Today we are talking about one of those subjects that we would all rather avoid but many of us have run into at some point – constipation. Whether you get the odd problem now and again or are a consistent sufferer, constipation is a seriously unpleasant condition. And while there are lots of ideas about how to deal with it, there seems to be no firm plan. Smoothies may seem like a great way to help get things moving but there is both good and bad with smoothies and constipation.
Why am I constipated?
Let’s not go into too much details about the how of being constipated but instead look at the why and how to alleviate it. Constipation is a fancy name for a vital bodily function not working correctly and can be brought on by a number of reasons.
For me personally, I occasionally suffer from the condition due to taking regular painkillers for a joint condition. Codeine is known for this as are similar drugs and I find if I don’t drink enough, this adds together with the medication to cause the problem. Luckily, it doesn’t normally last too long for me but I know many people suffer hugely with it.
As well as various medications causing problems, other issues that can lead to constipation include:
- lack of fibre in the diet
- not drinking enough fluids
- high temperature
- anxiety or depression
- lack of exercise or being immobile for periods of time
- underweight or overweight
- changing your routine in some way
Other conditions can also lead to constipation such as irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer. Even seemingly unrelated conditions such as an underactive thyroid gland or spinal cord injuries can cause it.
Smoothies and constipation
Smoothies can be a good way to help with the condition but some caution needs to be involved as some ingredients can actually make things worse. Also the additional liquid can help loosen things up so using water and ice is a good tip.
Top of the ingredients list to help with constipation are prunes. Other fruits and vegetables that can help include grapefruit, papaya, kiwi, oranges and bananas. These have a lot of fibre in them and are natural laxatives. Combining them with plenty of water can help to get things moving.
Also look to include healthy fats in your diet such as those from avocado, hemp or chia seeds. Keep away from unsprouted nuts when you are constipated as this can make things worse and try to keep off high fat processed foods for the same reason.
For some basic combinations with water to get started you could try:
2 green apples with 3 kiwis and a squeeze of lime juice
2 green apples, 2 oranges and 1 grapefruit (or substitute one of these for juice if you prefer)
A good recipe I saw to act as a constipation stopper was:
- 6 prunes (pitted)
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 cup crushed ice
- 1 cup plain organic yoghurt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch nutmeg
Another recipe can use ice and keep adding until you get the consistency that you like – it also keeps the smoothie cool and makes for a refreshing summer drink:
- ½ cup juice of your choice
- 1 large apple
- 1 orange
- 5 strawberries
- 2 spears pineapple
- ½ cup oatmeal
Green smoothies can be an answer (or not, as we see below). Combine celery and cucumber with lemon, pineapple and a little ginger for a boost of natural fibre.
Can green smoothies cause constipation?
Green smoothies are huge and are a brilliant way to get all that leafy greens goodness without actually eating them (not my favourite food!) but there is some people who have found that green smoothies can make them constipated.
According to www.incrediblesmoothies.com this can be a side effect of too much good stuff too quickly. Fibre, to be precise. The normal intake for most people is around 12-15 grams of fibre a day, below the recommended amount. Then you jump into green smoothies and you are up to around 45 grams or more. Your body can’t cope with it and all that fibre can block up your system, even causing constipation.
So the advice is simple – build it up gradually to the recommended amount. If you fall in love with green smoothies, ration how many you have or how many high fibre ingredients you include in them. That way you will get all the good and avoid the bad.