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14+ Foods That Help With Constipation: What to Eat and What to Avoid?
Gut Health

14+ Foods That Help With Constipation: What to Eat and What to Avoid?

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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 September 5
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15 min
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Health Reporter dives into the world of constipation and seeks to answer the question: “Can certain foods help ease the struggles that come with constipation?”

You probably have had constipation at least once in your life. It’s crucial to see your doctor if the issue persists or includes significant discomfort or bleeding because these signs may point to a more serious digestive illness. 

Constipation is typically merely a warning that your diet needs more fiber and probably extra liquids as well.

14 Foods & Drinks That Might Help With Constipation

#1 Berries
#2 Apple juice
#3 Cranberry juice
#4 Oatmeal
#5 Peanut butter
#6 Popcorn
#7 Beans
#8 Dried fruit
#9 High-fiber cereal
#10 Whole-grain bread
#11 Broccoli
#12 Pears, plums, and apples
#13 Nuts
#14 Baked potatoes

What Is Constipation?

When you have difficult or infrequent bowel movements, you are constipated. Most people experience it at some point.

Even while it’s generally nothing serious, once your body is back on track, you’ll feel considerably better.

Individual differences in the average interval between bowel motions are significant. Some individuals have them three times daily. Some people only get them a couple of times per week.

However, going without one for more than three or more days at a time is typically too lengthy. Your feces are tougher and trickier to pass after three days.

What are the symptoms of constipation?

  • Almost no bowel motions
  • Problems going to the bathroom (straining to go)
  • Small or hard stools
  • A feeling that nothing worked out
  • Stomach bloating

What causes constipation?

  • Sudden changes to your diet
  • Not drinking enough water or a lack of fiber
  • Eating too many dairy group products
  • Not being active enough in everyday life
  • Not going for number two’s enough
  • Stress
  • Using laxatives too frequently
  • Some medications may cause constipation
  • IBS
  • Pregnancy

So basically, there are a ton of reasons as to why a person may be feeling constipated, and it is good practice to check with your doctor and see if any of the above or other reasons may be causing you to feel this way.

14 Tasty Foods & Drinks That Help With Constipation

Men and women between the ages of 3 and 50 consume approximately 38 g of fiber daily, while women should try to consume at least 25 g daily. And as we age, our fiber needs to decrease: 

Men should consume at least 30 g of fiber daily, while women 51 and older need about 21 g. It has long been understood that getting enough fiber is crucial for managing weight and preventing obesity.

#1 Berries

Pick from delectable strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries for a sweet constipation cure. These are a few examples of fruits that are high in fiber. Fresh strawberries have 3 g of fiber per cup, compared to 7.6 g and 8 g of fiber, respectively, in blackberries and raspberries of the same size.

Because berries are low in calories, you can top your cereal with them for the morning, stir them into pancake batter, or enjoy a large dish of plain berries for dessert with low-fat whipped cream.

#2 Apple juice

You might have a very little laxative effect from apple juice. Due to its high proportion of fructose to glucose and sorbitol, it is frequently suggested for kids who experience constipation. But due to this, it may also, in high dosages, result in intestinal pain.

#3 Cranberry juice

Constipation is frequently brought on by dehydration.

When the body is dehydrated, it stores fluid that would typically be secreted in the colon, which causes the stool to become more compact and difficult to pass.

Constipation is easily treated by increasing fluid intake, which includes cranberry juice or prune juice diluted with water.

Each 8-ounce portion of the juice has 120 calories and 14 grams of carbs.

The body stimulates the large intestine to contract and transport the stool along when it receives the proper amount of food and drink in the form of calories and water.

#4 Oatmeal

By keeping your digestive system functioning, oatmeal can undoubtedly give you a sensation of freedom and ease inside. Additionally, a study found that eating oatmeal may support healthy weight maintenance and lowering of blood sugar and cholesterol levels. 

You can improve your dietary decisions by becoming more knowledgeable about the different forms of fiber and their associated advantages.

#5 Peanut butter

Given its high fiber content, peanut butter is unlikely to make most people constipated. Constipation is more likely to be brought on by insufficient daily fiber and fluid intake. However, when eating peanut butter regularly as part of their diet, some people may also have a peanut sensitivity that can result in constipation.

#6 Popcorn

A wonderful low-calorie strategy to increase your intake of fiber is by eating popcorn. But if you add a lot of salt and butter, some of its advantages can be lost. Choose microwave popcorn that is healthful or air-popped popcorn. Since popcorn is a whole grain, increasing your intake of these can help you relieve constipation.

#7 Beans

Beans and lentils have twice as much fiber per cup as the majority of veggies. The amount of fiber in a serving of navy beans is 9.4 g, compared to 7.6 g in a serving of pinto beans of the same size. 

Although lima, great northern, and kidney beans have a little less fiber every 12 cups, they still contain a remarkable 4.4 g or more. Beans can be added to salads, soups, casseroles, or pasta recipes. They are highly adaptable.

#8 Dried fruit

Another excellent source of dietary fiber that relieves constipation is dried fruits, such as dates, figs, prunes, apricots, and raisins.

Prunes, in particular, are great since they contain sorbitol, a natural laxative, in addition to being high in fiber. Sorbitol is a form of carbohydrate with a chemical structure comparable to sugar, just like fiber.

Because fiber isn’t digested, it holds onto the water as it moves through your digestive system. This water helps to treat constipation by softening your stools. Just keep in mind that dried fruits are high in calories and may have extra sugar, so if you’re monitoring your weight, check your quantities and choose kinds without added sugar.

#9 Whole-grain bread

You should only consume bread made entirely of whole grains if you wish to avoid constipation. Whole-grain bread is firm in dietary fiber and complex carbs while being low in fat.

Before purchasing, read the label: Before identifying the type of grain, the first ingredient should be whole, for example, whole-wheat flour. Loaves of bread labeled seven-grain and multigrain but prepared with enriched flour shouldn’t be taken as gospel. 

There is no assurance that any of the grains in these goods, which may contain a variety of grains, are whole grains.

Look for bread with 3 g or more of fiber per slice. Diet bread frequently contains more fiber. By adding extra fiber, bakers make diet bread lighter.

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#10 High-fiber cereal

Breakfast cereals high in fiber used to taste like cardboard, but not anymore. These days, there are so many fantastic high-fiber cereals. Pick a cereal with 6 g or more of fiber per serving. Alternatively, if your preferred cereal lacks fiber, you may add your own by topping it with a couple of tablespoons of wheat bran, chia seeds, or crushed flaxseed.

#11 Broccoli

Broccoli is a fantastic source of fiber, similar to beans. It provides a wealth of nutrients and has a low caloric count. Eat your broccoli raw to get the most fiber for your money; heating it can lessen the amount of fiber it contains. 

To avoid adding extra calories, try steaming, broiling, or baking your broccoli if you want it prepared. To enhance flavor, toss it with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

#12 Pears, plums, and apples

Being bloated from constipation can be treated by increasing your fruit intake because fruit is also high in dietary fiber. Plums, pears, and apples are wonderful options since they contain a lot of fiber and have a high pectin content, which is a type of naturally occurring fiber. 

A medium apple with skin and a small unpeeled pear each have 4.5 g of fiber.

#13 Nuts

Nuts are yet another excellent source of fiber. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts are among the best. A 1-ounce serving of almonds has 3.5 grams of fiber, compared to 2.9 grams in a serving of pistachios and 2.7 grams in a serving of pecans. 

Just be mindful of your intake since nuts are high in calories. It is suggested to fill the palm portion of your hand in a cup.

#14 Baked potatoes

Good news, potato lovers: 3.8 g of fiber is found in one medium baked potato with skin. Roasted sweet potato with skin has 4.8 g of fiber, which is even better.

Another excellent method for serving potatoes is to boil them and then mash them with the skin on. The french fries are optional because they contain a lot of unhealthy saturated fat. Instead, cut potatoes into fries, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with your own herbs and spices, and bake until crisp. They will have the same flavor as french fries without the extra calories and bad fat.

So there you have it, fourteen fantastic and tasty foods that will please your stomach and help alleviate the risk of constipation. Having a balanced diet will also help you, but be sure to try and include as much of the above, or even do your own research into tasty recipes that relieve constipation.

8 Foods to Avoid When Constipated

So we’ve looked at what foods will aid you in your mission to fight off constipation, but what about the other end of the spectrum – what foods should you avoid at all costs so as not to make constipation worse?

what to avoid when constipated foods and drinks

#1 Dairy

Do yourself a favor and examine your nutrition if you experience constipation frequently. Having too much cheese or milk is one of the items that can clog you up. 

You might only need to consume less dairy and alter your eating habits rather than giving it up entirely. Probiotic yogurt is live bacteria that are beneficial for your digestive system. It might aid in easing constipation.

When soy milk was substituted for cow’s milk in one study group of 13 kids, nine of them got relief from constipation.

#2 Fast-food

Do you frequently eat on the move because of your busy schedule? Although those prepared meals might be practical, a backup might result. Most are lacking in fiber, which is necessary to aid in the digestion of food. Your digestion may quicken if you take some time to relax.

We all have the cravings, and some of us have the lifestyle that goes perfectly alongside a quick trip to McDonald’s, but too frequently can leave your stomach in all kinds of bother.

#3 Fried food

Even though some homemade fried chicken is almost impossible to resist, if you’re having trouble going to the bathroom, think about choosing an entree with extra fiber. 

Fried foods are fatty and difficult to digest. Too much water can be removed from your colon when food passes slowly through it. A stiff, dry stool results from that.

#4 Eggs

They are low in fiber but high in protein. They don’t have to be removed from the menu. Just mix in some foods strong in fiber. Try making an omelet with tomatoes and fresh spinach.

They are a staple of most people’s diets, so we are not for one minute suggesting that you can no longer eat eggs for breakfast – just approach it with caution and have them accompanied by something else for your meal to help your stomach.

#5 Meat

We can hear you all yelling at your screens – never threaten to take meat away from meat lovers; it never ends well.

But rest assured, this is not the case. Like with eggs, everything is safe to a certain extent, but just be sure not to go crazy and pile up too much on your plate too regularly.

That delicious steak, which is high in protein and fat but low in fiber, needs to be countered with a side of broccoli. That will make it easier for food to pass through your digestive system.

#6 Cakes

Another one that might have people turning a blind eye – who doesn’t love cake, and who are we to take that away from you?

There are several reasons why having a sweet dessert should only occur occasionally rather than on a regular basis. 

Cookies, pastries, and other sweets made with refined sugar are heavy in fat and poor in fiber and fluids. If you’re having difficulties keeping things going, it is not a good idea. Strawberries and yogurt will sate your sweet tooth. Your stomach will appreciate it.

#7 White bread

We know how easy it is to load up on white bread: sandwiches, PB&J, you name it. 

Again, you are, of course, allowed to have the occasional cheat day and treat yourself to some soft white bread – just don’t go overdoing it.

You’ll experience firm, dry stools if you eat too much of this. Low-fiber white flour is used to make it. Instead, use whole-grain toast. Your subsequent trip to the restroom might go more smoothly as a result.

#8 Alcohol

We know – it seems like everything anyone enjoys eating or drinking is finding its way onto our list. But that is for a good reason.

All the really tasty things in life come at a price, and they can be enjoyed in moderation. But let’s be honest, no one is overly surprised to see alcohol make its way onto this list.

Like coffee, alcohol can make it difficult for your body to retain water. That may cause issues with your potty visits until you rehydrate. If you’re going to drink a cocktail, sip a glass of water concurrently to keep the conversation continuing.

5 Medication That Will Help With Constipation

Most medication seems to have some sort of link to constipation, and this is not usually in a good way. Many medications, in fact, cause constipation or worsen the effects.

There are supplements out there that can help with constipation. Below are some of the best we could find.

#1 Vitamin D

A 2019 study discovered a significant link between persistent constipation and vitamin D deficits.

Vitamin D levels were lower in people who had intestinal conditions that led to constipation. However, given that low vitamin D levels may be a result of long-term constipation, these findings do not imply that adding vitamin D can alleviate the condition.

However, increased calcium and vitamin D levels in the body have been linked to a number of digestive problems, including diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain. 

It is crucial to let your doctor know if you are taking any supplements because these symptoms could also be the first indication of other health problems.

#2 Magnesium

Certain types of the mineral magnesium may aid in relieving constipation in addition to performing a variety of other vital functions in your body.

For instance, studies have demonstrated that magnesium sulfate, magnesium oxide, and magnesium citrate all reduce constipation symptoms.

When compared to a placebo, taking 1.5 grams of magnesium oxide per day significantly improved stool consistency, quality of life, and the amount of time it took for the food to be digested to pass through the colon in a high-quality, 28-day study of 34 women with mild to moderate constipation.

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#3 Aloe vera

People use aloe vera as a natural treatment for a variety of ailments, including constipation. According to studies, it has potent laxative properties and stimulates colon mucus output.

Aloe vera pills may also help treat constipation, mainly if the condition is linked to IBS, according to studies.

In one analysis of three studies including 151 IBS patients, some of whom had constipation, aloe vera drinks and pills of aloe extract were found to considerably lessen IBS symptoms when compared to a placebo.

Aloe vera was deemed safe for the temporary therapy of IBS.

#4 Probiotics

A healthy gut microbiome may be supported by taking probiotic supplements. As a result, it might aid in easing constipation symptoms.

Probiotic pills shortened the time it took for the food to pass through the colon and increased stool frequency and consistency, according to an analysis of 14 research on individuals with chronic constipation.

#5 Carnitine

An essential ingredient for generating energy is carnitine. A lack of carnitine may impair cellular activity and cause constipation and other digestive problems.

A carnitine deficiency is more prevalent in people with intellectual and motor disabilities than in the general population.

That’s because individuals who are unable to feed themselves may be dependent on enteral feeding, which involves inserting a feeding tube into their digestive system. This food may occasionally contain little carnitine.

5 Medication to Avoid When Constipated

Here’s the list of medications that are reported to have a constipating effect on some people:

#1 Antibiotics

There are two ways that antibiotics may cause constipation. The first is by messing with your gut flora, and the second is by depriving your body of essential minerals required for a healthy digestive system.

But if any prescription makes you constipated, think about boosting your diet with fiber and working out every day to keep your intestines flowing.

#2 Tylenol

Compared to NSAIDs or opioid medicines, Tylenol has a lower risk of causing constipation. Constipation was a side effect that up to 10% of persons using acetaminophen at therapeutic levels reported.

#3 Ibuprofen

According to recent studies, 15% of adults take more ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory medications than is advised for daily use.

Ibuprofen can be one of the causes of constipation, but few people are aware of this. Many people are aware of the potential adverse effects of NSAIDs, such as the increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers.

#4 Iron

Oral iron supplements may make some people constipated. Some people take their iron supplements with meals or with a stool softener to try and alleviate constipation to lessen the sensations of gastrointestinal discomfort.

Even though iron is among the divalent iron salts that are known for being stomach-friendly and rarely causing side effects, some persons nevertheless react to iron more delicately than others. Consequently, iron may result in constipation in some individuals. The danger of adverse effects increases with the consumption of more iron.

#5 Calcium

Even though it’s unusual, folks who take supplements might get too much calcium from diet alone. Constipation may result from overusing calcium supplements.

However, some people must keep taking calcium supplements. Doctors advise consuming calcium throughout the day to lower the chance of constipation from supplements.

Sometimes, taking calcium with meals or switching the calcium’s brand or form can assist.

Calcium citrate, which is more expensive but less likely to result in digestive issues, is less likely to produce constipation than calcium carbonate, a type of calcium that is frequently found in supplements.

Conclusion

We know what you are thinking…

The contrast between the lists is strikingly obvious to all – we know which group sounds more appealing to most. You can have a perfectly healthy diet by combining the above-mentioned food and supplements and using it in moderation – the trick is not to load up on food and drink that will cause constipation.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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