• An unwelcome feeling to the body, constipation is an uncomfortable and frustrating blockade that has one’s body demanding relief. Fortunately, nature, through food, provides a few ways to manage constipation.

    Medical specialist Dr Barbara Makumbi (also referred to as Dr B) explains that constipation varies with severity, and its definition differs from patient to patient. “It can be perceived as an altered bowel habit with hard and lumpy stools. Alternatively, it can be interpreted as excessive straining with difficulty defecating and the sensation of not having fully emptied the bowels.”

    Dr B adds that constipation may be caused by the slow movement or transit of the bowels. However, in some, the movement of the bowels is completely normal.

    As a result of constipation, people may experience abdominal distension, bloating and discomfort, while complications may include:

    • Haemorrhoids or piles: Develop as a result of pushing and straining with hard stools (these are engorged veins in the anal canal or lower rectum).
    • Fissures: A tear in the tissue around the anus.

    Both haemorrhoids or piles and fissures can result in rectal bleeding. Rarely, in severe constipation, a patient can develop:

    • Rectal prolapse: A part of the rectum pushed through the anus from excessive strain and weakening of the surrounding tissues.
    • Faecal impaction: A large, hard stool stuck inside the rectum that needs to be removed manually.

    As a way to manage constipation, Dr B shares the following foods to consume to remedy the problem:

    Natural laxatives

    To get the tummy working, one can consume kiwis, figs, prunes and coffee.


    Dietary fibre

    Dietary fibre is effective in relieving mild and moderate constipation. It is encouraged to have 25-30 grams of soluble fibre a day (softer fibre with better water absorption) compared to insoluble fibre (harder fibre). Such fibre include:

    • Oat bran
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Barley seeds
    • Legumes: lentils, chickpeas, black beans
    • Peas
    • Popcorn
    • Whole wheat bread
    • Unrefined cereals
    • Fruits and vegetables (with the skin on)

    “Be careful with taking in too much fibre as this can cause bloating, gas and abdominal distension,” warns Dr B.

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    This article was originally written and published by Jade Rhode for BONA Magazine.

    Feature image: Pexels