Fiber intake leads to adequate digestion, and it has also been related to a reduction in the risk of chronic illnesses, like heart disease and diabetes. However, a busy schedule and the excessive consumption of fast food and precooked products can negatively affect the proper function of your gut, causing a number of problems, such as unhealthy weight gain, high cholesterol, and chronic constipation.
To treat and prevent constipation, an adequate intake of fruits, vegetables, and grains is highly recommended. These are some foods that you easy to find and incorporate to your diet so that you can improve your gut's health.
Prunes are great to relieve constipation. Their efficient laxative action is commonly attributed to their high fiber content, but it is actually sorbitol that is mainly responsible. This sugar alcohol, although it cannot be digested by the body, helps balance sugar and water levels in stools, enabling them to pass through the digestive tract more easily and with significantly less pain.
Prunes aren't toxic at all, and are less likely to promote dependency than irritant laxatives. For that reason, they are regarded as one of the safest options for mid- to long-term constipation relief. Prunes can be eaten raw, freshly ground, juiced, in syrup form, as jam, or as a supplement, in capsules.
Kiwifruit offers a high dietary fiber content and has extensively shown its benefits for the digestive system. Actinidain, the active component in kiwis, is responsible for tenderizing meat, so it helps to break down proteins during digestion. Kiwifruit is well known for its contribution to the relief of symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This exotic and delicious fruit is relatively easy to find, and it can be consumed raw in salads, juices, and smoothies. Its active compound can also be found in tablets.
Psyllium is a natural grain that yields an outstanding 60 - 70% fiber, eight times higher than oat bran. After being ingested, its high non-soluble fiber content doesn't get absorbed in the small intestine, passing right through to the large intestine, where it is partially broken down by normal bacterial flora. It absorbs the excess of water and increases around 10 times in volume, becoming a mucilaginous gel responsible for bulking the stools and stimulating their elimination.
Psyllium is easy to incorporate to a healthy diet by taking it as a supplement. It can be mixed with water, smoothies, and shakes in its powdered form, and it also can be taken in capsules. To make the best of its effects, it is recommended to consume psyllium with every meal with plenty of liquids.
Flax, like psyllium, has a high soluble and insoluble fiber content, and the seeds are commonly used as a treatment for constipation, as their fiber and mucilage content help to improve stool motility. An easy way to include flaxseed as part of a healthy diet is adding it to cereals, salads, and smoothies.
Papaya contains a remarkable nutrient called papain, a powerful enzyme that aids in the digestion of protein, and is even used to tenderize meat. It can be prescribed for dyspeptic patients and celiac disease patients. Papaya is frequently consumed raw as a breakfast food, snack item, or salad ingredient.
The presence of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber is a must to maintain a healthy digestive system. If you are not used to having fiber in your diet, it's recommendable to start with small doses and increment your intake gradually. In just few weeks, you'll see very positive changes.
- MedlinePlus Herbs and Supplements, Dietary Fiber
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- Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, Actinidia deliciosa
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