A reader and member of eldiario.es wrote to us some time ago with the following request: “I suffer from chronic constipation and I am in the hands of a dietitian-nutritionist to change my eating habits and eat laxative foods, but although I have improved, sometimes I return to constipation because, it seems, depending on how you cook certain foods, these can be astringent or laxative. For example, potatoes cooked in plenty of oil are good for going to the bathroom, however, if they are cooked or roasted, they are astringent. Sometimes it is frustrating to see that you do not finish improving, even following the guidelines of the dietitian, for this type of thing that we lay people are not aware of. Could you make an article that talks about what kinds of foods change to being astringent depending on how they are cooked? ”
What to eat and what not to eat when you have diarrhea
What do we understand by constipation?
We understand by constipation the inability of the digestive system to perform the contractions that achieve evacuation of feces. This problem can be conditioned and accentuated by various factors:
Weakness of the abdominal wall muscles and of the pelvic floor that intervene in defecation due to congenital causes or bad habits.
- Age, since in people over 65 years it is very common due to the aforementioned muscle weakness, as well as alterations in intestinal transit, sedentary lifestyle, the intake of multiple drugs, etc.
- Certain medications such as codeine for colds, analgesics, anxiolytics or antidepressants, among others, which cause a decrease in bowel movement.
- Suffering from diseases such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, irritable bowel, Crohn’s disease or the like.
- The pregnancy
- The genetic predisposition
- The presence in the rectum of fissures and hemorrhoids, which cause painful bowel movements that push us in a reflex action to avoid all bowel movements.
- The stress derived from situations of change or pain
- The time changes on trips
- A narrowing of the intestine known as stricture, polyps, colorectal cancer and other situations in which large bowel obstruction occurs
- A diet that includes in not enough high-fiber foods(vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts)
- A low fluid intake during meals
- Intake of alcohol, coffee and other diuretic drinks
Most of these causes are difficult to correct unless there are medical processes, long cures or the end of the circumstance (pregnancy, travel, emotional stress) that causes constipation. But where we can influence is in the diet, which will depend on whether constipation, especially when it is chronic, is milder or, on the contrary, more pronounced. Along with the diet, physical exercise also intervenes, which helps to regulate intestinal function.
A diet rich in fiber, but also in nuances
Although it is true that a diet rich in fiber helps prevent constipation, it does not always reduce it; at least not roughly. To begin with, not everything goes and it is advisable to avoid foods rich in tannins and pectins, at least in acute periods and in chronic cases such as that of María José. As the reader explains, some foods can go from reducing constipation to being astringent depending on whether they are cooked or not and how it is done, since tannins and pectins can prevail.
These substances, which are part of the soluble fiber fraction, have the problem that they absorb a lot of water, and although they give consistency to the stool, they also they dry out the intestinal wall, so that it lubricates less and thus prevents evacuation traffic. On the other hand, foods with excess fiber, such as legumes or some cereals such as oats, are not recommended in episodes of acute constipation, since they generate numerous flatulence flatulence that can be painful due to the obstruction of the intestine.
Based on these premises, but also because constipation appears many times due to a damaged or impoverished intestinal flora intestinal flora, common in diabetes, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel, we propose ten foods that help to avoid it and another ten that accentuate it.
The 10 that you should take
- Olive oil: as María José said, olive oil is recommended. It acts as a matrix for all kinds of foods, which it lubricates and thus allows them to pass easily, protecting the intestinal mucosa. In addition, its anti-inflammatory properties favor an easier intestinal transit.
- Plums with skin: they are rich in pectins, but also in water and sorbitol [para saber más: Sorbitol como edulcorante natural: ventajas y limitaciones], a sugar with powerful laxative properties. In addition, the skin contains insoluble fiber, essential to give stool hardness. To learn more: Eight reasons to reintroduce insoluble fiber into our diet.
- Integral rice: the reason is in its percentage of fiber, which gives consistency to the stool and allows it to pass through.
- Cucumber with skin: Although it is rich in pectins, it also provides a large amount of water and insoluble fiber, which gives consistency to the stool, helping it to pass.
- avocado: it is a vegetable fat that helps lubricate food in transit, as well as being rich in fiber and containing sorbitol.
- Chilled boiled potato: a clear case of what María José cited. Potatoes that are boiled and then cooled generate resistant starch. As we explained to you in A simple trick to make pasta and rice less fattening, the process of cooking and cooling carbohydrate chains such as starches makes them insoluble and indigestible, so they act like vegetable fiber that gives consistency to the bolus and feeds the bacterial flora.
- Pickles: pickles, sauerkraut, olives, banderillas are probiotics beyond yogurt, which help us to enrich the intestinal flora.
- Yogurt: it is the probiotic par excellence due to its contribution of bacteria of the Lactobacillus genus.
- Raw carrots: rich in vegetable fiber.
- Apples with skin: they add to soluble fiber, water and insoluble fiber.
The 10 that are not recommended
- Hot cooked potato: the heat destroys the starch generating many hydrates and activating the pectins, which are astringent.
- Cooked carrot: exactly the same thing happens; with heat it becomes astringent.
- White bread: it impoverishes the flora and does not provide fibers.
- Peeled or stewed apple: it is rich in tannins and pectins and loses the properties of the skin.
- Grapes: they are very rich in tannins, especially the skin, while the pulp contains pectins.
- Plantain: unless it is very ripe, it is rich in tannins and is considered astringent.
- Industrial pastries: it impoverishes the flora and gives rise to digestive disorders.
- White rice: its richness in pectins makes it astringent, without the advantages of the fiber of brown rice.
- Black tea: Tea contains a large amount of tannins, especially black, and is astringent.
- Quince: another fruit with high percentages of pectins that is as astringent as applesauce.
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