Top 5 Fruits to Treat Constipation, According to a Dietitian

Gut Health, Plant Based Nutrition

Constipation is a common digestive issue that affects many individuals. It’s actually the most common digestive complaint in the United States. It occurs when bowel movements become less frequent or difficult to pass. While occasional constipation is usually not a cause for concern, chronic constipation can be uncomfortable and may require intervention.

Fortunately, incorporating certain fruits into your diet can help alleviate and prevent constipation naturally. In this article, we’ll explore what constipation is, its causes, how to prevent or treat it, and the top five fruits recommended by a dietitian for managing constipation effectively.

What is Constipation?

Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week or having difficulty passing stool. Symptoms of constipation may include straining during bowel movements, hard or lumpy stools, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. Constipation can occur for various reasons, including dietary factors, dehydration, lack of physical activity, and certain medical conditions.

Causes of Constipation

Several factors can contribute to the development of constipation, including:

  • Low fiber diet: A diet low in fiber can lead to hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass.
  • Dehydration: Inadequate fluid intake can result in dry and hard stools, making them harder to pass.
  • Lack of physical activity: Regular physical activity helps stimulate bowel movements by promoting the contraction of intestinal muscles.
  • Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement: Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement can lead to stool remaining in the colon for an extended period, causing it to become harder and more difficult to pass.
  • Certain medications: Some medications, such as opioids, antidepressants, and antacids containing calcium or aluminum, can cause constipation as a side effect.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C), hypothyroidism, and diabetes, can contribute to constipation.

How to Prevent or Treat Constipation

Preventing and treating constipation involves adopting healthy dietary and lifestyle habits. Here are some tips to help prevent or alleviate constipation:

  • Eat a fiber-rich diet: Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into your meals to ensure an adequate intake of dietary fiber.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated and prevent stool from becoming dry and hard.
  • Be physically active: Engage in regular physical activity, such as walking, jogging, or cycling, to promote healthy bowel function and prevent constipation.
  • Listen to your body: Pay attention to your body’s natural cues and respond promptly to the urge to have a bowel movement.
  • Manage stress: Practice stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises, as stress can contribute to digestive issues, including constipation.

Top 5 Fruits to Treat Constipation

When it comes to managing constipation naturally, certain fruits stand out for their effectiveness. Here are the top five fruits recommended by a dietitian for preventing and treating constipation:

1. Kiwi

Kiwi is rich in fiber, particularly soluble fiber, and contains an enzyme called actinidin, which aids digestion and promotes regular bowel movements. Additionally, kiwi is packed with vitamin C, which supports overall gut health.

A study demonstrated that incorporating two gold kiwifruits into one’s daily diet, which equates to a standard serving of fruit, can be as effective as consuming fiber-matched psyllium in treating constipation among adults. Notably, this natural approach exhibited fewer side effects and contributed to improved stool consistency and reduced straining during bowel movements.

2. Pears

Pears are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, making them effective in softening stool and promoting bowel regularity. Incorporating pears into your diet can help prevent constipation and alleviate symptoms of existing constipation.

However, while pears are a healthy choice for many, individuals with allergies or sensitivities to related fruits should exercise caution. Additionally, those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or those following a low FODMAP diet may consider avoiding pears due to their high sorbitol and fructose content. These compounds can trigger diarrhea, especially in children.

3. Bananas

Bananas are rich in potassium, which helps maintain proper fluid balance in the body and prevents dehydration, a common contributor to constipation. Additionally, bananas contain pectin, a type of soluble fiber that aids digestion and promotes regular bowel movements.

Bananas can either alleviate or exacerbate constipation, depending on their ripeness. An unripe banana might worsen constipation, whereas a ripe one could help alleviate it. However, the impact may differ based on an individual’s dietary habits and underlying health conditions such as IBS.

4. Prunes

Prunes, or dried plums, are well-known for their laxative effects and are often used as a natural remedy for constipation. They are high in insoluble fiber, sorbitol, and natural sugars, all of which contribute to their effectiveness in promoting bowel regularity and relieving constipation.

5. Apples

Apples contain a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as natural sugars and water content, making them effective in preventing and treating constipation. The fiber in apples adds bulk to stool, while the natural sugars and water content help soften stool and facilitate its passage through the digestive tract.

Incorporating these fruits into your diet can help promote regular bowel movements and alleviate constipation naturally. Whether eaten fresh, dried, or blended into smoothies, these fruits offer natural and effective ways to manage constipation and maintain optimal digestive health.

If you’re looking for personalized guidance on improving your gut health or addressing any digestive concerns, schedule a consultation with Julie Pace, Registered Dietitian at Core Nutrition Health and Wellness for a customized plan tailored to your unique needs to help you achieve optimal digestive wellness. Take the first step towards better gut health by booking your consultation today.