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What to Eat When Constipated? 10 Foods to Improve Your Gut Health

What to Eat When Constipated? 10 Foods to Improve Your Gut Health

There’s nothing worse than being constipated! Unfortunately, this frustrating condition is quite common in adults and children alike.

Constipation can strike out of the blue – but it’s often for very simple reasons. Diet is a major cause, particularly when you haven’t been eating enough fiber or drinking enough water.[1]

Other causes include a disruption to your normal bowel routine, such as not going to the bathroom often enough. This sort of disruption can occur with traveling or even being in a sedentary desk job. Lack of activity can have a major impact on your bowel regularity.

Certain medications can also upset your bowel movements, especially opioids, anti-inflammatories, antacids, and antihistamines.

Constipation can also be caused by gut imbalances. Candida overgrowth or SIBO can trigger a variety of digestive symptoms including constipation.[2]

If you find that you’re getting constipated frequently, don’t keep reaching for the laxatives. Think about what’s caused your bowel to slow down, and what you can do to prevent it from happening again.

The most important thing you can do is eat the right foods and watch out for your gut health! Here’s our pick of what to eat when constipated.

1. Pure Water

For some reason, the most obvious cause of constipation is also the last to be considered: hydration!

When you don’t drink enough water, your body quickly becomes dehydrated. This means any waste in your intestines will become slow and ‘stuck’ because your body can’t add enough moisture to your stools. If this is the case, your stools will be small, hard, dry and lumpy.[3]

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Try to drink at least 2 liters of clean, filtered water daily. The easiest way to do this is by carrying a drink bottle with you everywhere, so you can sip it regularly. This will help to move food and waste through your body and keep everything flowing naturally.

After all, you wouldn’t try to clean a drain without turning on the tap!

2. Fermented Dairy Products

Yogurt and kefir are two types of fermented dairy products that can be invaluable to a constipated gut. They both contain probiotics, which are a type of ‘friendly’ bacteria that helps to break down food that you eat.

Probiotics have been shown to improve digestion and elimination by supporting a healthy gastrointestinal environment and maintaining bowel regularity.

Numerous studies have shown that adding probiotics to your diet can help to reduce constipation. One study found that when patients with chronic constipation drank an unflavored probiotic yogurt every day for two weeks, their bowel transit time was significantly shortened. This specific yogurt contained Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis.[4]

3. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are tiny black and white seeds from the plant, Salvia hispanica L. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

The great thing about chia seeds is that they form a lubricating gel-like consistency when they absorb water. This gel can help to improve stool formation, keeping them moist and making them easier to pass. The omega-3 fatty acids are also renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties, which is highly beneficial to an irritated gut.

As well as their amazing lubrication effects, chia seeds are packed with soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is the type that most people find much gentler on the gut, and it’s should be top of your list of what to eat when constipated. It’s easy to add chia seeds to cereals, baked goods, smoothies and yogurt for a fiber-rich snack or meal.

4. Legumes

When you’re wondering what to eat when constipated, your best bet is fiber-rich foods. Lentils, beans and chickpeas are great for preventing and treating constipation.

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Fiber is an important macronutrient that should be included in your daily diet in order to keep your bowels healthy. It works by adding bulk to your stools, which causes waste to press against your intestines and stimulate peristalsis – the wave-like movements that push waste along to be excreted.

Research has shown that just 100 grams of cooked beans or other pulses provides around 26 percent of your recommended daily intake of fiber.[5] What’s more, these foods are packed with plenty of other nutrients such as potassium, folate, zinc, and vitamin B6, which also help support the health of your gut.

5. Broth

Broths have been a dietary staple for centuries – and for good reason. The rich mineral content of bones and other ingredients makes a broth highly nutritious and easily absorbed by the gut.

Most importantly, bone broth provides a good dose of moisture to an inflamed or dehydrated gut. This can help to soften any hard stools in your intestines and make them easier to eliminate. You’ll also be supporting your nutritional intake if your appetite has diminished, which can happen during bouts of constipation.

It’s easy to make your own bone broth from chicken bones, beef bones or other animal carcasses. Bone broth is particularly beneficial for an irritated gut because it’s rich in gelatin, which can soothe the lining and help repair damaged cells. The warmth of bone broth makes it very easy to digest and very appetizing!

6. Prune Juice and Prunes

Prunes have long been hailed as the king of ‘keeping you regular’! These dried fruits are absolutely packed with fiber, that important macronutrient that keeps waste moving through your gut.

Prunes also contain a type of sugar called sorbitol. Because sorbitol can’t be broken down by your body, it passes through your colon undigested and draws water into your gut. This helps to bulk up your stool and stimulate a bowel movement.

Studies show that sorbitol is a safe and effective remedy for constipation, and it’s often a favorite with older adults.[6] Prunes can increase the frequency of your bowel movements and improve consistency.

If you really have no idea of what to eat when constipated, a handful of prunes could be the easiest remedy in the book. Take care not to overdo the prunes though, as they can also cause some gas and bloating!

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7. Bran

Eating bran for breakfast is often associated with older folk – and it’s probably the first thing you’ll be told to eat when constipated!

Bran is a fantastic source of insoluble fiber, also known as ‘roughage’. Bran helps to push stools along the intestinal passage, allowing for better regularity.

Bran is not a grain itself, but actually the tough outer layers of the grain. It’s an integral part of whole grains, and is often eaten as a cereal.

One study showed that eating wheat bran for breakfast each day for two weeks reduced the incidence of constipation in women who previously lacked a fiber-rich diet.[7] The bran also helped to improve their bowel regularity.

If you don’t like the taste of bran, you can try adding it to smoothies or yogurt. It also adds delicious texture to baked goods.

8. Broccoli

Eating your greens was never so important as when your bowels need some stimulation. Broccoli is a good source of fiber, like other foods mentioned above. But it also contains a valuable nutrient called sulforaphane, which can help to protect the gut and improve digestion.

Research suggests that sulforaphane may even help to ward off ‘unfriendly’ gut bacteria that can upset normal digestion. One study showed that when participants ate 20g of raw broccoli sprouts every day for 4 weeks, they had fewer symptoms of constipation than those who ate alfalfa sprouts. The broccoli also seemed to improve their bowel transit time and the quality of their bowel motions.[8]

9. Green Kiwi

Also known as kiwifruit and Chinese gooseberry, the kiwi is a very helpful remedy for a sluggish bowel. One medium-sized kiwi contains around 2.5 grams of fiber, along with a variety of nutrients.

The most important benefit of kiwis for constipation is due to a protease enzyme called actinidine. Actinidine has been found to stimulate motility in the upper gastrointestinal tract, which helps to push waste along the intestines.

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Another valuable nutrient in green kiwi is a peptide called kissiper, which promotes healthy digestion and peristalsis. One study showed that when adults with constipation ate just two kiwis a day, their bowel movements increased in regularity.[9]

Kiwi is also a rich source of natural phytochemicals that can support the health of the gut. Because it’s technically a berry, you can even eat the hairy outer peel for extra roughage!

10. Pears

Like prunes and kiwi, pears are an excellent source of fiber. This fiber is known as pectin, and it’s contained in the peel of the fruit. To get the most benefit from pectin, you really have to eat the pear raw and with the skin on.

Pears also contain a number of compounds that aid digestion, such as sorbitol and fructose. Their high water content is also helpful in hydrating a sluggish bowel, providing extra moisture for hard stools.

A great way to eat pears is to add them to Bircher muesli. Simply grate the pears and add to oats, seeds and other fruit, then cover with water and refrigerate. The fiber-rich goodness and flavor of the pears will soak into the muesli overnight, creating a delicious breakfast!

So here they are, 10 everyday foods that can improve your digestion and fix your constipation.

More About Gut Health

Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Lisa Richards

Nutritionist, Creator of The Candida Diet, Owner of TheCandidaDiet.com

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Last Updated on August 10, 2020

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

The importance of effective goal setting cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success. This is why there are countless articles out there on how to set your own SMART goals and even why it’s a skill commonly taught to a small degree in classrooms.

Learning the importance of goal setting and the benefits of sticking to those goals can be the defining factor determining whether we truly embrace the importance of goal setting. The more willing we are to embrace this method, the more likely we become to reach our personal definitions of personal and professional success.

Thus, today’s article is going to walk you through some of the benefits you’ll see from learning to set goals for yourself and answer the question, “why is goal setting important?”

1. Goals Guide and Align Our Focus

It’s hard to get to where you want to be in life if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Some people believe avoiding goals means living a more care-free life. How many times have you heard the phrase “If I have no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed”?

But is that really what our lives have come to? Living just to avoid disappointment? It doesn’t seem like an overly optimistic view in my opinion. And since you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you agree with me.

Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.

Without goals, we will pointlessly waste our time, energy, and efforts. Listen to anybody who is the top of their field and they’ll tell you something like this,

“Yes talent is important, but often your success depends much more on what you decide to do with that talent.”

And what you will do with your talent largely depends on your focus.

Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for. This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward.

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So, why is goal setting important? Because it gives you direction, alignment, and purpose!

2. Goals Help You Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

Basically, shiny object syndrome is always being in pursuit of the next big thing, constantly switching your goals based on what you feel is most fun and interesting at the given moment, but never actually giving yourself time to accomplish any of those goals.

You don’t get anywhere because you continually change the direction you are heading in. This is one of the consequences that may result if you decide to live a life without goals.

Your goals can sometimes help you to create mental barriers, or blinders, that help you to remain focused on what you think is important and avoid the things that are second priority. When you outline goals for yourself, you are better able to avoid things that distract you from achieving and accomplishing those goals.

Setting goals helps you to step around the other shiny objects because you’ve taken the time to make some mental notes that remind you what it is that you want from your life. Your goals act as subconscious deterrents to anything less than your main priorities. This is what helps you to reach your personal definition of success.

So, why is goal setting important? Because not only do goals tell you what you want from life, but they also help you realize what you need to give up and avoid to achieve that.

3. Goals Turn Our Largest Goals into Manageable Steps

A lot of us have big hopes and dreams. It’s one of the things that make our lives exciting!

But a lot of us never take the time to figure out how we can effectively get from point A to point B. So, sadly, we never fully achieve those goals. We look at our dreams and convince ourselves that only a select few people ever achieve them, so we write ourselves off as people not meant to reach that level of success. Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating, daunting, and discourage us from even pursuing them.

Thankfully, goal setting helps us break large intimidating goals into smaller ones. These small steps and more achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal. The form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families, and may even for our communities depending on how big your goals are!

Whenever I get talking about this aspect of goal setting, I can’t help but think about the mountain climbing analogy, and that the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step by step.

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So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting gives you a list of manageable steps that you can take in order to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to go both effectively and efficiently.

4. Goals Encourage You to Take Action

This builds on the last benefit of goal setting. Not only does effective goal setting help you break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, but it also encourages you to actually begin taking action on those goals. After all, a plan is completely worthless if you aren’t willing to invest the effort required to execute it.

Setting your goals and putting your plan in place motivates you to begin taking action towards achieving them. These goals give you something to plan and work towards. Essentially, they help propel you forward.

What I like to do is write out and place my goals somewhere that I’ll regularly see them. This constantly serves as a reminder of my top priorities. It allows me to focus on taking small progressive actions towards achieving these goals daily.

This ensures that I don’t fall into the trap of setting a goal, beginning to work towards it for a while, but then having my motivation fade resulting in me falling off track. This is exactly what many people see happen when it comes to their “New Year’s Resolutions.”

If you want to learn about how to take action towards achieving your goal, here’s how: How To Take Action Towards Your Goals Right Now

So, why is goal setting important? Because goal setting actually motivates you to stop thinking about your goals and actually get out there and achieve them!

5. Goal Setting Helps You Continually Improve

This is something that a lot of personal development and self-improvement writers talk about, continual improvement. For those of you who are not aware of the term, continual improvement is exactly what it sounds like — taking small steps towards improvement as frequently as you can to develop into the person you want to become.

What’s the point in improving a little bit each day if you’re not improving in the areas that you want to improve in after all?

The goals that you define for yourself will inevitably shape you into the person who you want to become. They’ll shape your character. Your goals can help you measure your progress as you strive for this type of development.

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Essentially, having goals helps you determine where you started, where you are now, and how much further you need to go. In this manner, your goal setting can serve as milestones and benchmarks that help you determine how well you’re progressing towards your most important goals!

So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting helps you make improvements each day that will slowly transition you into the person you want to become.

6. Goal Setting Keeps You Accountable

Not only does setting goals help you measure your progress, but it also is a means through which you can keep yourself accountable. Too many goals fail because they lack this crucial aspect of outlining accountability.

For example, if I have the goal to do 50 push-ups, that’s great. Most people would support that goal. However, this goal lacks accountability. When do I want to accomplish this goal by and what steps do I take to get there? These are important questions that the original goal leaves unanswered.

A much more descriptive and specific goal could be to do 50 push-ups within the next 3 months by starting at 5 push-ups, and then adding 5 each week. This goal outlines the deadline as well as the steps I’m going to take to achieve it. This plan will keep me accountable because if I fail to retain my progression schedule, I will know that I’m not going to achieve the goal on time.

Additionally, it can serve as a marker helping to signify when something is impeding my progress that I may not have initially accounted for. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and figure out what adjustments I can make to facilitate my success.

So, why is goal setting important? Setting goals is key to keeping ourselves accountable and on-track towards accomplishing our goals according to the schedules and deadlines we set for ourselves.

7. Goals Make You Feel Good

Trust me, the progress you feel as you set and achieve goals can become super motivating and super addicting (in a good way)! The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!

Having some clearly defined goals will help you to feel better about yourself and your life in general, especially when you stick to those goals, actively work towards achieving them, and end up accomplishing and surpassing your initial expectations. I’m not the oldest book on the shelf myself, but I can attest that there are not many feelings quite like the one you experience when you truly get on a roll!

Additionally, our goals give us an endpoint to shoot for. Rather than progress for progress’s sake, you can actually see where you’re heading! That’s so much more rewarding. Think about a long car trip as a kid. You ask “if you’re there yet?” ever 20 minutes. It seems like the drive drags on forever.

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If you don’t know where you’re going, you risk the journey becoming tedious. It doesn’t tend to be much fun wandering around aimlessly. Goals make us feel good about where we’re directing ourselves.

So, why is goal setting important? Because setting goals and accomplishing them plain and simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lives!

8. Goals Help You Live Your Best Life

I’ve talked a lot in this article about how goal setting helps us progress towards our top priorities and live the way we truly want to live. So I think it’s fit to end the article with this goal because, in the end, I feel it’s the most important one.

Setting your goals and clearly defining what they mean to you will help you live a life that is tailored to your beliefs and values. Your life will become directed towards the things that you most want to achieve.

Life is a tricky game and only in very rare circumstances are things handed to us on a silver platter. Often it takes a great degree of work, planning, and effortful execution of both.

There is no point clinging on to things in your life if they don’t bring you happiness or help you accomplish something that, in some way, aligns with your goals.

Simply put, setting goals helps us live a life that allows us to pursue the challenges and rewards that we truly want to achieve.

So, why is goal setting important? Because our time is always limited, and setting clearly defined goals can help ensure that you make the most of your life and live to the fullest! Find out more here: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the benefits of goal setting that outline why it truly is so important. If you take a moment or two, I bet that you can even think of a few more benefits yourself that you could add to this list.

If I could leave you with something, it would be this:

Goal setting has the potential to take us to some amazing places in life because we all have talent and ambitions. To achieve your biggest dreams, you need to be willing to sit down and create a life design uniquely tailored to you that will help you achieve them!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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