Why Is Fiber Important
Fiber is a very important part of your diet. Without it your body would be unable to clear waste products from your system, remove toxins and you would become constipated. The recommended amount of fiber is between 25 grams (for a women) and 38 grams (for a man) per day. However, the average American is only getting about 15 grams of fiber per day which is nowhere near the recommended amount for a healthy gut and digestive track.
If you find that you're getting constipation on a regular basis, or even if it's only from time to time then you're probably not getting enough fiber anyway. Today's lifestyle full of junk food, fizzy drinks and general lack of proper nutrition can really start to take a strain on your body and this is its way of letting you know that there's a problem.
Top 5 Snacks To Beat Constipation
Getting enough fiber into your diet can often be tricky, especially if you're not used to eating the correct amount. The first thing I would recommend doing is tracking how much you're actually eating and then making amendments from there.
Once you've figured out how much you're consuming on a normal day then start to add in fiber slowly until you've reached your recommended daily amount. Be warned though that if you suddenly go straight up to the recommended amount from a very low amount then you will get constipated because it'll be too much for your body to process in one go. Take it slowly and you will be better for it in the long run.
You can get fiber from loads of different sources but dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains are your best options. Here is a list of my top five favorite snacks to have to bump up my fiber intake for the day.
Almonds and Brazil Nuts
Nuts are a great source of fiber but the best ones are almonds and brazil nuts. You can often find them in your normal grocery store and can buy them either in individual servings or in large bags.
Brazil nuts have 2.5 grams of fiber per 1/4 cup serving but almonds carry a wonderful 4 grams of fiber per 1/4 cup serving. Other nuts fall somewhere between these two ranges but I find these two types the easiest to pack in snack bags.
Raspberries and Other Fruits
Raspberries are a super food when it comes to fiber. They pack an incredible 8 grams of fiber per cup and only 64 calories. You really cannot go wrong with this fruit and it can be eaten by itself, with yoghurt, on cereal and anything else you want to try it on.
The runner-up to raspberries is the pear; for one medium pear you get 96 calories and a great 5.1 grams of fiber. Combining a cup of raspberries and sliced pear into a great snack will give you 160 calories and 13.1 grams of fiber which is over 50% of a woman's recommended fiber allowance.
Sunflower Seeds/ Flax Seeds
Flax seeds have a great 7.6 grams of fiber per 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) serving and can be used on many meals. I like to sprinkle a tablespoon (10 grams) onto my cereal or yoghurt in the morning and there's a couple of grams of fiber to start my day off already.
As for sunflower seeds they do make a great snack to carry around in your bag. They can also be used in salads and baked into bread. With sunflower seeds you'll be getting 3.6 grams of fiber per 1/4 cup.
I discovered the other day that oatmeal now comes in handy little pots that can be made with boiling water or by adding milk and popping in the microwave. I love to have mine for breakfast and making it on the stove with milk, honey and fruit. As for the snack pots they are a great way to pack in some extra fiber if you're on the move all day. Simply keep a couple of pots in your car or bag and when the hunger monster strikes pop to the kettle or microwave and away you go. For one cup of oatmeal (cooked) you'll be getting a yummy 4 grams of fiber now if you were to add some raspberries on there too you'll be well on your way to a fiber packed day.
Although yoghurt isn't necessarily high in fiber it does have many friendly bacteria to help the fiber to its job in your tummy. Without these bacteria your digestive track would not be able to absorb food, break down food or convert it to energy. So, if you find yourself with a bought of constipation trying adding some yoghurt to your routine to build up that friendly bacteria again.
The Free Snack
Water is one of your best friends when it comes to constipation as dehydration can also be a cause for bowel problems. As the intestines remove water from the food moving through your system to use elsewhere you might find that you just don't have enough liquids to share. This then causes the stools to get hardened along the way which makes them difficult and very uncomfortable to pass when you do find the urge to go.
To counteract this problem make sure that you're getting at least 8 glasses of water a day, maybe even more if you're constipated on a regular basis. A great tip I use to make sure I'm getting enough water is to use this simple formula:
- Drink half your weight (lbs) in oz plus a further 10 oz.
So, if you weigh 150 lbs then you'll need to drink 75 oz (half your weight) plus another 10 oz bringing it up to a total of 85 oz for the day.
There are few ways you can get this water into your system and these are a few tips that I use everyday:
- Upon waking drink a pint (16 ounces) of water
- Have half a pint (8 ounces) after each meal
- Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day and sip regularly from it
By combining water with your constipation beating snacks you'll soon be on the way to a very healthy tummy and those troubles will be behind you soon enough.