Which Foods Relieve Constipation? 9 Scientifically-Backed Foods

Updated: Jul 6

Most people experience constipation at some point in their lives. In most cases we can relieve it naturally - read the article to find out how.

Image of woman holding her stomach because she is constipated

Constipation is fairly common, with 16 out of every 100 adults experiencing its symptoms. That number increases as we age to 33 out of every 100 for people over 60. [*] Symptoms are often related to diet and lifestyle, which means we can easily correct the issue. [*] So what foods relieve constipation? Read on to find out how to relieve constipation naturally.


Which Foods Relieve Constipation?


1. Pears and Apples


When wondering how to relieve constipation naturally, we often turn to fiber-rich foods. This is because the body cannot digest fiber - instead, it’s used to soften and bulk up stool, making it easier to go. [*] Women need 21 to 25 grams, while men need 30 to 38 grams. Pears and apples are some of the highest-fiber foods. In a medium-sized fruit, pears have about 5.5 grams of fiber, while apples have 4.5. [*] These are great to pack as snacks to take care of yourself at work.


2. Prunes


Which foods relieve constipation? Prunes are one of the most common answers. For good reason - a ¼ cup serving has about 3 grams of fiber. [*] Prunes contain cellulose, an insoluble fiber that adds moisture and bulk to stool. Plus, prunes contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol, which acts as a laxative in some people. [*] [*]


3. Figs


Just ½ cup of dried figs has 7.9 grams of fiber. [*] In studies, figs and fig paste has shown to speed up the digestive process, ease stomach pain, increase stool weight, and improve stool consistency. [*] [*] Dried figs are also accessible, as they can be found in the dried foods section of most grocery stores. They can be eaten as a sweet snack or added to savory meals.


Related: Top Foods for Healthy Skin, Hair, and Nails: What to Add to Your Diet


printable meal planner page to keep up with the food that relieve constipation

4. Yogurt


Probiotics - “good bacteria” - may also aid in boosting gut health and treating constipation by softening the stool. In one study, participants with chronic constipation ate 180 milliliters of unflavored probiotic yogurt every morning for two weeks. The results showed that the yogurt increased the speed of waste as it moved through the bowels, thus improving constipation. [*]


Related: Is Kombucha Good For You? What Is It Anyway?


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5. Greens


Greens are low in calories but high in fiber. For example, a cup of spinach contains 4.7 grams of fiber and just 27 calories, while a cup of Brussel sprouts contains 3.34 grams of fiber and 38 calories. [*] [*]


6. Lentils, Beans, and Peas


Also referred to as pulses, lentils, peas, and beans are chock full of fiber. For example, ½ cup of cooked lentils contains 7.8 grams of fiber. [*] One study found that generally speaking, 100 grams of cooked pulses contains about 26% of daily fiber needs. Plus, pulses also contain nutrients like potassium, zinc, and folate, which can help with constipation. [*]


Related: Is the Vegan Diet Healthy? What Are the Benefits?

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7. Sweet Potato


A cup of mashed sweet potato contains 6 grams of fiber, which is primarily insoluble fiber from cellulose, lignin, and pectin. [*] In one study, daily intake of sweet potatoes improved the symptoms of constipation and made it easier to go. [*]


8. Chia seeds


Chia seeds are incredibly fiber-rich, containing 9.75 grams in a one-ounce serving. [*] Plus, chia seeds are easy to add to your diet since they’re so small. Sprinkle them onto cereal, yogurt, oats, desserts, or salads. You can also mix them into juice or a smoothie.


9. Water


Something that is often overlooked when searching for how to relieve constipation naturally is water. One of the most common causes of constipation is dehydration. If you’re not getting enough water, your intestines can’t add water to the stool, resulting in a hard, dry stool. This makes it much harder to pass through the bowels. By upping your water intake, you could improve the symptoms of constipation. [*] Women need about 11.5 cups per day, while men need 15.5. [*]


Related: What Does Drinking Water Do for Metabolism, Skin, and Digestion?


Final Thoughts on How to Relieve Constipation Naturally


By understanding which foods relieve constipation, you can take action and resolve constipation without medications. One of the keys to correcting the issue is consistency - you must get in enough fiber on a daily basis. Use a meal planner and water tracker to ensure you’re including fiber-rich foods and hydrating water each day. A food journal can also be helpful and act as an accountability tool to keep you on track of your health and wellness.


Dr. Dawn's Wellness Tools social media handle @drdawnswellnesstools


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