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Constipation: Relieving It the Healthy Way


Constipation: Relieving It the Healthy Way

Eat 20-30 grams (g) of fiber/day. Spread high-fiber foods throughout your day.

Consume more water. Fluid needs vary depend on your weight and medical condition, but most people should drink more water, which is a calorie-free liquid. Other liquids count toward your total fluid intake, but they may contain unneeded sugar and calories.

High-fiber cereal
Start your morning with a bowl of high-fiber cereal. Also drink at least 8 fluid ounces of water. When shopping, look for cereals that have at least 8 g fiber/serving.

Buy some ground flax. It is a great way to add both soluble and insoluble fiber into your diet. Add it to smoothies, yogurt, salads, and baked goods.

Talk to your doctor about taking a magnesium supplement, which may help to ease constipation. It relaxes the muscles in the intestine to provide a smoother rhythm and helps attract water to soften the stool to make it easier to pass. Always ask your physician before using any new dietary supplement.

Processed foods
Try to limit processed foods and grains, such as bread, pasta, cookies, pastries, etc, and anything that is not whole grain.

Food groups and your digestive health

Increase your intake of green vegetables:

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • String beans

Try cooked, stewed, or plain/raw fruits:

  • Apricots
  • Figs
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Prunes

Include beans in your diet. They are a great source of lean protein and fiber:

  • Garbanzo (chickpeas)
  • Kidney
  • Navy
  • Pinto

Whole grains
Make sure to get your three servings of whole grains each day. Whole-grain products must have the word “whole” as the very first word in the ingredient list, such as whole-wheat flour.

Consider these choices:

  • Bagels
  • Barley
  • Bread
  • Brown rice
  • English muffins
  • Pasta
  • Pita
  • Tortillas

Healthy fats
Incorporate health fats into your diet. Fried foods, junk foods, and fast food have high amounts of unhealthy or saturated fat, which could contribute to constipation. Healthy fats help your food “glide” through the intestines.

Try these healthy fats:

  • Avocados
  • Canola oil
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Olives
  • Vegetable oil

Get three servings of dairy each day. However, some people might find milk, cheese, and other dairy products constipating. It is important to listen to your body. If you choose to decrease your dairy consumption, consult your physician to see if you could benefit from a calcium supplement.

References and recommended readings
Beckstrand RL, Pickens JS. Beneficial effects of magnesium supplementation. Journal of
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011;16(3):181-189.

Mayo Clinic staff. Water: how much should you drink every day? Mayo Clinic Web site. Accessed April 3, 2014.

MedlinePlus. Constipation. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health Web site. Accessed April 3, 2014.

Contributed by Andrea Termotto, RD, CDN
Updated by staff

Review Date 4/14


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