Foods to Aid with Constipation

Constipation is a common gastrointestinal issue that millions of Americans frequently experience. When the stool is drier and harder than normal, it can be difficult to have a bowel movement. When someone is unable to pass a bowel movement at least three times a week, then that is considered constipation according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Constipation is harmless in most cases, but if this problem persists for more than three weeks, then a visit to a doctor may be necessary.

What people put in their bodies has a lot to do with preventing constipation. Unfortunately, the usual American diet is full of processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat. Conversely they are low in fiber and fluids. This diet is tailor-made to give people constipation. Medications and neurological disorders can also cause constipation. A few simple dietary changes can relieve constipation symptoms and prevent this prevalent gastrointestinal problem from occurring.

The Causes and Symptoms of Constipation

Having a poor diet is often cited as the reason why people have constipation, but there are many factors that can contribute to the development of this problem. The factors the increase chances of becoming constipated include:

  • Not eating enough foods that are high in fiber
  • Not drinking enough liquids
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Not maintaining a healthy weight

These factors can easily be changed with little to no medical help. Other causes of constipation require some medical assistance. These include:

  • Medications. Several types cause constipation.
  • The early stages of pregnancy
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and Parkinson’s disease

Everybody has different bowel habits, and they experience constipation differently. Typical constipation symptoms include difficulty in passing stools and fewer bowel movements than usual. Other symptoms include:

  • A loss of appetite
  • Feeling sick or bloated
  • A stomach ache or cramps
  • Dry, hard, and lumpy stool
  • Stool that is unusually large or small

It is important for people to see a doctor when they start experiencing constipation symptoms like rectal bleeding, weight loss or fatigue.

Treatment Options

There are many treatment options available to people with constipation. These solutions will vary based on the severity of constipation. Fortunately, constipation can be remedied by making some lifestyle and dietary changes. Dietary changes that can provide constipation relief include:

  • Eating more whole grain foods
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables
  • Eating more nuts and seeds
  • Eating more beans and legumes

Most adults do not get enough fiber while eating the typical American diet. The recommended daily fiber intake, according to the American Heart Association, for women under 50 is 21 to 25 grams per day and for men under 50 is 30 to 38 grams per day. Fiber helps people have regular bowel movements and helps food to easily pass through the digestive system. Fiber intake should be increased gradually to avoid discomforting bloating, cramping and excessive flatulence. If dietary changes are not enough, then laxatives may help. Laxatives can be purchased over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor. There are different types of laxatives, so people should consult with a doctor to see which one is right for them.

There are many home remedies that people will often try to help alleviate their constipation. Changing a diet is the first thing many will do, but there is more as well. In addition to the food, liquids make a bit difference. This includes drinking more water and for people who like it, more caffeinated coffee. There’s also prune juice as well!

Medical Disclaimer: The information presented on are for general informational purposes only, the writer may not necessarily have medical or scientific training. This information is not reviewed by a physician. Some of these articles may contain information about treatments or the use of a pharmaceutical product that has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment. Results on any service or treatment may vary from person-to-person.

This article should not be considered as medical advice. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional advice from a certified doctor or other qualified healthcare provider. Always speak with a doctor before starting, stopping, or changing any prescribed care or treatment plan. provides this reading material as a helpful resource, but it should never be a substitute for professional medical advice, care, diagnosis or treatment from a medical physician, a certified personal trainer, a therapist, a dietitian, or a nutritionist. If in a medical emergency, call a doctor or dial 911 immediately.