This one is written following a request from a friend to suggest some dietary tips to relieve constipation. Also, it took me back to the days when I started my career as a clinical nutritionist and used to have clients with the same complain. While counselling, I often used to wonder is it only the diet which needs to be modified or there is something more to it. I got my answer from various researches which have shown that increasing sedentary lifestyle of people has reduced physical activity to a large extent which has resulted in decreased bowel motility (activity) leading to constipation. Although this research is more relevant for elderly and people suffering from prolonged illness which reduces mobility yet in pregnancy the enlarged uterus compresses the intestine leading to decreased muscle tone and strength.
Natural storage carbohydrate (Inulin) found in wide variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs including wheat, onion, ripe bananas, garlic and asparagus has proved to be a better laxative than lactose (which is found in milk) and reduces constipation. However, yogurt which is formed by bacterial fermentation of milk has shown promising health benefits in gastrointestinal function whose effects are mediated through gut micro-flora, bowel transit, and enhancement of gastrointestinal immunity.
Hence stock up your kitchen shelves with whole grain cereals and pulses, fruits, vegetables and flax seeds and let refined cereals, bakery items and processed foods be in the grocery store. Keep yourselves adequately hydrated and with that I mean hydrate yourselves with water and avoid excess consumption of soft drinks, coffee, tea etc. as they can have a reverse effect leading to dehydration.
Please take advice of an expert in case you are on some medication which might cause constipation.