Constipation is a medical term for difficulty in passing bowel movements.
It is a common condition that everyone experiences in their lives at some point or the other. Symptoms include the passage of bowel movements less than three times a week.
These symptoms can appear when your body does not have enough fiber and water.
Generally, women aged between 31 to 50 should consume 25 grams of fiber per day, while men of the same age should have around 38 grams.
Another cause of constipation might be the lack of water which prevents the smooth movement of food through the digestive system.
Not to miss, there are some foods to avoid when constipated. Not consuming these foods might also help your body to recover.
Some foods such as berries, prunes, potatoes, apples, etc., along with adequate water, might relieve constipation and its symptoms.
Top 10 Foods To Prevent Constipation
Getting enough fiber is linked to digestion. This article suggests that dietary fibers play a key role in maintaining healthy gut microbes which aid in proper digestion.
According to this study, around 14 percent of people suffer from chronic constipation. Let’s take a look at those foods that could help in addressing the problem of constipation.
When it comes to constipation, apples can be your best friend to avoid it. Apples are extremely nutritious. Apart from iron, they are rich in fiber contents.
It is advised to consume apples along with the skin as it adds to the nutritional value of the fruit.
200 grams of apple, along with the skin, contains 4.8 grams of fiber which is necessary for proper digestion.
The majority of the fiber contents in apples are insoluble but it also contains some soluble fibers such as pectin, as per this article, which is a form of dietary fiber.
The study reveals that pectin is capable of pulling water into the colon which in turn would decrease gut transit time and smoothen bowel movement.
Citrus fruits, apart from containing vitamin C are another good source of fiber.
Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and mandarins are a healthy and refreshing addition to your diet.
USDA Nutrient Database suggests that around 154 grams of oranges comprise 3.7 grams of fiber.
The same source also shows that around 308 grams of raw grapefruits have up to 5 grams of fiber.
Like apples, the peels of citrus fruits contain soluble fiber pectin which eases the movement of food into the intestine and prevents constipation.
The study shows that citrus fruits also contain a flavanol called naringenin which might aid in relieving constipation by inducing laxative effects.
Experts advise them to be eaten as whole fruits rather than juice as juicing removes most of the fiber contents present in the fruit.
Prunes, also known as dried plums are nutritious and are often used as a natural remedy for constipation.
Data shows that 40 grams of prunes contain around 3 grams of fibers.
Cellulose, which is an insoluble fiber present in prunes, helps to increase water in the stool which adds bulk.
Also, the soluble fiber present in prunes aids in preventing constipation. The soluble fibers are also added to the bulk.
Prunes also contain a compound called sorbitol which is not readily absorbed by the body and enables water to be pulled inside the colon.
This may provide a laxative effect in some people as per this study.
Prunes also contain phenolic compounds which promote the growth of good gut bacteria.
They can easily become a healthy addition to your diet in the form of salad, along with oats and smoothies.
Broccoli is packed with nutrients and is low in calories. Broccoli is not only a rich source of fiber but of protein and folate as well.
It contains a compound known as sulforaphane which not only protects the gut line and smoothens the digestion process but may also help in cancer prevention.
Sulforaphane may also prevent the overgrowth of some intestinal microorganisms which interfere with digestion.
A research survey was conducted in 2017, in which people were asked to eat either 20 grams of broccoli or 20 grams of alfalfa sprouts found that those who ate broccoli had fewer symptoms of constipation.
Broccoli can easily be eaten as a side dish or a snack. It is advised to eat it as raw or steamed as cooking it might not provide you with all of its benefits.
Pears are an excellent choice when it comes to preventing constipation.
They are rich in fiber, as medium-sized pear contains around 5.5 grams of fiber.
Apart from fiber, pears also contain sorbitol and fructose.
Fructose might be poorly absorbed in some people which means that a part of it adds to the contents in the colon, where it helps to pull water thus, promoting a smooth bowel movement.
A nutritional review of pears states that pears also contain vitamin c and potassium and are a good source of antioxidants.
Similarly, sorbitol is another compound that is not absorbed readily by the body.
It brings water into the intestine and acts as a natural laxative agent. Pears can be eaten raw as a whole or along with salads.
Sweet potatoes are a tasty and healthy addition to your diet. They are a great source of fiber which helps in reducing constipation.
Additionally, 150 grams or one normal-sized sweet potato holds  around 3.6 grams of fibers.
Research suggests that sweet potatoes have insoluble fibers like cellulose and lignin that could add bulk to the stool and may prevent constipation.
Green vegetables have a lot of vitamins. They may prove beneficial to prevent constipation.
Vegetables like spinach and Brussels sprouts contain a lot of fiber in them. These vegetables add bulk to the stool which makes bowel movement easier.
The data shows that 180 grams of fresh and cooked spinach comprise 4.7 grams of fibers.
Brussels sprouts are also a great option as just 5 sprouts fulfill 14 percent of your daily fiber needs.
They can be eaten as salads, cooked or you may add them to stews and soups.
Seeds such as chia seeds and flaxseeds are one of the best additions to your diet to prevent constipation.
Flaxseeds have been used as a natural remedy for constipation for a long time. As per this article, flaxseeds provide natural laxative effects.
They contain both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers which promote easy movement of the food through the gut.
The study has shown that the insoluble fiber acts as a sponge that retains water while the soluble fibers promote the growth of good bacteria thus, improving the overall digestion.
Chia seeds are extremely dense in their fiber content. Data shows that 28 grams of chia seeds contain 9.8 grams of fiber.
Another research shows that chia seeds, upon coming in contact with water, form a gel which in turn may smoothen movements in the gut.
Both chia seeds and flaxseeds can be easily included in the diet and may prove beneficial in preventing constipation.
Artichokes might also relieve constipation. Artichokes have a prebiotic effect that promotes gut health and smooth digestion.
This prebiotic effect enables the growth of good bacteria in the gut, improving overall digestion.
Another study suggests that the artichokes induced the growth of good bacteria like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli bacteria inside the gut.
Artichokes may significantly reduce constipation by promoting the growth of good bacteria and easing the movement of food inside the gut.
Kiwi provides multiple benefits. Around 75 grams of kiwi retain about 2.3 grams of fibers.
The research established that consuming kiwi extract supplements may be beneficial for those suffering from constipation and may increase stool frequency in healthy adults.
It increased the total number of bowel movements and enabled a faster colonic transit time.
Kiwis can be eaten raw or may be added to your salad.
Constipation can easily be prevented by including foods rich in dietary fibers in your daily routine.
The above-mentioned foods are some of the best foods which you can add to your diet for healthy digestion.
Some other foods which you can consume to prevent constipation include oat brans, nuts, berries, peas, lentils, whole grain bread, figs, kefir, and rhubarb.
Remember to consult your health expert before you add or deduct anything from your diet. This may help in preventing any mishappenings.
Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.
- Fiber. Available from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/
- Christopher J Black , Alexander C Ford. Chronic idiopathic constipation in adults: epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis and clinical management . Med J Aust. 2018 Jul 16;209(2):86-91. doi: 10.5694/mja18.00241. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29996755/
- Apple, raw. Available from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1102644/nutrients
- Athanasios Koutsos, Kieran M. Tuohy, and Julie A. Lovegrove1. Apples and Cardiovascular Health—Is the Gut Microbiota a Core Consideration? Nutrients. 2015 Jun; 7(6): 3959–3998. Published online 2015 May 26. doi: 10.3390/nu7063959
- Agnieszka Wikiera , Marta Irla , Magdalena Mika. [Health-promoting properties of pectin]. Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2014 Jan 2;68:590-6. doi: 10.5604/17322693.1102342. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24864109/
- Orange, raw. Available from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1102597/nutrients
- Grapefruit, raw. Available from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1102591/nutrients
- Jianqiao Yin , Yichao Liang , Dalu Wang , et al. Naringenin induces laxative effects by upregulating the expression levels of c-Kit and SCF, as well as those of aquaporin 3 in mice with loperamide-induced constipation. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29207043/
- Prune, dried. Available from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1102639/nutrients
- E Lever, J Cole, S M Scott, P W Emery, K Whelan. Systematic review: the effect of prunes on gastrointestinal function. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Oct;40(7):750-8.doi: 10.1111/apt.12913. Epub 2014 Aug 11. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25109788/
- D. B. Nandini, Roopa S. Rao, B. S. Deepak, et al. Sulforaphane in broccoli: The green chemoprevention!! Role in cancer prevention and therapy. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol. 2020 May-Aug; 24(2): 405. Published online 2020 Sep 9. doi: 10.4103/jomfp.JOMFP_126_19
- Akinori Yanaka1. Daily intake of broccoli sprouts normalizes bowel habits in human healthy subjects. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2018 Jan; 62(1): 75–82. Published online 2017 Nov 3. doi: 10.3164/jcbn.17-42
- Pears, raw. Available from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169118/nutrients
- Holly Reiland and Joanne Slavin. Systematic Review of Pears and Health. Nutr Today. 2015 Nov; 50(6): 301–305. Published online 2015 Nov 23. doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000112
- Sweet potato, NFS. Available from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103233/nutrients
- Aelia Akbar; Aparna P. Shreenath. High Fiber Diet. Last Update: May 8, 2022. Available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559033/
- Spinach, fresh, cooked, no added fat. Available from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103137/nutrients
- Brussels sprouts, raw. Available from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170383/nutrients
- Priyanka Kajla, Alka Sharma, corresponding author, and Dev Raj Sood. Flaxseed—a potential functional food source. J Food Sci Technol. 2015 Apr; 52(4): 1857–1871. Published online 2014 Feb 28. doi: 10.1007/s13197-014-1293-y
- Jiqu Xu, Xiaoqi Zhou, Chang Chen, et al. Laxative effects of partially defatted flaxseed meal on normal and experimental constipated mice. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012; 12: 14. Published online 2012 Mar 9. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-14
- Seeds, chia seeds, dried. Available from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170554/nutrients
- Bartosz Kulczyński, Joanna Kobus-Cisowska, Maciej Taczanowski, et al. The Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds—Current State of Knowledge. Nutrients. 2019 Jun; 11(6): 1242. Published online 2019 May 31. doi: 10.3390/nu11061242
- Adele Costabile , Sofia Kolida, Annett Klinder, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study to establish the bifidogenic effect of a very-long-chain inulin extracted from globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) in healthy human subjects. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20591206/
- Kiwi fruit, raw. Available from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1102667/nutrients
- Juliet Ansell , Christine A Butts , Gunaranjan Paturi, et al. Kiwifruit-derived supplements increase stool frequency in healthy adults: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Clinical Trial Nutr Res. 2015 May;35(5):401-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2015.04.005. Epub 2015 Apr 11. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25931419/
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Alisha Matthew has been a practicing nutritionist since 2016. She holds a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of IOWA. She is a staunch believer in improving the human health index by educating people about nutrition and the importance of nutrition in leading a healthy and happy life. Her long-term goal is to keep educating people on general health and keep herself updated with the latest trends in the field of health.