Six Nutritional Elements for Relieving Constipation and Improving Bowel Performance

Constipation, characterized by infrequent bowel movements, affects many individuals due to factors such as inadequate fiber intake, insufficient fluid consumption, and lack of physical activity, as highlighted by Mayo Clinic.

Fortunately, making simple dietary changes can help prevent or alleviate constipation symptoms, although it is crucial to seek medical assistance if experiencing severe abdominal pain, blood in the stool, vomiting, or fever.

1. High-Fiber Foods

Fiber plays a vital role in the digestive process, yet only 7% of adults meet the recommended daily fiber intake, according to the American Nutrition Association. Cleveland Clinic suggests adults should consume between 22 and 34 grams of fiber daily. Meeting these daily fiber recommendations can effectively combat constipation.

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both offer numerous health benefits. According to Harvard Health, soluble and insoluble fibers work together to regulate bowel movements, soften stool, remove waste from the body, prevent constipation, and maintain bowel health.

2. Prunes

Prunes, also known as dried plums, are renowned for improving bowel movements with just 3.5 grams consumed daily for eight weeks. Studies suggest that prunes, rich in fiber and sorbitol, act as a natural laxative. When sorbitol reaches the colon without being digested, the body attempts to eliminate it, promoting bowel movements, as stated by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

3. Yogurt

Probiotic-rich foods, like yogurt and kefir, contain beneficial bacteria known to enhance intestinal health, alleviate constipation, soften stool, and reduce abdominal pain. According to Healthline, kefir, a fermented milk drink with probiotics, can aid in relieving constipation. Research indicates that consuming kefir may reduce abdominal pain and prevent constipation in a range of 10% to 40%.

4. Fruits

Consuming fiber-rich fruits such as apples, pears, kiwi, and berries regularly can promote regular bowel movements. Fruits and vegetables contain non-digestible fibers that absorb water and expand during passage through the digestive system, calming irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and stimulating regular bowel movements, thus preventing or alleviating constipation.

Citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruits, are particularly beneficial for constipation sufferers. Research has shown that these fruits contain soluble fibers that can help relieve constipation, along with a flavonoid called naringenin, known for its mild laxative effect.

5. Oats

Oats are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which dissolves in water. Consuming soluble fiber enhances stool passage rates. Oat bran, made from the outer husk of oats, can be particularly beneficial in relieving constipation. A 2019 study found that oat bran helps prevent and treat constipation while contributing to healthy digestion.

6. Water and Fluids

Dehydration is a common cause of constipation. When the large intestine absorbs too much water from stool, it becomes dry and difficult to pass. Therefore, maintaining adequate hydration is crucial for bowel movement regularity. Healthy juices can also aid in constipation relief in many cases, as reported by Medical News Today.

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