Foods that Eliminate Constipation

By Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC

Develop easy to use nutritional strategies to help prevent and eliminate constipation. Constipation is the most common gastro-intestinal complaint in the United States. An estimated four million Americans suffer from frequent constipation.

Common sources of constipation include lack of exercise, lack of dietary fiber, dehydration, overuse of laxatives, medications, ignoring the need to have a bowel movement, age, travel, pregnancy and poor diet.

Constipation refers to infrequent bowel movements. Regularity of bowel movements depends on the person. An individual is typically considered to be constipated when bowel movements occur fewer than three times a week and result in only the passage of small amounts of hard, dry stool.

Symptoms of constipation may include difficult and painful bowel movements, bloated feeling, uncomfortable sensation, sluggishness and abdominal pain. Constipation can be a precursor to other health issues including lower back pain, fatigue, hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse and fecal impaction.

Constipation occurs when the colon absorbs too much water.  Generally as food moves through the colon, the colon absorbs water while forming the stool. Involuntary muscle contractions push the stool toward the rectum. By the time the stool reaches the rectum, most of the water has been absorbed and the stool is solid. When the muscle contractions are too slow and/or too much water is absorbed constipation results.

Avoid this annoying and painful condition with healthy nutritional strategies. Eat smarter and exercise to prevent and manage constipation. Perform a minimum of twenty minutes of cardiovascular exercise three to four times a week. This strengthens the heart, lungs, musculo-skeletal system and increases thirst. The extra water consumed due to the increased thirst helps prevent constipation.

Nutritional Strategies: Ingest more fruits and vegetables, chew your foods thoroughly, increase your intake of dietary fiber, drink more water and up the amount of healthy juices you drink to help combat constipation.

Hydration: Dehydration is a major source of constipation. Consume eight to ten glasses of water daily. Don’t let yourself get thirsty. Drink your water throughout the day. If necessary, carry a water bottle with you. In warmer temperatures increase your water intake. An easy step to drinking more water is to have a cup of water upon rising in the morning. This simple practice starts your day in a healthy manner.

Juices: Drink more fruit and vegetable juice. Fruit and vegetable juices contain large amounts of water, high levels of dietary fiber and health promoting vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Choose juices with the lowest amount of artificial sugar. The best juices to add in elimination are prune, pear, apricot, apple and orange juice. Drinking a serving of one of these healthy juices each day will increase your regularity.

Fruit: Fruit is a key ingredient to eliminating constipation. Prunes, dates, figs, raisins, papaya, bananas, apricots, peaches, pears, pineapples, mangos, unpeeled apples, oranges, nectarines, kiwi, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are fruits that aid elimination. Consume five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily for optimum health. Include one of the fruits that assist elimination in your daily fruit consumption.

Vegetables: Eating vegetables is a vital component to preventing and managing constipation. Brussels sprouts, beets, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, green beans, green peas, acorn squash, buttermilk squash, artichoke hearts, kale, potatoes with their skin, avocado and asparagus are vegetables which assist elimination. Consume one of these health promoting vegetables every day to increase regularity.

Fiber: Dietary fiber is essential in the prevention and elimination of constipation. Fiber is a carbohydrate that is often referred to as roughage or bulk. Digestive enzymes in the human stomach and small intestine are unable to breakdown dietary fiber. Therefore, fiber passes through the digestive tract quickly and promotes elimination.

Two types of fiber exist, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water while insoluble does not. Soluble fiber absorbs water to form a gel-like substance that softens stools. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and supplies bulk to stools. Both forms are found in all plant based foods.

Dietary fiber is available in numerous tasty and nutritious foods.  All of the above mentioned fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber. Quality sources of dietary fiber are present in a plethora of grains, seeds, nuts and beans.

Whole grain sources of fiber include barley, brown rice, millet, oats, wheat germ, wheat bran, whole wheat pasta, pumpernickel bread, rye bread, wholegrain bread and whole wheat bread.

Nut and seed sources of fiber are raw almonds, dry roasted peanuts, walnuts, flaxseeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Cooked beans such as black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans and white beans are sources of dietary fiber.

Flaxseed: Flaxseed is an easy to add ingredient that helps eliminates constipation. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber. Only a small amount is needed. Start by sprinkling half a teaspoon of flaxseed into a smoothie, in your yogurt or on your cereal.

Chewing: Chew your food thoroughly for proper digestion and elimination. Digestion begins in the mouth. Proper digestion and elimination requires the breakdown and assimilation of food. Chewing of the food breaks it down in smaller pieces, thus making the gut’s efforts much easier.

Digestive enzymes and saliva are released when we smell and taste food. These digestive enzymes not only aid in digestion but also protect the gut. An important step in regular elimination and a healthy digestive system is the chewing and breaking down of food before it reaches the stomach.

Consume a variety of these healthy foods to combat constipation. Develop your nutritional strategies to supply yourself an array of foods that contain dietary fiber and improve your regularity. Defeat constipation with sound nutritional strategies that work for you.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC

Dr. Donald A Ozello DC is the owner and treating doctor at Championship Chiropractic located at 2595 S. Cimarron Rd, Suite #100, Las Vegas, NV 89117.  His web address is www.ChampionshipChiropractic.com and he can be contacted at (702) 286-9040 and  DrO@ChampionshipChiropractic.com .

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC writes a weekly health, fitness, exercise and nutrition column for The Las Vegas Informer. His is also published in OnFitness magazine, LiveStrong.com, SpineUniverse.com, MyHealthZine.com and EHow.com.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC is an award-winning public speaker. He has spoken to various groups on health, fitness, exercise and nutrition topics. His mission is to educate and inspire others to live healthier, fitter, more functional lives.

Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC loves to exercise. Bike riding and kettlebell training are his current favorite forms of exercises. He credits “The Godfather of Fitness” Mr. Jack LaLanne as an early influence on his life.

Before pursuing his career in Chiropractic, Dr. Donald A. Ozello DC served in the United States Navy aboard the USS Bremerton, SSN 698.

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