Doctors Share Their Best Advice to Beat Constipation

If you’ve been feeling a little secure lately, you are not alone. Actually, constipation leads to approximately 8 million doctor visits per year.

Although the causes of constipation vary from person to person, it is typically the result of food moving slowly through the digestive tract. Whether you experience constipation every now and then or if it is a chronic condition, there are many effective treatments available.

Many people will use laxatives as a first line of defense. And while there are many effective over-the-counter products out there, they can have negative (and often chaotic) side effects. The good news? There are many different foods that can act as natural laxatives.

What are the possible reasons for constipation?

Too little exercise and too little fiber are two of the main reasons Dr. Julie Miller Jones, PhD, LN, CNS. In fact, less than 7% of the US population has their fiber needs, and many eat less than half the amount of fiber they need – found in cereals, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.

Other causes include travel, irregular schedules, stress, allergies, celiac disease, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and strokes, adds Dr. Jones added.

Dehydration is another possible reason. “The colon is designed to reabsorb water from stool, so hydration is really important.” Bryan Curtin, MD, MHSc, Director of Neurogastroenterology and Motility. “The more you move, the more your stomach moves, so exercise helps too.”

If you suffer from chronic constipation, you should consult your doctor.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Keto Constipation

Natural laxatives

The next time you’re backed up, consider trying these natural laxatives as your first line of defense:


“Dried plums (prunes) have both types of fiber and contain sorbitol, which has a natural, laxative effect,” says Dr. Sabine Hazan, MD, Creator of ProgenaBiome and author of Let’s Talk Sh! T.

In one to learn, 40 subjects with constipation found that 50 grams of prunes twice a day with meals was as effective as flea seeds in relieving constipation. That’s about 10-12 prunes a day in total. “My advice is to start with fewer prunes and slowly increase until you get the results you want,” says Dr. Hazan. “A word of caution: never start your plum journey less than 24 hours before a transatlantic flight or a long hike.”

Related: Do Plums Really Help You Lose Weight? That’s what science says

hot water

It sounds simple, but sometimes drinking more water throughout the day is enough to get things going. hot water promotes healthy, normal contractions of the gastrointestinal tract, which ensure a smooth process, Dr. Uma Naidoo, MD, Nutritional psychiatrist, professional chef, nutrition specialist, and author of the best-selling book This is Your Brain on Food, explained.

Olive oil / flaxseed oil

The health benefits of cooking with olive oil are well known, and it turns out that relieving constipation is one of them. “Even adding a small amount of oil in the diet (as little as a teaspoon or so!) can soften the stool and relieve symptoms of constipation, ”says Dr. Naidoo. “As a nutritional psychologist, I also encourage including healthy fats high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as olive oil, in your daily meals so that your brain will thank you too!


Avocados are high in fiber, healthy fats, and other nutrients. “Diet food rich in fiber Not only does it relieve constipation, it keeps the entire GI tract healthy, which in turn contributes to a healthier body, brain and mood! ”Dr. Naidoo explains.


Oatmeal is another great high fiber food to add to your list.

“Oats are high in insoluble and soluble fiber and their gel-like texture, when added to water, acts as a lubricant to move the contents smoothly through your intestines, “says Dr. Naidoo.

Greek yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods

All of these foods are good for your gut health. “They are rich in live active cultures, supports the gut microbiome and even the enteric nervous system and relieves constipation symptoms, ”says Dr. Naidoo.

Caffeine products

Morning coffee drinkers know that this drink usually does the job. “This includes coffee and black tea, which stimulate the large intestine to contract and at the same time act as diuretics that draw water out of the body, Promote bowel movement also in this way, ”explains Dr. Naidoo.

Related: How Much Caffeine is Too Much? We asked experts

Moisturizing and high fiber fruits and vegetables

Apples, cucumber, watermelon, and grapes help hydrate and have thick bowel movements easy to pass, says Dr. Naidoo.


Dates are high in fiber. “Dietary fiber stores water, builds up the stool and makes it more regular,” explains Dr. Curtin.

Beans, legumes and lentils

All three are high in fiber and aid digestive health. Including these in your daily meals can help prevent constipation and keep your brain happy too, says Dr. Naidoo.

How to prevent constipation and keep your digestive system healthy

One of the best ways to deal with constipation is to avoid doing a backup in the first place. Dr. Naidoo gives her top tips:

Incorporate more prebiotics into your meals

The inclusion of prebiotics (e.g. onions, leeks, garlic, oats, bananas) and fermented foods (kimchi, miso, kefir, sauerkraut) in the daily diet promotes general intestinal health.

Get 25-30 grams of fiber every day

Dietary fiber supports healthy movement in the intestines. “It is important to know that people with indigestion may not tolerate fiber well, and if this could be a problem it is best to consult your doctor to work on the best solution,” explains Dr. Naidoo.

Eat more leafy vegetables

Leafy vegetables are among the densest sources of fiber and also contain folic acid – an important B vitamin for your brain health.

drink lots of water

Water is the fuel for almost all chemical reactions in the body, so an adequate supply of water supports the natural functions of our intestines while moisturizing and making your stool soft.

Avoid foods that cause constipation

For some, this could be cheese, other types of dairy products, foods very high in protein, processed carbohydrates, and so on. Certain wheat products, especially those containing gluten, can cause constipation in many.

Check the side effects of the medications you are taking

Some medications, such as opiate pain relievers, can cause constipation as a side effect due to the way they work. If these medications are needed, taking medications like senna herbal tea can help.


Daily walks or jogging can also stimulate healthy, physiological contractions of the gastrointestinal tract to move content along and out.

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Listen to your body

Dr. Naidoo recommends that individuals develop a sense of body intelligence because different foods affect us all differently.

“Including in the diet a number of these different foods, all of which have been suggested to aid digestion, and understanding how the digestive system reacts is key to understanding which foods prevent or induce constipation in each individual” says Dr. Naidoo. “By understanding our body in this way, we are able to make conscious decisions at every meal in order to support these natural body functions.”

Next, read the following if constipation is a legitimate emergency.


  • JAMA: Constipation: Advances in Diagnosis and Treatment “
  • Julie Miller Jones, PhD, LN, CNS
  • Bryan Curtin, MD, MHSc, Director of Neurogastroenterology and Motility
  • Dr. Sabine Hazan, Creator of ProgenaBiome and author of Let’s Sh! T. talk
  • Dr. Uma Naidoo, Nutrition psychiatrist, professional cook, nutrition specialist and author of the bestseller, This is your brain when you eat
  • Food pharmacology and therapeutics: “Randomized clinical study: Dried plums (plums) vs. flea seeds in constipation”
  • Gastroenterological nursing: “The effect of warm water intake on bowel movements in the early postoperative stage of patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy: a randomized controlled trial “
  • Journal of Kidney Nutrition: “The short-term effects of olive oil and flaxseed oil for treating constipation in hemodialysis patients “
  • Nutrients: “Whole Fruits and Fruit Fibers That Affect Health”
  • Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: “Salvia Columbariae contains tanshinones”
  • Advances in nutrition: “Mechanisms of action of probiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota on intestinal motility and constipation “

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