Help for Constipation

By Charlyn Fargo

November 11, 2016 5 min read

We all experience a little constipation from time to time. It can be a side effect of certain drugs, medical conditions and even aging, but it also can be a result of dehydration, a low-fiber diet and lack of exercise. However, it's certainly reversible — with a fiber-rich diet and exercise.

Here are some additional tips from Environmental Nutrition newsletter:

—Eat more plants to get more fiber into your diet. Fiber is found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. We need between 25 and 35 grams of fiber per day. A single cup of raspberries has 8 grams of fiber. Other fruits high in fiber include prunes, kiwi, blackberries, mangos and peaches.

—Drink more water. Eating fiber without drinking enough water can worsen symptoms of constipation. The general recommendation is 64 ounces per day. While water is the best beverage, other fluids such as fruit and vegetable juices and clear soups are also beneficial.

—Add yogurt to your diet. Cultured and fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, unpasteurized sauerkraut and Gouda cheese all contain probiotics, which are beneficial microorganisms that have been found to help with constipation.

—Get moving. Aerobic exercise helps stimulate contraction of the intestines, moving food along faster. The faster transit time means less time for water to seep out of stools, keeping it softer and easier to pass.

—Keep a journal to know what foods work for you or make things worse.

Q and A

Q: Is there any difference in the nutritional value of golden flaxseeds vs. brown flaxseeds?

A: Both contain 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, primarily ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) in a 3 tablespoon serving. ALA, the form of omega-3s found in plants, has been touted for its health benefits. While the jury is still out on ALA's own possible benefits, be aware that relatively little ALA converts into DHA and EPA, the omega-3s found in fish oil that have been shown to have positive cardiovascular effects. Flaxseeds are also a good source of dietary fiber. Golden flaxseeds have 9 grams in 3 tablespoons, while brown flaxseeds have only 7 grams. The brown variety contains slightly more potassium and calcium, however, while golden flaxseeds have 160 calories per 3 tablespoons, compared to 140 for brown. Overall, the differences are minor, and either variety can be chosen to add flaxseeds to your diet. — Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter.

RECIPE

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. Here's a recipe to put a healthier twist on the stuffing. This Apple, Cranberry and Pecan Stuffing recipe is from Cooking Light magazine.

Apple, Cranberry and Pecan Stuffing

12 ounces whole-grain bread, cut into 3/4-in. cubes

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1 large Fuji apple, diced (about 2 cups)

1 cup pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes. Place bread in a large bowl. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onion, celery, and carrot to pan; saute 6 minutes. Add apple; cook 4 minutes. Stir in pecans, cranberries, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add apple mixture to bread; toss. Combine stock, butter, and eggs in a bowl. Drizzle over bread mixture; toss. Let stand 15 minutes. Spoon into a 13- x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes. Serves 12.

Per serving: 230 calories, 7g protein, 23 g carbohydrate, 13.3 g fat, 39 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 271 mg sodium.

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