With the holidays quickly approaching, we are all staring down a time of festivities and crazy schedules. The holidays also frequently lead to a departure from our usual healthy eating habits. One of the unintended consequences of this change in diet is a disruption in our daily bathroom routine. Research suggests that it is best to poop once a day but that a normal range is 3 x’s a day to once every three days. Pooping less than once every three days is defined as constipation. Constipation can be painful and uncomfortable. Common causes include inadequate fiber or fluid intake, being out of your routine, overuse of caffeine or alcohol, traveling, certain medications, chronic laxative abuse, mental health concerns, certain foods, and various diseases.
Consuming lots of fiber from nuts, whole grains, and fruit, and getting enough exercise, and drinking enough fluids can lessen the chances of getting backed up. Since fiber isn’t digested, it retains water as it passes through your gut. This water softens your stool, helping to relieve constipation. Some of the best foods to fight constipation include:
Berries: Berries like strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, are all excellent low-calorie sources of fiber. We need between 25-38 grams of fiber per day depending on your age or sex to keep things moving.
Beans: Cup for cup, beans and lentils provide twice as much fiber as most vegetables. Add beans to soups, stews, salads and dips for a fiber boost.
Prunes: Prunes are great because they are not only high in fiber, they also contain sorbitol, which is a natural laxative. Other dried fruit can also have a laxative effect but don’t overdo it because dried fruit is high in sugar.
Broccoli: Broccoli is an amazing source of fiber. It’s also low in calories and a great source of vitamins k and b vitamins . Eat your broccoli raw, because cooking it can reduce its fiber content.
Pears and apples: This time of year, pears and apples are good choices due to their high fiber content. Since most of their fiber is found in their skins be sure to eat your fruit unpeeled. They also contain high amounts of pectin, a naturally occurring fiber. Either an unpeeled small pear or a medium apple with skin each contain 4.4 g of fiber.
Photo from flickr.