Chronic constipation is infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools that persists for several weeks or longer, according to Mayo Clinic.
Constipation is generally described as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. According to the US NIH, 14 percent of people suffer from chronic constipation. The symptoms are different for different people.
There are various foods that add bulk, softening the stool, increasing the frequency, reducing the gut transit time and preventing constipation at times.
One medium-sized apple contains 4.8 grams of fibre which is 19 percent of the daily required fiber intake. It is rich in soluble fiber called pectin which gets converted into short chain fatty acids and transfers water into the colon, softening the stool and reducing the gut transit time.
According to the US NIH, they help reduce the symptoms of constipation, accelerate movement of stool and promote healthy bacteria in the gut.
A medium-sized pear contains 5.5 grams of fiber which is 22 percent of the required daily intake. It is rich in fructose and sorbitol. These components are not well absorbed by the body and pull more water in the colon, making the bowel movement faster.
One kiwi is equivalent to 9% percent of the required daily intake and it is rich in fiber as well as the enzyme actinidin. According to PubMed Central, consumption of kiwis can be linked to increase in the frequency of bowel movement, looser stools, faster colon transits which eases down the symptoms of constipation.
According to FoodData Central, raw figs contain 1.5 grams of fiber and dried figs contain 7.9 grams of fiber which is equivalent to 32 percent of the RDI.
According to PubMed Central, fig paste can be effective in reducing the colon transit, increasing stool weight and alleviating discomfort in the stomach.
According to FoodData Central, one orange is equivalent to 15 percent of RDI and one mandarin is equivalent to 20 percent.
Citrus fruits are not only a rich source of fiber but also contain an enzyme called pectin which reduces the colon transit time and prevents constipation. The best way to get maximum fiber and vitamin C benefits is to eat these fruits raw and fresh.
Spinach is a great source of folates, Vitamin C and K. They help in increasing the bulk or weight of the stool which makes it easier for them to pass through the gut.
It can be added in soups, stews, salads, curries, etc.
Sweet potatoes help alleviate constipation, they contain soluble fiber like pectin and insoluble fiber like lignin and cellulose. Insoluble fibers add bulk or weight to stools, reduces straining, discomfort and other symptoms of constipation.
Lentils, Beans and Peas
According to FoodData Central, one cup of beans contains 19.1 grams of fiber which is 76 perent of RDI and half a cup lentils is equivalent to 32 percent of RDI.
These pulses are the cheapest and high-fibre foods that contain both soluble and insoluble fibers which help add bulk and make the passage easy.
Chia seeds are the richest source of fiber and contain 85 percent of soluble and 15 percent of insoluble fiber. When chia seeds mix with water, it forms a gel which reduces the gut and intestine transit time. They can absorb 12 times more water than their weight, which helps soften the stool and add bulk to it.
You can add chia seeds to your oats, cereal, smoothie, etc.
According to the US NIH, flax seeds have been used as a cure for constipation since ages due to its laxative effects. They are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber which aids digestion. They can help increase the absorption of water, adding bulk, softening of stool and promoting good bacteria in the gut.