Constipation occurs when the food you eat is digested slowly. As the bulk of food passes through your small intestine and into your large intestine, most of its nutrients have already been absorbed. The role of the large intestine is to extract excess water. When stool moves through your large intestines slowly, most of the water is taken out, leading to a hard, dry stool that is not easily passed by your colon. This is constipation. Adding fiber from fruits to your diet adds bulk and water to your feces, which may help with constipation.
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Types of Fiber
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Their names refer to their interaction with liquids. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and in doing so turns into gummy substance. Insoluble fiber does not mix with water and instead passes through your body relatively unchanged, making it of more use for constipation. Both types of fiber are not absorbed by your body, but still benefit the health of your digestive system. Several fruits contain both types of fiber.
Fiber and Constipation
Insoluble fiber may be the most benefit to easing constipation. Insoluble fiber, the kind of fiber that makes up the skin of may fruits, can aid in digestion. Insoluble fiber helps stimulate the muscles of the digestive system, making them stronger, which can help with constipation. Fiber also increases the weight, volume and pliability of your stools, which makes them easier to pass and reduces constipation. Most fruits are a good source of insoluble fiber.
High Fiber Fruits
Many fruits are high in fiber, especially those you eat with the skin on, such as pears and apples. The fruits richest in fiber include raspberries, pears, apples, strawberries, figs and raisins. Raspberries provide 8 grams of fiber per 1 cup. One medium pear has 5.5 grams and one medium apple provides 4.4 grams. A 1 1/4-cup serving of strawberries has 3.8 grams of fiber. Figs provide 1.6 grams in two medium fruits and raisins give you 1 gram in a 2 tablespoon serving.
Recommendations for fiber are aimed at keeping you healthy and preventing constipation. The recommended fiber intake for older children through adults is 20 to 35 grams per day, according to the National Institutes of Health, but the average American consumes less than half that amount. You can get fiber from vegetables and whole grains to reach this daily goal.
- Anatomy and Physiology; Kenneth S. Saladin
- Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies: Francis Sizer and Eleanor Whitney
- National Institutes of Health: MedlinePlus: Fiber