You’ve likely heard about the importance of fiber and hydration for maintaining regular bowel movements. And it’s spot on! However, some particular foods can also give you that extra push towards improved digestion.
Whether it’s due to hormonal shifts in pregnancy, medication side effects, or simply aging, constipation is a widespread concern.
Below are six foods to seamlessly blend into your meals or enjoy as snacks to foster better digestive regularity.
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The Power of Kiwi Skin
Not only is kiwi skin edible, but it’s also a rich source of fiber. By retaining the skin when using kiwis, you amplify the health benefits they offer.
Kiwis can accelerate the transit of stool through the digestive system. Sarah Anzlovar, a registered dietitian nutritionist, suggests that while fiber plays a role, the antioxidants in kiwis might also contribute to this effect.
Harness the combined strengths of kiwi’s antioxidants and its skin’s added fiber for smoother digestion. For a nutrient-packed treat, toss a whole washed kiwi into your smoothie blender. If you’re pressed for time, simply munch on a kiwi as you would an apple.
The Digestive Benefits of Beans
Beans pack a powerful punch of fiber and magnesium, both vital for facilitating healthy bowel movements, according to Anzlovar. Notably, beans offer both soluble and insoluble fibers. While soluble fiber moderates digestion for enhanced nutrient absorption, its insoluble counterpart boosts stool bulk, aiding in constipation prevention.
Furthermore, beans are rich in resistant starch. This particular starch bypasses digestion in the small intestine, reaching the colon where it undergoes fermentation by gut bacteria, transforming into short-chain fatty acids. These acids fortify the intestinal wall, thereby promoting digestive wellness.
Beans come in a diverse range, fit for standalone consumption or as tasty additions to various dishes. “Find your favorite bean and incorporate it into salads, grain bowls, tacos, or even pasta, ” suggests Anzlovar.
The Digestive Wonders of Chia Seeds
Packed with over 10% of your daily fiber requirement, chia seeds are a powerhouse for digestion, says registered dietitian Elizabeth Shaw, RDN.
“Fiber not only keeps you satiated for extended periods but also ensures your digestive tract operates optimally, ” Shaw explains.
Consuming chia seeds leads to the formation of a gel-like texture that softens stools, facilitating regular bowel movements.
Incorporating chia seeds into your meals is a breeze. Sprinkle them atop breakfast bowls, salads, or blend into smoothies. For those with a baking inclination, they can be a nutritious addition to muffins, bread, or pancakes.
Need a vegan substitute for eggs in a recipe? Combine a tablespoon of chia seeds with three tablespoons of water, wait for 15 minutes, and you’ll have a gel-like mixture ready to use. As chia seeds tend to swell when wet, it’s wise to be mindful of portion sizes.
The Power of Prunes in Digestive Health
Prunes are renowned for their digestive benefits, and for good reason: they’re rich in sorbitol, a compound known to promote bowel activity.
Research indicates that individuals with irregular bowel movements and minimal fiber intake experienced improved stool frequency and consistency after incorporating prunes into their diet.
These naturally sweet fruits can be consumed solo or blended into an array of dishes, enhancing both flavor and nutritional content. Think smoothies, salads, or baked treats.
For a baking twist, craft a prune purée by blending 16 pitted prunes with 1/2 cup of hot water until smooth. Once cooled, this purée can substitute for 1/3 to half the sugar in a recipe. For a healthier fat alternative, swap up to half the required butter or oil with an equivalent amount of prune purée.
The Mighty Benefits of Flax Seeds
Despite their diminutive size, flax seeds are fiber giants, boasting both soluble and insoluble types. Due to their dense fiber content, it’s crucial to pair them with ample water intake to avoid potential gastrointestinal unease.
Incorporating flax seeds into your meals is straightforward. Simply grind them and sprinkle over cereals, yogurts, or blend into smoothies for a nutritious addition.
The Nutritional Power of Apples
Apples, brimming with dietary fiber, especially pectin, are excellent for digestive health. This soluble fiber not only bulks up the stool but also facilitates its seamless movement through the digestive system.
When paired with water, pectin assumes a gelatinous consistency, aiding in softening the stool and countering constipation. To maximize fiber benefits, consume apples with their skin intact. Moreover, the high water content in apples promotes hydration and ensures pliable stools.
Beyond enjoying them as a standalone snack, apples can be a versatile addition to your meals. Start your day by mixing diced apples into oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothies. They also pair well in a crisp salad combined with greens, nuts, and a zesty dressing.
For a touch of sweetness in main courses, incorporate apple slices into dishes like pork roast or chicken.
- Constipation During Pregnancy
- Opioid-induced constipation in chronic pain: Experience with 180 patients
- Constipation and Fecal Incontinence in the Elderly
- Kiwifruit and Kiwifruit Extracts for Treatment of Constipation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
- The effect of prunes on stool output, gut transit time and gastrointestinal microbiota: A randomised controlled trial