Constipation is a condition characterized by difficulty in emptying the intestines, often due to hardened stools. This situation is usually caused by consuming too much protein and not ingesting enough soluble fiber. Also, some medications can cause constipation.
Women should consume a minimum of 25 grams of fiber per day. Men, on the other hand, should consume a minimum of 38 grams per day. Unfortunately, very few people get the recommended daily allowance when it comes to this particular nutrient.
Why is constipation more than a mild annoyance?
Occasional constipation, even while consuming enough fiber and limiting protein intake, is not uncommon. However, if you suffer from chronic constipation, this is a completely different matter.
And it's one you'll want to get under control asap. For reference, the National Institutes of Health, the world's largest biomedical research agency, defined chronic constipation as having fewer than three bowel movements in a given week.
Also, stools are extremely hard and therefore require a lot of effort to evacuate from the anus. While this may sound too clinical, it is the official definition of constipation and also a reality for more than 16 percent of Americans.
Although a poor diet is the main cause of constipation, it can also stem from several underlying health problems, some of which include the following:
· Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
· Thyroid problems
· Muscular dystrophy.
Ironically, many of the medications used to treat these same health problems can also cause constipation. Some of the more common culprits include the following:
· Opioid pain relievers.
· Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
· Levothyroxine and other thyroid medications.
· Emflaza and other glucocorticoid medications.
Of course, other health problems, along with prescription drugs to treat them, can also cause constipation. However, the ones that are listed in this article are among the most common.
Can constipation disappear naturally and without remedies?
Before we discuss whether or not constipation can go away without medical treatment, let's first take a moment to address what could happen if it is not treated. Because most people strain to have a bowel movement when constipated, many will develop painful hemorrhoids.
Worse still, the same strain can also lead to rectal prolapse, a serious lower GI tract problem that often requires surgery. That said, occasional constipation can go away by making dietary changes and taking over-the-counter medications.
However, if the condition leads to hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, or other serious lower GI tract problems, medical treatment will likely be necessary.
15 foods that contain soluble fiber commonly used to relieve constipation
Are you one of the millions of people who struggle with constipation? Then you'll be happy to know that simply adding more soluble fiber to your diet can bring you some relief. Also, at the same time it will reduce your chances of developing worse gastrointestinal problems.
Soluble fiber is a dietary fiber that helps the stool retain more water, making it not only softer but also more consistent. As a result, it can pass through the intestines and eventually out of the anus more easily. Some of the foods with the highest soluble fiber content include the following:
For those of you who are not yet aware of black beans, they contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps relieve constipation. A single cup of these dark beans provides 40 to 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance when it comes to soluble fiber.
In addition to keeping, you full for longer, these tasty legumes can add bulk to your stools and soften them at the same time, eliminating the need to strain to defecate.
To include more legumes in your diet, try adding them to soups, mixing them to make healthy sauces, including them in salads, or adding them to ground beef dishes for added volume and flavor.
2. Brussels sprouts
Whether you hate them or love them, Brussels sprouts offer a variety of health benefits, including better digestive health, when consumed regularly. This particular vegetable, which belongs to the Gemmifera group of cabbages, provides 4 grams of soluble fiber per cup, which contributes greatly to intestinal health.
On the other hand, Brussels sprouts contain vitamins B and K, not to mention short-chain fatty acids. Collectively, these vitamins and nutrients support and protect the lining of the intestine, which can prevent constipation. They can also help relieve constipation.
Derived from the fruit of avocado trees, which are abundant in south-central Mexico, avocados are a venerable powerhouse when it comes to vitamins and nutrients that support the gut and overall health.
Just half an avocado provides 2.1 grams of soluble fiber that can relieve constipation. And they are very versatile, since they can be eaten alone, added to salads or made guacamole.
4. Sweet potatoes
Consuming sweet potatoes can help relieve constipation and strengthen intestinal health, as they have 1.8 grams of soluble base fiber per half cup, along with a considerable amount of potassium, beta-carotene and vitamin B.
On the other hand, consuming a single medium-sized sweet potato provides up to 400 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, which protects against gastroenteritis, a condition that causes vomiting and constipation.
Like legumes, apples contain the soluble fiber pectin that improves bowel function and intestinal health, which can reduce your chance of constipation.
Strawberries are very beneficial when it comes to relieving constipation. Because they are 92 percent water, they help keep the entire body, including the intestines, hydrated, which contributes to regular bowel movements.
Eating just three apricots will provide you with 1.4 grams of soluble fiber. In addition, they are a good source of vitamins A and C that do not hurt to add to your diet as they contribute to good general health.
Guava, which is extremely popular in most of South America, is another fruit that naturally contains a great deal of water and can help keep the body hydrated while promoting regular bowel movements.
As such, they go a long way in alleviating and even preventing constipation. Based on a 100-gram serving, guavas contain approximately 8 grams of water.
If you already suffer from constipation or are trying to avoid constipation, you should consider substituting eggs for a bowl of delicious oatmeal for breakfast. After all, eggs are rich in protein.
While the protein in eggs helps build large, lean muscles and supports bone health, consuming too much of them, like any other protein source, can cause constipation.
That said, oatmeal contains a good amount of beta-glucan, a soluble base fiber that not only relieves constipation but also helps lower high cholesterol.
10. Flax seeds
While flaxseeds by themselves aren't particularly satiating, you can add some to a bowl of oatmeal or sprinkle them over a delicious salad to fight hunger and relieve constipation at the same time.
A single tablespoon of flax seeds provides 0.6 to 1.2 grams of soluble base fiber. And when consumed regularly, these little seeds have the ability to soften hardened stools, which are synonymous with constipation.
11. Sunflower seeds
Despite their small size, sunflower seeds have great power when it comes to relieving constipation. In fact, just one cup of these seeds contains 1 gram of soluble fiber and 3 grams of dietary fiber, both of which can improve bowel function and keep constipation at bay.
Hazelnuts are another great snack option in terms of foods that contain soluble fiber that can ease constipation. In addition, they can also lower high cholesterol and improve heart health, as they are rich in vitamin E, unsaturated fat, iron, and thiamine.
According to many studies, the same vitamin A in carrots that supports eye health can also improve digestive health. Just one cup of cooked carrots provides up to 2.4 grams of soluble fiber that can relieve and prevent constipation.
If you are dealing with constipation and you love figs, you are in luck. These edible flowers, commonly used to make cookies or eaten on their own, can slow digestion. Therefore, this sweet treat allows the absorption of food in the intestines. And this means that you will be less likely to feel constipated.
If you're already constipated or want to avoid constipation, it's a good idea to consider having a hearty stew made with barley after your breakfast oatmeal.
For those of you who don't know, this whole grain is packed with a variety of soluble based fiber, including pectin, psyllium, and guar gum. And they all help relieve and even prevent constipation while protecting against cardiovascular disease.
Your cells use glucose, a kind of sugar, for energy. The hormone insulin helps get the glucose from digested food into your cells. People with fatty liver disease often have a condition called insulin resistance. That means your body makes insulin but can’t use it well. Glucose builds up in your blood, and your liver turns it into fat. Certain fats in your diet can help your body use insulin better. That means your cells can take in glucose and your liver doesn't need to make and store fat.