By Grant J Everett
While constipation isn’t a glamourous topic, it’s an extremely common affliction that can affect anybody.
Most experts agree that three or fewer bowel movements per week could indicate a problem.
The majority of cases are caused by our lifestlyes, especially diet. Very few of us get enough fibre each day, and most of us don’t drink enough water.
Sometimes, ongoing constipation can be a sign of a medical problem, or be caused by certain medications, in which case, see a doctor.
Here is a list of some things that may help.
Water, fibre and regular exercise are the holy trinity of relieving constipation. Just being a bit dehydrated will make toilet time more difficult. Drink 8 to 10 glasses a day, and eat plenty of foods with a high water content.
Prunes are practically synonymous with treating constipation. They’re very rich in fibre at about 1 gram of fibre per prune (the average person should have 25 grams of fibre a day). Prunes also contain other substances that have a laxative effect.
Beans contain a type of fibre-like starch that has a lot of benefits to offer your digestive system. Yes, beans may cause gas and bloating, so it’s up to you if the pluses outweigh the negatives.
Fruit that’s high in fibre and low in fructose is worth its weight in gold. One cup of kiwi fruit contains 5 grams of fibre, plus lots of other nutrients (like more than double your daily dose of vitamin C).
When you juice an orange you lose all the fibre and end up with little more than sugar water, so you are much better off with an actual orange. One large orange offers 4 grams of fibre at just 86 calories . Like prunes, citrus fruits also contain other natural laxatives.
Half a cup of oats offers 2 grams of insoluble fibre and 2 grams of soluble fibre. Without getting too technical, these two types compliment each other and are more than the sum of their parts.
In a Japanese study it was found that people who ate the most rice were 41% less likely to suffer from constipation. If you want to eat rice for the fibre content, brown rice offers 4 times as much fibre as the white kind.
One cup of cooked spinach contains 4 grams of fibre and is an excellent source of magnesium. As there’s a whole range of laxatives based on magnesium, adding more of it to your diet can help.
If traditional beans gas you up too much, try green beans. While much lower in protein and carbs, green beans still contain 4 grams of fibre per cup. They shouldn’t come with the gassy side effect of regular beans, either.
Many yogurts contain bacterial cultures that replenish the good bacteria in your gut. This helps with the entire digestive system. Try to avoid the yoghurts that are high in sugar and fat, as they can be as unhealthy as ice cream.
Eating breakfast starts all of your bodily functions, and choosing fibre-rich foods for your morning meal (like the aforementioned porridge, yoghurt, flaxseeds and oranges) will further prompt your natural urge to go.