Constipation is an unpleasant digestive condition that makes having a bowel movement difficult. This occurs most often when you have not been drinking enough fluids, eating enough fiber or exercising, among other lifestyle factors. While eating some foods can contribute to constipation, others can help to relieve constipation when it occurs and prevent constipation in the future.
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Fruits, Vegetables and Beans
Foods that contain fiber are beneficial in stopping constipation. Fiber combines with your digested food, creating bulk to your stool, helping to make it easier to move through your intestines. Fiber sources such as lignins and cellulose are tough, fibrous portions of food, found in vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach and zucchini. Fruits that are high in fiber include raspberries, oranges, pears, apples and peaches. You also can consume dried fruits like prunes, apricots and figs to relieve constipation. Beans are another excellent source of fiber that can reduce constipation. Examples include navy, kidney and pinto beans.
Whole-grain foods are high-fiber foods that can reduce constipation symptoms. Examples include whole-grain cereals and oatmeal. Whole-wheat or seven-grain breads also contain fiber to reduce constipation. Brown rice is another good source of fiber.
In addition to the foods you eat, fluids are important to stopping constipation. By increasing your water intake, the fiber will absorb the fluids, helping the digested foods move more easily through your body. Clear soups and vegetable juices also can have a beneficial effect. Drinking more fluids also may help relieve the bloating that can sometimes accompany eating more fiber.
Foods to Avoid
Foods low in fiber that have been highly processed are more likely to contribute to constipation and should be avoided. Examples include pizza, cookies, cakes, ice cream, chips and most pre-packaged foods. By choosing fresh foods instead, you can reduce constipation symptoms. Cheeses and meats also do not contain fiber. If you eat primarily these foods, you may have trouble with constipation.
While fiber helps to reduce your constipation, eating too much at one time can contribute to bloating and gas in your stomach. When trying to relieve constipation, add fiber a little at a time to your diet. Incorporate one extra serving -- such as a piece of fruit or serving of vegetables -- per day until you have relieved your constipation.