Which snacks are best to eat when constipated?
Constipation is a common problem that has many possible causes, one being a diet which is low in fibre and high in sugary, fatty foods. Snacks such as crisps and chocolate bars may be handy to grab whilst on-the-go, but these foods can often worsen constipation. There are numerous healthy snacks, however, which can help get things moving, including:
Read on to find out a bit more about how these foods can help constipation, and get some tips on how to incorporate them into your diet.
Yoghurt can be a healthy addition to the diet, with many varieties providing a rich source of protein, calcium and vitamins, such as vitamin B12. Yoghurt can help protect the health of our bones and teeth, as well as aiding digestive problems such as constipation.
Many dairy products (and non-dairy alternatives), including yoghurt, contain microorganisms called prebiotics and probiotics. These microorganisms are live bacteria, and may help to relieve constipation.
One study found that consuming 180 ml of yoghurt, which contained the prebiotic Litesse polydextrose and the probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis, each morning for 2 weeks, shortened the length of time it took for waste to move through the bowels in people with chronic constipation.1
Another study, which reviewed the effect of probiotics on stool output and constipation symptoms, found that they increased the frequency of bowel movements by 1.3 times, and also helped to soften stools, making them easier to pass.2
Although there is not enough evidence to recommend a specific probiotic for constipation, the research above suggested that Bifidobacterium lactis may be most effective in relieving constipation symptoms. Therefore, if you're looking for a yoghurt to improve bowel function, perhaps choose one that includes this probiotic.
Many non-dairy yoghurts, such as those made with coconut and almond milk, also contain probiotics, which is great for those following a vegan diet. The label on the yoghurt will tell you what probiotics are present. Some yoghurts carry the National Yoghurt Associations "Live and Active Culture" seal, but this is not always present, so always check the ingredients label.
Another way to keep your bowels moving is to make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. It is important that you are drinking plain water, as sparkling water does not have the same effect on your bowels, plus, it can be very bloating. If you struggle to drink water, try having it warm, as this is not only soothing, but also stimulates digestive activity more than cold water.
In addition, our Linoforce granules may be a beneficial product to try if you are suffering from constipation. Linoforce is a natural constipation remedy and can be added to a glass of water at night, therefore boosting your fluid intake, as well as tackling current constipation.
- Plain Greek yoghurt with warm fruit compote or your favourite fresh fruit, seeds and a little granola.
Papaya is a delicious and highly nutritious fruit, being a rich source of vitamin C, as well as vitamin A, folate and potassium. In addition to these nutrients, papaya is thought to be a remedy for constipation and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Papayas contain an enzyme called papain which can help with the digestion of proteins in your gut. As well as this, papaya has a high-water content and is a good source of fibre, both of which help to keep your system moving.
One study, which looked at the effect of a papaya-based formula on individuals with problems in the gastrointestinal tract, found that there was a significant improvement in constipation and bloating when re-assessing after 40 days of supplementation with papaya.3
- Dried papaya – dried fruits are a great swap for snacks full of refined sugars, and are a lot better for your gut. Try adding dried papaya to cereal or porridge for a unique taste
- Papaya smoothie containing Greek yogurt, blueberries, chia seeds and papaya.
Ginger is not only a tasty ingredient in sweet treats and drinks, it also has many medicinal properties which have been valued for years across many cultures. As well as helping to relieve pain and nausea, ginger can have a soothing effect on the digestive system.
Ginger has a long tradition of being effective in reducing discomfort and pain in the stomach. Ginger is a carminative, which means that it both prevents and eliminates excessive gas, plus it helps to relax and soothe muscles in the intestinal tract.
Ginger can also be used as a remedy for constipation. It is often referred to as the 'warming herb' as it increases heat generation in the body, which can often help to speed up slow-moving digestion. If enjoyed in a hot drink, the hot water can further stimulate digestion and provide relief to constipation symptoms.
In fact, warm foods are always better for the gut, and stimulate activity in the bowel significantly more than cold foods. Try warming up your cereal in the mornings, or have a glass of warm prune juice to get things moving.
One study by the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that ginger also stimulates saliva, bile and gastric enzymes to help in the digestion of foods, plus it helps speed up the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine.4
If you're looking for a sweet snack to add to your balanced diet, you may like to try our ginger truffles. They are quick and easy to prepare, and make a perfect snack to take with you on-the-go. Or, if you are more of a savoury person, our pear and ginger chutney may be the perfect snack for you! This can be enjoyed in salads or with oatcakes, for example.