Vegan Foods To Avoid Constipation This Season

By December 19, 2017Food, Nutrition

Holidays are just around the corner, and you have to get your belly ready. Not to mention, this is the season for your aching body to have that sweet time to relax, unwind and just get away from the hectic schedule that our busy life demands.

But before the gobble party and hibernation begins, let us not ignore one major consequence: constipation. Yes, it is time to enjoy and reward yourself but, is it possible for this time to be worry-free, while digging into those mouthwatering dishes and just embrace the season?

Let’s first, take a look at what this unwanted feeling is all about.

What Is Constipation?

It’s a delayed bowel movement:

After you eat, the stomach sends the food to the small intestine. Most of the nutrients and minerals are absorbed there.

When the small intestine finishes its job, the large intestine starts working. He absorbs any nutrients and water left. There, the food becomes feces with the help of friendly bacteria. The waste is solid due to the lack of water.

Muscle contractions move the stool throughout the whole process. When these contractions are slow or delayed, the large intestine absorbs more water from the stool. This makes the feces dryer, therefore, harder to push out from the body, causing constipation.

There are three causes of constipation: (excluding specific diseases like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, or effects of certain medications):

 

LOW-FIBER DIET

Fiber is a nutrient also called “roughage” or “bulk”. It’s the indigestible part of plants. It passes through your bowels and exits practically with the same composition it had when it entered. Through that journey, it improves your health and benefits your metabolism.

There are two types of fiber. Both are needed to prevent constipation and, usually, both are present in high-fiber foods:

  • SOLUBLE FIBER

Is the one that dissolves in water. When it enters the body, it turns into a gel-like substance. 

  • INSOLUBLE FIBER

 This doesn’t dissolve in water. It passes almost intact through the digestive tract, helping to bulk up the stool and easing its exit.

Most animal products don’t provide a good source of fiber. The best sources are plants and fruits, so “if you need to go… Go vegan.”

Medical recommendations are 21-25 grams of fiber per day for women and 30-38 grams per day for men. I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s easier than it seems.

 

POOR HYDRATION

The second cause of constipation. You need to stay hydrated, every organ and cell within you need water to survive. An average adult loses 2 – 3 liters of water per day (by urine, sweat, breathing… crying over Hodor’s death, and other processes). You need to replenish that amount daily to keep your body working correctly.

Water will also keep your stool hydrated, which will help you to dispose of it easily. The combination of fiber and water is a guarantee for avoiding constipation problems.

Medical estimations suggest that men need 3,5 lt. per day, while women need 2,8 lt. If you don’t like water, add some lemon juice to it. That combination makes a great detox beverage. If you like water but forget to drink it, put the bottle somewhere visible for you at work or at home. Looking at it all the time will make you drink it without thinking about it.

 

LACK OF EXERCISE

The third cause of constipation. As humans, we are literally designed to move. Exercise helps your bowel muscles to contract more effectively, preventing constipation. It’s not about running marathons or spending hours in the gym, it’s about keeping your body moving.

The recommendation for an adult without any medical condition is 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Nowadays, there are plenty of options for exercising: mobile apps, gym, calisthenics, aerobics… You could start by walking a few days per week to work. It’s better a little exercise a week than none. Your bowels will thank you.

As you can see, a vegan diet alone isn’t a guarantee of an adequate digestive process (and good health). As we tend to eat more fiber, one of the most common vegan health issues is constipation if there are dehydration and sedentary habits too. The bowel movement of a vegan who is well hydrated and does some exercise will be flawless.

 

 

Now that you, dear kemosabe, have all that digestive wisdom, let’s talk about what we should have for our vegan holiday feasts, so we can still maximize appreciating all the good holiday foods while staying confident that there won’t be any tummy trouble ahead.

Some have more fiber than others. The more processed the food, the lower its fiber content. Keep that in mind when shopping for your vegan party. Also, there are foods that will enhance your large intestine’s movements without having high amounts of fiber.

I’ve prepared this list that will help “get things moving”, as you should have them together with your holiday feasting. From our selection of Vegan Digestive Enzymes, Fruits, Veggies, Grans/Beans, Seeds, and more, complete your shopping cart and enjoy a perfectly undisturbed Vegan Holiday:

 

 

Vegan Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes aid in the digestion of food, as well as inside cell,
where they function  as a group that breaks down food substances
into their smaller building blocks, in order to facilitate
their absorption by the body.

 

You definitely shouldn’t miss these babies, as you can get them from your local grocery store.  You can even use them as ingredients for your own vegan dish. Why not prepare constipation-free meals for your friends, or guests? Get ready to be filled with refreshing, healthy and satisfying meals.

(The percentages shown are relative to the serving per ingredient and the recommended daily intake of macros and micronutrients for an individual between 18-50 years old)

 

Fruits

 

They are one of the best sources of fiber and nutrients. Eating fruits on a daily basis will bring you tons of benefits.

PRUNES (DRIED PLUMS)

Nutrition Facts

Benefits

Tips For A Daily Diet

Serving Size (1 cup) 174 g

Calories              418Total Fat                   0.7g
Saturated Fat         0.2g

Total Carbohydrate 111g

Dietary Fiber            12g
Sugar                       66g

Protein                      3.8g

 

Minerals

Potassium                    36%
Iron                                9%
Calcium                         7%

Vitamins

K       129%
A      27%
B-6      18%
Riboflavin 19%

●     First treatment option for chronic constipation.

●     Enhance mental activity and muscle coordination.

●     Reduces cholesterol and blood pressure.

●     Potential treatment for osteoporosis.

●     50 grams per day for three
weeks increase the spontaneous
bowel movements.

●     Eat them as a snack or dessert.

●     Add them to your oatmeal for a sweet twist.

●     Mix them with nuts and other dried fruits.

●     Blend them with smoothies.

●     Add them as toppings for cakes or cookies.

●     Make a jam or puree with them.

Be careful: Prunes have a high amount of sugar per serving. They won´t help with weight loss.

 

 

KIWI

Nutrition Facts

Benefits

Tips For A Daily Diet

Serving Size (1 cup) 177 g

Calories                  108

Total Fat                   0.9g

Saturated Fat         0.1g

Total Carbohydrate 25.9 g

Dietary Fiber            5.3 g
Sugar                       15.9g

Protein                      2 g

Minerals

Potassium                    16%
Iron                                3%
Calcium                         6%

Vitamins

C       273%
K      89%
B-6      6%
A        3%

 

●     Helps to treat asthma by aiding the lung function.

●     Improves your digestive health.

●     Enhances the immune system due to the Vitamin C level.

●     Lowers your risk of colon cancer.

●     Keeps your vision healthy.

●     Eat it raw, alone or in a fruit salad.

●     Add it to a smoothie.

●     Raw will keep the nutrients levels intact.

●     There are supplements of kiwi.
Consult with an MD before taking them

 

AVOCADO

Nutrition Facts

Benefits

Tips For A Daily Diet

Serving Size (1 cup) 150 g

Calories                      240

Total Fat                       22 g

Saturated Fat            3.2 g

Total Carbohydrate  12.8 g

Dietary Fiber           10.1 g
Sugar                           1 g

Protein             3g

 

Minerals

Potassium                     21%
Iron                                  5%
Calcium                           2%

Vitamins

C          25%
K           39%
B-6       19%
Folate    30%

 ●     It’s a tasty ally to prevent constipation.

●     Keeps the blood pressure controlled.

●     Decreases the risk of cancer.

●     Keeps cholesterol levels low.

●     Helps the absorption of other nutrients.

●     Protects the vision.

●     Turn it into a delicious guacamole.
Then, you can add it to salads,
sandwiches or with snacks.●     Add cubes or slices to a salad or a sandwich.●     Stuff them with roasted veggies for lunch.●     Eat them raw with some salt, lemon, and pepper.

 

Veggies

For a real vegan health holiday.

 

 

SPINACH

Nutrition Facts

Benefits

Tips For A Daily Diet

Serving Size (1 cup) 30 g

Calories                      6.9

Total Fat                       22 g

Saturated Fat            3.2 g

Total Carbohydrate    1.1 g

Dietary Fiber              0.7 g
Sugar                        0.1 g

Protein           0.9g 

 

Minerals

Potassium                       5%
Iron                                  5%
Calcium                           3%

Vitamins

A          56%
K         181%
C          14%
Folate    15%

 ●     It’s high in insoluble fiber, so it will help to bulk your stool.

●     Helps to fight aging.

●     Reduces the risk of diabetes.

●     Keeps the eyes healthy.

●     Regulates the blood pressure.

●     Studies suggest it suppresses the growth of cancer cells.

●     Add it to a fruit smoothie or a sandwich.

●     Replace lettuce with spinach in your salads.

●     Boil it and use the water to make bread.
This will remove most of the fiber, though.

●     Use it as a topping for a homemade pizza.

 Extra: Popeye knows best.

 

KALE

Nutrition Facts

Benefits

Tips For A Daily Diet

Serving Size (1 cup)  67 g

Calories                      33.5

Total Fat                       22 g

Saturated Fat            3.2 g

Total Carbohydrate    6.7 g

Dietary Fiber             1.3 g
Sugar                           0 g

 Protein                         2.2 g

Minerals

Sodium                            1%
Potassium                       9%
Iron                                  6%
Calcium                           9%

Vitamins

A        206%
C          134%
K        684%
B-6           9%

 ●     Same as spinach, helps to bulk your stool.

●     Keeps the values of blood pressure steady.

●     Prevents cancer.

●     Helps your immune system.

●     Reduces the risk of heart disease over time.

●     Prevents cataracts and other eye diseases.

●     Do kale chips to eat as a snack or side dish.

●     Add it to a smoothie or salad.

●     To decrease the bitterness, put the leaves in a bowl and squeeze them a few times with your hands. Cutting them helps too.

Extra: Kale is the king of leafy greens in the vitamins department.

 

GREEN BEANS

Nutrition Facts

Benefits

Tips For A Daily Diet

Serving Size (1 cup) 110 g

Calories                      34.1

Total Fat                    0.1 g

Saturated Fat            0 g

Total Carbohydrate  7.8 g

Dietary Fiber            3.7 g
Sugar                        1.5 g

Protein                        2 g

Minerals

Sodium                      0%
Potassium                   7%
Iron                        6%
Calcium                     4%

Vitamins

C          30%
K           20%
A          15%
Folate     10%

●     Most of its fiber content is soluble,
so it helps to keep your stool hydrated.
They’re recommended for people
with chronic constipation.●     Keeps the cholesterol levels low.●     Prevents heart disease.●     Helps to lose fat.
●     Boil them to have the perfect side dish. Add salt and pepper to enhance the taste.

 

●     Saute some green beans and have them as a snack or for dinner.

●     Dip them with hummus or guacamole
for a movie night.

 

 

Grains/Beans

These are our principal vegan source of protein.

The downside is the phytic acid. That’s the one to blame when you’re gassy after eating grains. It’s called an “anti-nutrient” because it decreases the absorption of valuable nutrients like iron and calcium.

Next time you prepare grains, leave them soaking in water overnight to soften the grain and add some vinegar, it will help to neutralize the acid. Get rid of that water and wash the grains with fresh water. Then, prepare them as usual.

 

 

LENTILS

Nutrition Facts

Benefits

Tips For A Daily Diet

Serving Size (1 cup) 230 g

Calories                      678

Total Fat                      0.8 g

Saturated Fat            0.1 g

Total Carbohydrate  39.9 g

Dietary Fiber           15.6 g
Sugar                        3.6 g

Protein                       17.9 g

Minerals

Manganese                   49%
Potassium                     21%
Iron                                37%
Phosphorus                   36%

Vitamins

B-6        18%
Thiamin 22%
Folate    90%

 

●     Ease the bowel movement.

●     Help the growth of muscle cells.

●     Control sugar levels,
that’s why they’re recommended
for diabetics.

●     Prevents heart disease and
could control cancer growth.

●     Best source of protein in a vegan diet.

●     Add them to your salads.

 

●     Make a tasty hummus.

●     Use them to make vegan burgers.

●     Prepare a cozy lentils soup for cold nights.

●     Do a vegan version of a Shepherd’s pie.

Extra: They contain the highest amount of protein among plants.

 

CHICKPEAS

Nutrition Facts

Benefits

Tips For A Daily Diet

Serving Size (1 cup) 164 g

Calories                      269

Total Fat                       22 g

Saturated Fat            3.2 g

Total Carbohydrate     45 g

Dietary Fiber           12.5 g
Sugar                        7.9 g

Protein                      14.5 g

Minerals

Calcium                           8%
Potassium                     14%
Iron                                26%
Manganese                   84%

Vitamins

K          8%
B-6       11%
Folate    71%

 

●     Lower the cholesterol levels.

●     Along with lentils,
chickpeas are the best source
of protein on a plant-based diet.

●     Take care of the nervous system.

●     Help to build muscle and blood cells.

●     Help to lose weight.

●     Hummus. You can add it to sandwiches, salads, as a topping or a dip for snacks.

 

●     Roasted chickpeas to make a nutritious snack.

●     Home made chana masala, a delicious Indian dish.

 

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR

Nutrition Facts

Benefits

Tips For A Daily Diet

Serving Size (1 cup) 120 g

Calories                      407
Total Fat                      2.2 gSaturated Fat            0.4 g

Total Carbohydrate  87.1 g

Dietary Fiber           14.6 g
Sugar                        0.5 g

Protein                       16.4 g

Minerals

Selenium                     121%
Zinc                               23%
Iron                                26%
Manganese                 228%

Vitamins

Niacin     38%
B-6      20%
Thiamin  36%

  • Helps to bulk your stool and also feeds the friendly bacteria of your bowels.
  • Prevents colon cancer.
  • Enhances the heart health.
  • Its gluten content is a powerful source of protein.
You can eat it in the form of:

●     Pasta
●     Pizza
●     Noodles
●     Seitan (using the gluten alone)
●     Bread and any baked goods. Check this vegan recipe for green kale bread to get the most of both.

Be careful: This is not a good option for celiacs due to the gluten.
Also, it spikes the glycemic level, therefore it’s not recommended for diabetics.

 

 

Seeds

They provide huge amounts of nutrients in little servings and they’re a must to help your digestive system when it’s in distress.

FLAXSEEDS (GROUND)

Nutrition Facts

Benefits

Tips For A Daily Diet

Serving Size (1 tbsp)    7 g

Calories                      37.4

Total Fat                         3 g

Saturated Fat            0.3 g

Total Carbohydrate    2.0 g

Dietary Fiber             1.9 g
Sugar                        0.1 g

Protein                     1.3 g

Minerals

Manganese                     9%
Iron                                  2%
Calcium                           2%

Vitamins

Thiamin   8%
B-6      2%
Folate    2%

 

●     They’re a natural laxative
due to their high amount of fiber.

●     Prevent heart disease.

●     Have omega-3, which prevents
some chronic diseases.

●     Enhances your metabolism.

●     Help to lose weight.

●     Add them to a smoothie,
pancake mix or oatmeal.

●     It’s the perfect extra ingredient
for a vegan burger.

●     Use them as an egg substitute.
Soak the seeds in some water for a while.
They will become a gel-like substance.

●     Use them as a crispy coating
for tofu bites.

Extra: To get the most out of them, grind the flaxseeds.

 

OATMEAL

Nutrition Facts

Benefits

Tips For A Daily Diet

Serving Size                 100 g

Calories                            399

Total Fat                         6.9 g

Saturated Fat               1.22 g

Total Carbohydrate    69.7 g

Dietary Fiber                    9 g
Sugar                            3.8 g

Protein                       13.1 g

Minerals

Zinc                               36%
Manganese                 170%
Iron                              285%
Calcium                         71%

Vitamins

E                                    25%
Riboflavin                    195%
Thiamin                       187%
Niacin                        142%

 

●     Lowers cholesterol levels.

●     Helps to keep a proper metabolism.

●     Enhances the neurological functions.

●     Stabilizes blood sugar levels in diabetics.

●     Increases the satiety sensation, helping to lose weight.

●     Have oatmeal for breakfast or dinner.
Add fruits, seeds, nuts,
dark chocolate, or prepare it
with almond/soy milk.

●     Add raw oats to a smoothie,
or in a homemade bread,
cookies, pancakes
or even a vegan burger.

●     Toast them to add a
crunchier feeling to your salads.

 

 

CHIA

Nutrition Facts

Benefits

Tips For A Daily Diet

Serving Size (1 oz) 28 g

Calories                      137

Total Fat                      8.6 g

Saturated Fat            0.9 g


Total Carbohydrate
  12.3 g

Dietary Fiber           10.6 g

Sugar                           1 g

Protein                         4.4 g

Minerals

Manganese                   30%

Zinc                                 7%

Phosphorus                   27%

Calcium                         18%

Vitamins

Poor source of vitamins.

 

●     It has twice the amount
of omega-3 of the flaxseeds.

●     Besides helping the digestive process,
it promotes your colon health.

●     Increases the satiety after meals,
helping the weight loss.

●     Reduces inflammation
and the risk of heart disease,
osteoporosis, and cancer.

●     They can be added to almost anything:
oatmeal, smoothies,
salads, pancake mix,
bread/cookie dough…

●     It’s an egg substitute, like the flaxseeds.

●     Chia pudding. 2 tbsp of chia and 15 tbsps of water /almond milk, some cinnamon and/or fruits. Let it sit overnight in the fridge and you’ll have a powerful breakfast for the next morning.

Extra: “Chia” is the Mayan word for “strength”. Mayas were a Mexican ancient civilization.

 

 

Extra

COFFEE (BREWED, NO SUGAR)

Nutrition Facts

Benefits

Tips For A Daily Diet

Serving Size (1 cup) 8 oz

Calories                        2.4

Total Fat                        0 g

Saturated Fat                  0 g

Total Carbohydrate      0 g

Dietary Fiber                   0 g
Sugar                             0 g

Protein                         0.3 g

Minerals

Magnesium                    2%
Potassium                       3%
Manganese                     3%

Vitamins

Riboflavin                     11%
Thiamin                          2%
Niacin                            2%

 

●     Apparently, the boost in metabolism
is responsible for stimulating
your bowel muscles, helping with constipation.

●     Increases your energy levels for
physical activity and improves
brain functions,
preventing Alzheimer’s
and dementia.

●     Helps with depression
and may reduce the risk
of suicide.

●     Have a cup with
breakfast or lunch.
Also, when you’re
feeling constipated.

●     If you’re caffeine sensitive,
try to avoid it after 2 PM.
The caffeine could disrupt
your sleep.

●     It can cause anxiety
or exacerbate
panic attacks.

Be careful: Caffeine is an addictive substance.
It can cause withdrawal symptoms (headaches, irritability, nausea).

 

 

Tips For Adding Fiber To A Low-Fiber Diet

Add high-fiber foods in small amounts. Increasing the amount suddenly can lead to adverse effects, like bloating, gases, abdominal pain and even nausea. Your friendly bacteria needs time to get used to the new quantity of fiber and that takes time. Take it easy.

Start with eating the peel of your apples, pears or potatoes, adding some more greens to your plate, and walking a few days per week to stimulate your bowel muscles.

Remember that the soluble fiber needs to absorb water, they’re like sponges. You’ll have to increase your daily intake of liquids to keep up. If you don’t, you can worsen constipation.

 

Last, but not least

As you can see, a vegan diet is not an absolute solution for constipation. You have to drink enough water daily and do some exercise as well.
Add these ingredients to your vegan Christmas dinner or a vegan celebration, but most importantly, to your daily life!

 

This article is for information purposes only. It’s not a substitute for medical advice.
Please consult a nutritionist or MD for personalized advice or if your diet requires specifications due to a certain disease.

About Michelle Torres

Michelle Torres is a vegan physiotherapist obsessed with learning new things. In her natural state, she'll be with a cup of coffee and some music writing a post about veganism or laughing. Probably the latter.

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