Constipation can make you feel sluggish, weighed down, and cranky. Most people only experience it from time to time, but it can become chronic for others. It’s also more likely to happen as you age.
Wondering whether you’re constipated? The red flags include fewer than three bowel movements a week and hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass.
When you’re constipated, a good first step is making changes to your diet. What you eat can have a major impact on how smoothly your digestive system runs — especially how much fiber you get. Fiber is a carbohydrate that naturally helps keep you regular, but most adults only get about half the amount they need every day.
Women should get 22-25 grams of fiber a day, and men 28-31, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. You don’t need to count every gram. Instead, seek out foods that are high in fiber and swap them in for lower-fiber foods.
These 10 foods are all rich in fiber (plus other nutrients that are good for health), so try to add them to your meals and snacks:
- Pears: They’re one of the highest-fiber fruits, with 6 grams per medium pear. Keep the peel on for maximum fiber.
- Oats: All varieties (whether old-fashioned, instant or steel-cut) are whole grain and rich in fiber. There are 4 grams of fiber in each cup of cooked oatmeal. If you put fresh or frozen fruit on top of your bowl, you’ll get even more.
- Potatoes: French fries aside, potatoes are nutritious, packing a surprising amount of vitamin C plus 3 grams of fiber per medium spud. You have to eat the skin to get it all.
- Flaxseed and chia seeds: Sprinkle these seeds into oatmeal, smoothies, and even baked goods for an easy way to nab a few bonus grams of fiber.
- Beans: Switch out at least one meat-heavy meal per week for a meal with beans. They have a lot of protein, iron, and fiber in them. About 6 grams of fiber are in a half-cup of cooked kidney beans.
- Popcorn: When you’re hankering for a crunchy snack, this is a perfect choice. It comes from whole grains and has 1 gram of fiber per cup.
- Lentils: A half-cup of cooked green lentils has as much protein as 2 ounces of beef and 9 grams of fiber.
- Check the labels to find cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. You can start with plain shredded wheat and bran cereals. For more fiber, add a handful of blueberries or a sliced banana.
- Apples: Keep the skin on because the flesh and the skin both have fiber. A medium-sized apple has 4 grams of fiber and a lot of water to keep you hydrated.
- Edamame: These nutty, satisfying soybeans come out of their pods and have 4 grams of fiber per half-cup.
What can you do else?
When you start eating more fiber, you’ll also want to do the following:
- Take in a lot of water: If you don’t drink enough water, it won’t help to eat foods with a lot of fiber. They make it easier to go to the bathroom.
- Go slow. If you eat these fiber-rich foods all at once, you might get gas and bloat.
- Move around. Being active helps your body digest. Just taking a short walk around the block every day can help your body work better.
Food isn’t always the answer
Sometimes, changing your diet may not be enough to fix constipation. So, if things don’t get better, talk to your doctor. You may need other treatments, like medicine. And always tell the doctor if you have abdominal pain or blood in your stool.
Also, read Health Benefits Of Almonds.