42 Million. That’s the number of Americans dealing with a chronic issue no one wants to talk about: constipation.
We’ve all dealt with it from time to time – however, that doesn’t mean it’s something you should ignore or “just live with.” Moreover, constipation can lead to even more problems down the road – things like bloating, severe abdominal cramping, and vomiting.
So how do you avoid constipation?
You probably already know the first step: Drink more water. Above all, proper hydration is the key to healthy digestion, so make sure you’re getting your 8 glasses per day, especially if you’re struggling to stay regular.
Nonetheless, diet is almost as important. In fact, the foods you eat play a HUGE role in keeping you regular. However, I’m not talking about things like fiber powder and prunes. Conversely, I’m talking about delicious foods you can find in any well-stocked grocery store.
Try These 5 Foods
Due to its unique blend of protein, healthy fat, tons of prebiotic fiber, and potassium, coconut is a digestive-health superfood. .1
Tip: Unfortunately, a lot of coconut meat products are loaded with added sugar. Because of this, it is important to get unsweetened coconut because too much sugar can make constipation worse, not better.
Blackberries are one of the highest fiber fruits out there. For this reason, they are great for digestion.2 Additionally, they’re also high in sorbitol, a natural laxative found in certain fruits.3 And blackberries aren’t just for dessert — they’re delicious on savory salads, and if you eat meat, they’re a good complement to pork.
Spinach is loaded with magnesium. In fact, spinach has more magnesium per serving than most other leafy greens.5 Additionally, magnesium is a tried-and-true remedy for constipation because it draws water into your intestines to help move things along.5
However, if you’re not a big fan of greens, try blending spinach into a smoothie. It’s got a muted flavor that’s easily hidden by fruits.
Also, you can try blending all 5 ingredients on this list to make a delicious smoothie. Just use 1 cup coconut water, ½ cup blackberries, 1 ripe, peeled orange, 1 kiwi, and 2 cups spinach.
Kiwi is great for digestive regularity because of its unique balance of 2 kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. As a result, it’s able to help feed the probiotics in your system (which in turn aid digestive regularity) while helping your digestive system move things along. Additionally, kiwis are high in vitamin C, another natural laxative.6
While you’ve probably had kiwi as a snack by itself, you probably didn’t know it is also great in salsa. All you have to do is chop it into small cubes and toss with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice, and sea salt — it’s delicious anywhere you’d eat conventional salsa.
Similar to kiwi, oranges are high in Vitamin C. However, there’s one thing that makes them even more powerful: a compound called naringenin. It’s an antioxidant that helps strengthen the intestine, so you’re better able to process food.7
For a refreshing, tropical treat, try blending 2 whole oranges (peeled, to avoid bitterness) with 1 cup of vanilla yogurt. Freeze in popsicle molds, and you’ve got a healthy twist on the classic creamsicle — perfect for summer! I suggest working 1-2 of these foods into your diet every day, along with your 8 glasses of water.
It’s the perfect way to nourish your body, to keep you feeling vibrant, comfortable, and regular.
P.S. Not a huge water fan? Try making your own flavored water with sliced fruits and vegetables. Some of my favorite combinations are cucumber mint, strawberry lemon, and orange cinnamon.
1. Deb Mandal M, Mandal S. Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): In health promotion and disease prevention. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine. 2011;4(3):241-247. doi:10.1016/s1995-7645(11)60078-3.
2. Lee J. Sorbitol, Rubus fruit, and misconception. Food Chemistry. 2015;166:616-622. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.06.073.
3. Peters R, Lock R. Laxative Effect of Sorbitol. BMJ. 1958;2(5097):677-678. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.5097.677.
4. Kikunaga S, Ishii H, Takahashi M. The Bioavailability of Magnesium in Spinach and the Effect of Oxalic Acid on Magnesium Utilization Examined in Diets of Magnesium-Deficient Rats. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. 1995;41(6):671-685. doi:10.3177/jnsv.41.671.
5. Fleming V, Wade W. A review of laxative therapies for treatment of chronic constipation in older adults. The American Journal of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy. 2010;8(6):514-550. doi:10.1016/s1543-5946(10)80003-0.
6. Rush E, Patel M, Plank L, Ferguson L. Kiwifruit promotes laxation in the elderly. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2002;11(2):164-168. doi:10.1046/j.1440-6047.2002.00287.x.
7. Erlund I. Review of the flavonoids quercetin, hesperetin, and naringenin. Dietary sources, bioactivities, bioavailability, and epidemiology. Nutrition Research. 2004;24(10):851-874. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2004.07.005.