyllium , or a placebo on managing constipation in patients with type 2 diabetes. They found that both flaxseeds and psyllium decreased symptoms of constipation.
Opt for ground flaxseeds, as they are easier to digest. You can incorporate ground flaxseeds or chia seeds into your diet by sprinkling them onto salads, baked goods, oatmeal, or smoothies.
Nuts And Seeds For Constipation Relief
Nuts are a filling food that is also packed with fiber to help ease constipation.
- Almonds, pecans, and walnuts have more fiber than other nuts. Just 1 ounce of almonds contains 3.5 g fiber, 1 ounce of pecans contains 2.7 g fiber, and 1 ounce of walnuts has 1.9 g fiber.
- Seeds are another good fiber-filled choice for constipation relief. A scant 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds contains 1.1 g fiber, while 1 ounce of pumpkin seeds has a whopping 5 g fiber. Sprinkle seeds on top of salads for added fiber and crunch.
Remember that nuts and seeds are high in calories, so keep portions small. Choose nuts and seeds that are raw or dry roasted, rather than roasted in oil.
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For Serious Constipation There Are Options
If your constipation is severe and does not improve withchanges to your diet and lifestyle, there may be other options that you candiscuss with your doctor. Surgery is the very last option.
A wide range of laxatives are available, plus there arepro-motility drugs that a doctor can prescribe. Sometimes at-home remedies canbring relief, too, like dietary vegetable or mineral oil to lubricate thebowels.
Heres the bottom line: Try simple fixes first, but if theyfail, dont suffer needlessly. If you think your bowel movements are not whatyou would consider normal, discuss it first with your primary care physician, whocan talk with you about treatments or refer you to a specialist who can helpget your bowels moving again.
Other Causes Of Constipation
Your constipation might not be caused by the foods you eat or your lifestyle, which is why its important that you consult with your healthcare professional to determine the cause and come up with a treatment plan together. Some more serious causes of constipation include:
Colon, abdominal or rectal cancer
Narrowing of the colon
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Prunes For Constipation Relief
- Prunes were grandma’s remedy. They could be yours, too. Prunes are high in insoluble fiber as well as the natural laxativesorbitol, which can help you “go.”
- Researchers at the University of Iowa tested dried, pitted plums against psyllium in 40 adults who were constipated. Those given the plums had measurably higher spontaneous bowel movements than those given the laxative.
- Prunes juice is also helpful at relieving constipation in babies.
Medically Reviewed on 3/25/2021Aliment Pharmacol TherJournal of Nutrition
Foods That Make You Constipated
Constipation can occur for a number of reasons: A lack of exercise, ignoring the urge to go, and certain medications and supplements can be to blame. However, your diet is typically the primary culpritand certain foods are harder on the body than others. To help you keep things moving on the reg, we’ve tracked down common foods that make you constipated. And to cover all our bases, we’ve also included a number of eats that will worsen your symptoms if you’re already backed up.
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Common Causes Of Constipation
To understand how to prevent constipation, it helps to know what causes it. As food passes through your colon, your body absorbs the water from it, and what’s left forms into stool. Your muscles move it through the colon to the rectum, where you pass it. When this movement slows down, your colon draws too much water. Stools get dry and hard to pass, causing constipation.
The problem often happens because of a low-fiber or high-fat diet, lack of exercise, and not drinking enough fluids. Certain medications, not going when you feel the urge, laxative abuse, and pregnancy can also lead to constipation.
Laxatives Stool Softeners And Other Products
You can buy stool softeners at any pharmacy. They will help you pass stool more easily.
Your provider may prescribe a laxative to relieve your constipation. It may be a pill or liquid. Do not take it if you have severe stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting. Do not take it for more than 1 week without consulting your provider. It should start to work in 2 to 5 days.
- Only take a laxative as often as your provider recommends. Most laxatives are taken with meals and at bedtime.
- You can mix powder laxatives with milk or fruit juice to make them taste better.
- Always drink plenty of water when you are using laxatives.
- Store your laxative medicine safely in a medicine cabinet, where children cannot get to it.
- Do not take any other laxatives or medicines before talking with your provider. This includes mineral oil.
Some people get a rash, nausea, or a sore throat while taking laxatives. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and children under age 6 years should not take laxatives without the advice of a provider.
Bulk-forming laxatives such as Metamucil or Citrucel can help pull water into your intestines and make your stools more bulky.
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Fiber Helps Relieve Constipation
If your bowel habits get sluggish, you don’t have to rush out to buy a laxative. Most people don’t need them for mild constipation. Instead, look at your diet. Are you getting enough fiber?
Fiber is the part of plant foods that the body can’t break down. When you eat foods that have a lot of it, the extra bulk helps keep stools soft and speeds digestion.
All plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, have fiber. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams for men. After age 50, we need less fiber — about 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men. Unfortunately, most of us only get about 15 grams per day, which may help explain why so many people get constipated.
Examples of high-fiber foods include:
- 1/2 cup navy beans: 9.5 grams
- 1 small pear: 4.4 grams
- 1/4 cup dates: 3.6 grams
- 1 medium apple: 3.3 grams
- 1 medium sweet potato: 4.8 grams
Foods That Cause Constipation
Dairy products: It is best to avoid dairy when feeling constipated. Milk, cheese, and other dairy products are foods that have a long history of causing constipation. Dairy products are considered mucus-forming foods that can slow the transit time of waste during the digestive process. The lactose in dairy is thought to produce the uncomfortable symptoms associated with constipation.
Red meat: Red meat is heavy in fat and does not contain fiber. Foods high in saturated fats move through the intestines slowly and impair digestion. Red meat contains large amounts of the red-colored pigment called myoglobin, which is high in iron. Excessive iron in the diet may harden the stools and lead to constipation.
Gluten-containing foods: Processed foods have very little fiber, and many of them also contain gluten such as cookies, breads, pastas, and baked goods. Gluten sensitivity is often at the core of many digestive disorders, such as IBS or diverticulosis, where constipation is a common symptom.
Stimulants: Alcohol, caffeine, and sugar are stimulants that lead to constipation. Alcohol and caffeine are hard on digestion and can also lead to dehydration. Constipation can result when stools are hard and dry from dehydration. The low fiber in many sugary products can also produce constipation. Alcohol will also cause an electrolyte-loss electrolytes help provide moisture to stools.
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Other Remedies For Constipation
Keep in mind that the bowels may need to be retrained. Here are some common rules to retrain the bowels:
- Figure out the cause of your constipation and make necessary changes. For example, stop over-using laxatives, or discover which medication is causing your constipation.
- Never hold in a bowel movement.
- Drink up to eight glasses of pure, filtered water daily.
- Set a specific time to defecate every day, such as after breakfast or after exercising.
- Maintain a regular exercise routine of 20 minutes a day, three times weekly.
Once youve followed these steps and have eaten the best foods for constipation relief, there are also other natural treatments for constipation:
- Supplements such as probiotics, magnesium, or digestive enzymes
- Herbal supplements like psyllium husks, aloe vera juice, fenugreek, gentian root, dandelion root, or the Ayurveda herb triphala
- Homeopathic remedies, including nux vomica, natrum muriaticum, sepia, lycopodium, calcarea carbonica, bryonia, alumina, sulphur, or silicea
- Effective essential oils for constipation may include cinnamon leaf, lovage, sweet fennel, sweet marjoram, nutmeg, bitter or sweet orange, cubebs, palmarosa, black pepper, yarrow, turmeric, or tarragon
Why Fiber Helps When You Have Constipation
The best thing you can do to ease constipation is to slowly increase your intake of dietary fiber. Fiber is the part of plant material that you cannot digest.
Fiber is helpful for constipation because it serves to both add bulk and softness to the stool.
- Soluble fiber absorbs water and binds with fatty acids, forming a gel-like substance that keeps stools soft.
- Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, thus providing bulk and moisture to the stool.
- Both types of fiber are good for constipation. Since both insoluble and soluble fibers are found in all plant foods, it is not necessary to try to remember which foods are a good source of which type of fiber.
However, too much fiber too soon can be hard on your system and may add to symptoms of gas and bloating. Therefore, increase your intake of fruits and vegetables slowly. For treating constipation, it is recommended that you increase your fiber intake to 20 to 25 grams per day.
If you have irritable bowel syndrome you may find that your system is better able to handle foods with soluble fiber, as insoluble fiber may trigger your symptoms.
Verywell / Laura Porter
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Dried Fruit For Constipation Relief
- Dried fruit is a smart choice if you’re feeling constipated, as it actually contains more fiber than fresh fruit per serving.
- An easy snack is raisins, with 7 g fiber per cup .
- Aside from prunes, dried fruits such as figs, raisins, and dried apricots are excellent sources of fiber.
- Add dried fruit to cereal, or bake it into bran muffins. Soak it in water to soften it if it’s hard to chew.
Just remember that while dried fruit has more fiber than fresh fruit, it also has more calories.
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If you’ve ever gotten the runs while running, you know that exercise has a regulating effect on the body. Inactivity does the complete opposite: “A low level of physical activity is a major risk factor for constipation,” says James-Stevenson. “This is likely related to decreased gut movement and less blood flow to the gut.” So if your pooping schedule isn’t quite up to par, skipping out on your fitness routine isn’t going to make your situation any better.
“Exercise increases blood flow to the vital organs of the body, including the digestive tract, and increases your metabolism,” says Shah. Any type of exercise is helpful in combatting constipationincluding walking, running, biking, swimming, yoga, and moreso pick your favorite and go nuts.
“Iron and calcium supplements can cause constipation, as they can both slow down the contractions of the GI system,” says Joann Kwah, M.D., attending gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. But proceed with caution: These vitamins are typically recommended by doctors if you have a specific deficiency. So if you have a medical condition that requires you to take them and the side effects are kicking you right in the gut, you can always ask your physician for alternative options .
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Ease Constipation With Exercise
Exercise not only keeps you fit, it may help you stay regular. It can help food move more quickly through your colon. It’s not always easy to find time to be active, but try these tips:
- Start exercising about 20 minutes, 3 days a week, and build up to at least 30 minutes on five or more days of the week. Always check with your doctor before you start any type of fitness plan.
- Short on time? Break up activity throughout the day — three 10-minute walks count as much as one 30-minute workout.
What Do You Do If Your Poop Wont Come Out
Drink plenty of water every day to prevent dehydration. Drink other fluids, such as prune juice, coffee, and tea, that act as natural laxatives. Eat foods that are high in fiber, such as whole wheat, pears, oats, and vegetables. Reduce your intake of foods that are high in sugar, which can cause constipation.
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Curb Meat And Dairy Consumption
When Dr. Arastu has patients complain of constipation, she often has them eliminate dairy for two-weeks to see if anything changes. “Both meat and dairy consumption can often cause constipation,” adds Wilson. You don’t need to completely eliminate these foods, as they’re a good source of protein, but you should be cognizant of how much you digest.
You can either try to replace animal-based proteins for plant-based proteins altogether . Or even just reduce the amount of meat and dairy on your plate and supplement with other plant sources of protein to stay full .
Fiber Is Not Always The Answer
If adding fiber to your diet in the form of food orsupplements makes you more bloated and blocked than before, there are a numberof potential reasons. For example, in slow transit constipation, a conditionwhere the bowel does not move things quickly through, fiber sits in your gut andcan make you feel worse.
Long story short: If fiber makes you worse, dont just addmore. See your doctor.
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Eat Foods High In Insoluble Fiber
Speaking of fiber, it’s often the other puzzle piece needed to get things moving down the track. You’ll want to be cognizant of what kind of fiber you’re eating, however: Both soluble and insoluble fiber are good for you, but it’s insoluble fiber that will really help to alleviate constipation.
“Fiber promotes motility, or movement of food through the digestive tract,” says Wilson. You want to aim to get 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. But be careful, she cautions. “If you’re getting too much fiber, you may feel overly bloated, full, or gassy, so start slow with 20 grams the first week and increase from there, making sure your water increases as well.”
Where to get insoluble fiber from food? Naturally, you’ll get a lot of insoluble fiber from whole grain bread, cereals, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
Fruits and Veggies
Although some veggies and fruits are higher in fiber than others, don’t get too caught up in that, Wilson advises. “Don’t focus excessively if an orange is a better source of fiber than an applebut rather focus on getting five servings of fruit and vegetables every day,” she says.
With breads and grains, make healthy swaps to your typical grain game. Choose whole grain breads, quinoa, oats, and brown rice, and even swap in legumes for meat every now and then to keep you more regular.