Experts agree that when it comes to avoiding constipation, food is a key factor. The right diet is the best, safest, and most long-lasting of all remedies.
High fiber foods – what they do and why they help
Foods that are high in fiber are an essential part of everyone’s diet, but they’re particularly important for people who suffer from constipation. Fiber promotes colon health and is essential to the efficiency of the digestive system.
There are two types of dietary fiber and we need them both. Insoluble fiber, which is found in foods such as whole grains, fruits (including skins), and dark green leafy vegetables, provides bulk in the intestine and helps waste products move through the colon more efficiently. If the material moves through the colon quickly less water is absorbed and the stool is softer and easier to expel. Soluble fiber, found in foods such as prunes, nuts, oats/oat bran, and dried beans, forms a gel-like substance in the intestines and helps waste products move through.
The good news is, high fiber foods are readily available everywhere, and many are best eaten raw. Here’s a list of some of the highest fiber foods:
Beans – most varieties are great sources of dietary fiber. Black beans have more than half the daily requirement of fiber in a one-cup serving, while kidney and lima beans have over 13 grams a serving.
Bran – bran cereal can have up to 19 grams of fiber per one cup serving, but read the nutrition information carefully before you buy. The fiber content of bran cereals varies widely.
Lentils – an excellent source of fiber, with almost 16 grams per serving
Oats – if you start your day with a single cup serving of rolled oat cereal, you’ll get 12 grams of fiber.
Brown rice – a one cup serving has 8 grams of fiber
Fruits – Just about all fruits have significant dietary fiber, and will deliver the most if eaten raw with skin on. Some of the best are raspberries (more than 8 grams in a cup), grapefruit (over six grams in one half grapefruit), and apples (about five grams each).
Whole wheat – making the switch to whole wheat bread and pasta can significantly boost your fiber intake.
It’s also important to include lots of non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic fluids in the diet. Drinking more liquids helps keep stool soft and moving efficiently through the colon.