Feeling a little backed up? Constipation is a major problem for many people but fortunately, a problem that can easily be resolved with a little work on your side. By changing the foods you eat and a few other lifestyle factors, you can easily get things moving again.
Some of the most common reasons that you might wind up constipated in the first place include:
· Overusing antacid medications, especially those that contain calcium
· Abrupt changes to your diet or activity level
· Consuming too many dairy products
· Suffering from IBS
· Lack of physical activity
· Not consuming sufficient dietary fiber in your diet
· Being pregnant
· Taking medications such as antidepressants or other pain killer drugs
· Using prescription strength iron supplements
· Being under high levels of stress
· Suffering from hypothyroidism
As you can see, quite a few factors can bring you to the brink of not being able to go. When you’re backed up, it’s often the only thing on your mind. You’d do just about anything to find relief.
Fortunately, there is a long list of things that you can do that will encourage your bowels to get moving again. Topping that list are a few dietary changes. By including some high fiber foods in your menu, you can help remedy the situation.
When most people think of high fiber foods, they tend to think of the usual standbys: beans, broccoli, berries, and bran.
While these are all great sources, they are far from the only sources that you should be considering adding to your meal plan.
Let’s take a closer look at seven lesser known sources of dietary fiber that you may want to consider bringing into your menu today.
1. Avocado: Not Your Everyday Fruit
The avocado is a very underrated fruit that must not be overlooked. It’s not like any other fruit out there because it is actually a primary dietary fat source, which is completely the opposite of most fruits. Most fruits are fat free, but that just isn’t the case with avocados. When looking at the stats for the avocado, we see:
Total Fat: 29.5 grams
Saturated Fat: 4.3 grams
Total Carbs: 17.1 grams
Dietary Fiber: 13.5 grams
Sugars: 1.3 grams
Protein: 4 grams
So as you can see, it has quite a distinct nutritional profile. It’s exceptionally low in sugar content and provides a great dose of heart-healthy fats.
In addition to giving you the dietary fiber to keep you more regular, avocados are also going to provide an excellent dose of vitamin E, which will help promote healthier skin, hair, nails, and serve to act as an antioxidant in the body as well.
On top of that, they are also associated with improvements in cardiovascular health as well. This is thanks to their high dose of monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, as well as the phytosterols they contain.
Avocados also have great anti-inflammatory benefits as well, so this may help to reduce your risk of other health conditions such as arthritis. Try slicing an avocado up and adding it to your salad then enjoy.
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2. Chia Seeds: Not Just For The Birds
Next up on the list of great foods to eat to help with constipation and improve your health are chia seeds. Again, these seeds are often left out of the mix as people tend to go for the more popular flaxseeds or else simply bypass seeds altogether and choose nuts as their source of healthy fat.
But, do not discount chia seeds. With a strong nutritional profile and a lot to offer, they too should be a mainstay in your diet plan.
Here are the stats for chia seeds.
Per One Ounce of Seeds:
Total Fat: 8.7 grams
Saturated Fat: 0.9 grams
Total Carbs: 12.4 grams
Dietary Fiber: 10.7 grams
Sugars: 0 grams
Protein: 4.4 grams
You can see the strong fatty acid profile in these seeds. With only 0.9 grams of saturated fat, it’s a very wise option if heart health is a concern for you.
Flax seeds also have an excellent distribution of omega-3 fatty acids compared to omega-6 fatty acids. You’ll get almost 4 times as many omega-3’s as you will omega-6’s, so this is critical as keeping your ratio in check with more omega-3’s is critical for optimal health.
Chia seeds contain 37% total dietary fiber content, so as you can see, they are a dietary fiber winner for sure. The fiber found in chia seeds will actually expand in the gut upon eating, so this will help fill you up and curb hunger very easily. This in turn may assist with weight loss and appetite control. Research published in the Nutricion Hospitalaria noted that those eating chia seeds for a period of 12 weeks were able to promote significant but discrete reduction in weight and waist circumference.
To top things off, chia seeds also work as a prebiotic in the gut and can support the growth of healthy probiotics, which you need to sustain proper immune system health. If you are already supplementing with a high quality probiotic such as P3-OM, think of this like the icing on the cake that will really help you go that extra mile.
Finally, take note that research published by the British Journal of Nutrition has noted that chia seeds may also help to combat weight gain, high cholesterol levels, as well as insulin resistance so this could be a key secret to combating diabetes as well. This is very important news for anyone who wants to try and keep their overall health in check.
3. Sauerkraut: A Natural Probiotic
If you are looking for a low calorie side dish, why not consider sauerkraut? Many people turn their noses up at the mere mention of this food, but it’s actually one of the healthiest foods you could be adding to your meal plan.
Sauerkraut is a rich source of natural probiotics, so it will help to strengthen your internal gut environment, improving the natural digestion processes that take place and lower your risk of constipation in the first place.
In addition to that, these healthy probiotics will also boost your immune system so you’re less likely to fall ill due to the common cold and flu virus.
What are the nutritional stats on sauerkraut? Let’s take a look.
Per 1 cup serving:
Total Fat: 0.3 grams
Saturated Fat: 0.1 grams
Total Carbs: 10.1 grams
Dietary Fiber: 5.9 grams
Sugars: 4.2 grams
Protein: 2.1 grams
Sauerkraut gets almost half the total amount of carbohydrates it contains from dietary fiber, making it a very powerful source for getting your needs met. Do keep in mind that if you choose to make your own sauerkraut, you may be able to reduce the total sugar content of this food even lower.
Because sauerkraut is made from cabbage, it’s also going to provide you with all the health boosting benefits that cabbage has to offer including being a solid source of antioxidants. Cabbage is one of the best cancer-fighting foods out there according to research published in the Nutrition and Cancer journal. So it is definitely one that you’ll want to get into your diet if you hope to combat this disease.
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4. Cacao: Bring On The Chocolate
Moving along, if you love a good dose of chocolate, you won’t want to miss out on including cacao in your meal plan. Note that cacao is different from cocoa, which most people will think about when reading this.
Cacao is the purest form of chocolate that you can consume, making it far less processed than regular chocolate and even cocoa powder. While dark cocoa powder is good, cacao is even better.
Cacao is thought to be far higher in antioxidants and is also a much stronger source of magnesium, so it is an all around healthier choice for the body. It’s available in many forms including cacao butter, which will be much higher in total fat content, cacao nibs, which are basically cacao beans that have been cut into small edible pieces, cacao paste, which is made from the nibs, along with cacao powder, which is what will offer you the most fiber overall. Because the beans are still intact in cacao powder compared to cocoa powder, this means you are getting a much stronger dose of fiber overall.
Let’s look at the nutritional stats for cacao:
Per 1 Ounce Serving
Total Fat: 2.5 grams
Saturated Fat: 1.5 grams
Total Carbs: 19 grams
Dietary Fiber: 7 grams
Protein: 5 grams
As you can see, a high portion of the calories from cacao will come from dietary fiber, which is what can help you relieve your symptoms of constipation.
The total level of antioxidants found in cacao is exceptionally strong, which can help to improve your heart health by reducing plaque build-up, help you block free radicals that can lead to unwanted health conditions including cancer, as well as help to lower PMS related symptoms in women. One study published in the BMJ journal noted that subjects who included dark chocolate in their diet on a regular basis had a lower incidence of heart disease, illustrating just how beneficial it may be to add cacao to your day.
Not sure how to use cacao powder? Try adding it to your morning smoothie for breakfast, use it to create your own healthy version of hot chocolate, or try using it in homemade protein or granola bars. You can pretty much use it in replacement for wherever you would normally use cocoa powder, so let your creativity run wild.
5. Brussels Sprouts: The New Side Dish
Another food that often gets noses turned up at it is Brussels Sprouts. They are a great option if you are looking to improve your health and reduce constipation.
This green vegetable is chalk full of fiber and other nutrients, making it a must-have for any well-balanced nutritious diet plan. Let’s take a closer peak at the nutritional stats for this food.
Per 1 cup boiled
Total Fat: 0.8 grams
Saturated Fat: 0.2 grams
Total Carbs: 11.1 grams
Dietary Fiber: 4.1 grams
Sugar: 2.7 grams
Protein: 4 grams
As you can see, this vegetable offers more fiber than sugar, which is definitely a sign that it’s a smart choice as far as a healthy diet plan goes. You’ll also get a very good dose of protein as well for a vegetable at four grams per serving.
What else does it have to offer?
First, they can seriously help bring down your cholesterol levels. The type of fiber in Brussels sprouts binds with bile acids in the digestive tract and can then help to move cholesterol out of the bloodstream. This leaves you with less built-up on your artery walls and a lower risk of heart attack.
Next, Brussels sprouts are rich in glucosinolate content, which is an important compound that has been shown to help provide cancer-protecting benefits. These are found in all cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts being one of them.
Brussels sprouts will also provide you with a powerful dose of vitamin C, giving you over 100% of your daily needs with a one cup serving. This will help to strengthen your immune system and help ward off the common cold and flu.
So next time you’re looking for a vegetable to serve alongside your meals, don’t overlook the benefits Brussels sprouts can bring. They may just help you find relief from your constipation as well.
6. Split Peas: Two Peas In A Pod
If you ask most people, they’d likely tell you that they’ve never had split peas before. But, this may just be one of the best sources of dietary fiber you could eat. Split peas are not only going offer a powerful dose of the fiber to keep your bowels moving as scheduled, but they’re also going to provide a good dose of protein as well.
For those struggling to get their needs met, split peas may just be the addition to your diet you’ve been looking for.
Here’s how they stack up nutritionally speaking.
Per 1 cup boiled
Total Fat: 0.8 grams
Saturated Fat: 0.1 grams
Total Carbs: 41.4 grams
Dietary Fiber: 16.3 grams
Sugar: 5.7 grams
Protein: 16.3 grams
This food has a very nice fiber to protein ratio and is virtually fat free, making them an excellent choice for anyone who is engaging in intense exercise in the near future. Eat them as a pre-workout meal a few hours before and you’ll be putting in top performance.
Their sugar content is also quite low, which will help keep your blood glucose levels in check and help to ward off weight gain as well.
Split peas are well known to help give your heart health a boost thanks to the strong dose of soluble fiber they provide. This fiber will help to reduce total cholesterol levels, again, lowering the plaque buildup that may occur.
They’re also great for stabilizing your blood sugar level, just as beans are, so they can be an excellent choice for warding off diabetes or managing diabetes if you already have it.
Thanks to the high dose of fiber and complex carbohydrates coupled with protein, split peas will also take care of your appetite, combating hunger and ensuring that you can stick to your meal plan without a problem.
Try using split peas in soup or use them in dips, veggie burgers, or even muffins if you are really creative. There are plenty of ways to get these into your daily diet.
7. Raspberries: The Ultimate Berry
Finally, there’s one fruit that does need to be included in this list – raspberries. When most people opt for berries, they tend to choose blueberries thanks to all the many health benefits these have been touted to have in the last few years.
While it’s true that blueberries are great for increasing brain health and combating age-related cognitive decline, as far as fiber goes, raspberries are your real all-star.
Not only are they rich in dietary fiber, but they also contain a very low dose of sugar, making them ideal for keeping blood glucose levels in check.
Here’s how they stack up nutrient wise:
Per 1 cup boiled
Total Fat: 0.8 grams
Saturated Fat: 0.1 grams
Total Carbs: 14.7 grams
Dietary Fiber: 8 grams
Sugar: 5.4 grams
Protein: 1.5 grams
With more fiber than sugar, few fruits can claim to offer this type of health benefits. Raspberries are great for combating constipation and will have you regular in a hurry.
In addition to that, raspberries are also loaded with antioxidants that will help to combat free radical damage and inflammation in the body. They’ve been shown to have great anti-cancer benefits thanks to their antioxidant profile as well as the phytonutrients they contain.
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Given that this berry is so sweet, it’s easy to eat on it’s own or add to other dishes already in your meal plan. Try adding them to salads, on top of a bowl of oatmeal, to low fat Greek yogurt, or into a marinade that you are preparing for your main protein source. The possibilities with this berry are endless.
So there you have seven lesser-known sources of fiber that you’ll want to include in your diet plan. Make sure that you aren’t relying on the common sources all the time. Variety is really key for optimal health as it’ll ensure you get an abundance of different nutrients into your diet..
Chicco, Adriana G., et al. “Dietary chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) rich in α-linolenic acid improves adiposity and normalises hypertriacylglycerolaemia and insulin resistance in dyslipaemic rats.” British Journal of Nutrition 101.1 (2008): 41-50.
Murillo, Genoveva, and Rajendra G. Mehta. “Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention.” Nutrition and cancer 41.1-2 (2001): 17-28.
Larsson, Susanna C., et al. “Chocolate consumption and risk of myocardial infarction: a prospective study and meta-analysis.” Heart (2016): heartjnl-2015.
Toscano, Luciana Tavares, et al. “Chia induces clinically discrete weight loss and improves lipid profile only in altered previous values.” Nutr Hosp 31.3 (2015): 1176-1182.