Ben Schuff
February 12, 2024

Relieving and Preventing Constipation Through Nutrition

Struggling with constipation is a common concern, but the right nutrients and dietary choices can make a significant difference.

Key Nutrients for Alleviating Constipation

1. Dietary Fiber: Fiber is renowned for its role in preventing and relieving constipation. It adds bulk to the stool, facilitating easier passage, while also nourishing beneficial microbiota in our gut. There are two types of dietary fiber:

  • Soluble Fiber: Found in oats, legumes, fruits, and seeds, soluble fiber aids in proper gut contraction and stool movement.
  • Insoluble Fiber: Present in whole grains, vegetables, and seeds, insoluble fiber contributes to stool bulk and gut health.

2. Water: Adequate hydration is essential for softening the stool, making it easier to pass. Insufficient water intake can lead to hard, dry stools, exacerbating constipation.

3. Magnesium: This mineral relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract, promoting regular bowel movements. Foods high in magnesium include leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

4. Vitamin C: Found in citrus fruits, strawberries, and bell peppers, vitamin C helps soften the stool and promote bowel regularity.

5. Movement: While not a nutrient, physical activity supports healthy digestion by promoting the contraction of smooth muscle in the gut.

Top Vegetables for Preventing Constipation

  1. Broccoli and Cauliflower: These vegetables are rich in insoluble fiber, adding bulk to the stool and supporting gut health.
  2. Spinach and Kale: Green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of fiber, aiding in proper gut contraction and stool movement.
  3. Sweet Potato and Rutabaga: The skins of these root vegetables contain insoluble fiber, contributing to stool bulk and promoting bowel regularity.
  4. Cabbage: Cabbage is a valuable source of insoluble fiber, which supports overall gut health and regular bowel movements.

Understanding FODMAPs and Their Impact

FODMAPs, short-chain carbohydrates found in certain foods, can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms in some individuals, especially those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Avoiding FODMAPs can sometimes lead to constipation due to a reduction in dietary fiber intake, potentially impacting gut health and regular bowel movements.

By understanding the crucial role of nutrients like fiber, water, magnesium, and vitamin C, as well as the impact of FODMAPs on gut health, individuals can make informed dietary choices to alleviate and prevent constipation effectively.

Dr. Ben Schuff is the Director of Naturopathy & Nutrition at BIÂN. He is a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND), Illinois Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (LDN), a Certified Nutrition Specialist® (CNS) and a Licensed Acupuncturist. He earned his Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Biology from the University of Dayton, Ohio before completing his medical education at the National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) in Portland, Oregon. He has also been trained in a system of medicine called Endobiogeny.

Back to Blogs