Is Oatmeal Good For Constipation? July 1, 2016

Are you suffering from frequent constipation? Wondering if there is a simple food that can help treat this condition? Then oats are something you must have!

Why? This post has the answers. Read on to know more!

Ways To Tackle Constipation

You can resort to various ways to cope with constipation. There is no shortage of OTC laxative medications available in syrup, tablet or gel form that you can use. However, it is prudent that you make changes to your diet and start eating foods that facilitate a healthy bowel movement. A majority of people suffering from constipation are advised to eat oatmeal to ease their condition.

Why To Use Oatmeal For Constipation?

It is not without reason that medical experts and diet specialists ask people to eat oatmeal. It does help you resolve constipation and also aids in various other ways to stay healthy. It is easy to digest and full of vital nutrients that the human body requires.

Is oatmeal good for constipation? Oatmeal contains a good amount of insoluble fiber (1). This aids in the digestion process. Fiber present in oatmeal helps in bowel movements and soaks water from the fluids you drink. As a result, the chance of hard and dry stool formation is nearly eliminated. Bulky and soft stool passes through the colon easily.

On an average, a cup of regular oatmeal made with water contains about 5 grams of fiber. This comprises of soluble fiber that lowers cholesterol, and insoluble fiber that aids digestion and bowel movements. While you get fiber from some fruits and vegetables, eating oatmeal is a good way to fulfil a significant part of the daily fiber intake. Fiber-rich foods are also good for cardiac health.

[ Read: Is Prune Juice An Effective Remedy For Constipation? ]

Who Can Eat Oatmeal To Get Rid Of Constipation?

Apart from infants who have not started taking solid or semi-solid foods and people who are allergic to oats, nearly everyone can eat oatmeal.

1. Kids And Teens

Teens of varying ages often suffer from constipation. Their preference for junk foods, irregular eating cycles and lack of fluid intake make them constipated. You can give oatmeal to a kid or teen suffering from constipation. Nowadays, instant oatmeal is available in various flavours, and those may appeal to the kids. However, you may also prepare oat in the traditional way.

2. Adults

Adults can develop constipation for a number of reasons just like kids. They can include oatmeal in breakfast or have it at other times of the day to ease constipation.

3. Pregnant Women

Pregnancy induces a lot of physiological changes in the human body. Apart from weight gain, mood swings, a pregnant woman can also suffer from constipation at times. This is caused mostly owing to excessive secretion of progesterone hormone, which makes the digestive tract muscles more relaxed. The pressure of the fetus grows on the rectum region as well. The bowel movement slows down as a result. Some women take iron supplements during pregnancy, which hardens the bowel and leads to constipation. These women should eat oatmeal for hassle free bowel movement (2).

4. Infants

Infants can also develop constipation at times. This happens mostly when you introduce solid foods to an infant. An infant used to breastfeeding and liquid diet can develop constipation when solid foods are suddenly introduced in his or her meals. Solid foods are hard to digest for an infant’s stomach. Some paediatricians think feeding babies oatmeal over rice cereal is better, since the former is a nice laxative.

5. The Elderly Lot

A lot of elderly women and men develop digestive problems and suffer from constipation. For them, eating oatmeal is an easy and suitable way to ease the discomfort. Eating oatmeal also enables their body to soak in the nutrients easily.

[ Read: Effective Home Remedies To Cure Constipation ]

Choosing The Right Type Of Oatmeal To Resolve Constipation

While eating oatmeal will help you eradicate constipation and obtain several health benefits, it is important that you choose the right type of oats. The variety available in the market can leave you somewhat baffled! Explore the options and compare them to pick the aptest variant. Keep in mind, however, that any oat you buy undergoes some processing.

1. Instant Oatmeal

A lot of people opt for instant oatmeal variants, especially those adults leading hectic lives or those parents who have finicky kids suffering from constipation. The convenience of instant oatmeal is undeniable. However, diet experts say these variants are less suitable from an overall health perspective. They are steamed and pressed by the manufacturers, and so require less time in preparing. The downside is that instant oatmeal gets dissolved faster, and this makes it high on the glycemic index (3). Nutritionists say that foods high in glycemic index result in a surge in blood sugar levels, which is followed by a dip. These oatmeal variants do not keep you full for long though they act as laxative agents.

2. Steel-Cut Oats

Steel-cut oats, also known as Irish oatmeal, is made with whole-grain kernels. The manufacturers use sharp steel blades to cut the whole-grain kernels. This type of oatmeal scores low on glycemic index. As a result, it raises blood sugar levels at a slower pace. You can stay full for longer and also get the benefits for digestion and bowel movements eventually. People love steel cut oats for their delicious flavour, taste and texture as well.

3. Old-Fashioned Oats

This type of oatmeal is made by the age old steaming and rolling technique. The benefit is that they are easy to cook and also low on the glycemic index. These oats contain more fiber than other variants, thereby aiding the digestion process in the best way possible. Also, you will not get artificial flavours in them.

Oatmeal Cooking Tips To Ease Constipation

It is important that you prepare oatmeal the right way to preserve nutrition and ease constipation. Below listed are a few handy tips:

  • Sometimes, finding traditionally prepared oatmeal can be difficult. In most regions, instant oatmeal brands flood the market. If you cannot find traditional or steel cut oats, do not lose heart. It is possible to lower the glycemic index in instant oats by adding skimmed milk while preparing.
  • You can also make up for the lack of enough fiber in instant oatmeal variants. Add some fiber rich fruits in the oatmeal before serving. Adding banana and berries will be a prudent option in this regard. This will make the dish tastier too.
  • For those who have access to steel cut oatmeal, but do not have time for cooking everyday, there is a solution. You can cook the oats on Sunday night in large amounts. Store the cooked oatmeal in the refrigerator and re-heat for the next few days. It would be a good idea to use microwave to both prepare the oatmeal and reheat it as and when required.
  • When buying instant oatmeal at malls or departmental stores, look at the list of ingredients with care. You may be thinking about buying a strawberry flavoured oat pack to offer your kid who likes the flavour and suffers from constipation often. However, take a glance at the ingredients and see how much sugar is used in it. As it is, oatmeal makers add sugar in the forms of maple syrup, brown sugar and corn syrup in their products. It enhances the taste, but lessens the health benefits to an extent.
  • To enhance the flavour and taste of traditionally prepared oats, you can pour some honey in it. Refrain from using any artificial flavour or sweetener though. You may add some peanut butter or a dash of chocolate at times for sure.
  • To make oatmeal enjoyable and easy to digest, use the right amount of water or milk. When you cook steel-cut oats, it is prudent to use a cup of water to cook 1/4 cup of oats. For cooking instant oats, using 1 cup of water for half cup oats should be fine.
  • At times, you may think of using other fluids other than water to make oatmeal tastier, especially when giving it to kids for resolving constipation. Using low-fat milk is an option and some people also pour in apple cider vinegar.
  • If your kids love nuts, you may add some chopped fresh nuts to oatmeal to add to the taste and nutrient quotient. Be a little experimental and add frozen berries, dry fruits, sliced fruits and toasted nuts. Using a small amount of apple sauce is also okay. You may mix these ingredients atop traditionally prepared oatmeal and the kids will not grudge about lack of flavour or taste! It is a nice idea to roast or grind herbs like cinnamon and cardamom and sprinkle these on top of oats before serving.
  • You will find plenty of recipes online nowadays to prepare oats in numerous ways. Some people choose it to make cakes instead of using refined flour. Just search on the web for such innovative oat recipes. You will be amazed at the number of recipes and possibilities.

[ Read: Juices To Treat Constipation ]

Points To Keep In Mind

Eating oatmeal, whether it is steel cut or traditionally made, will help you avoid constipation, but you also need to do something additional for the best results, say health and diet experts. Fiber needs enough water to soak in and this helps make bowel movement easier. So, when you consume oatmeal daily, do not forget to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and other healthy beverages to let the fiber in oats work as desired. Additionally, you should work out so that your digestive tract is stimulated to pass the bowel smoothly.

Is There Any Side Effect Of Eating Oatmeal?

In general, eating oatmeal is deemed safe, even during pregnancy – owing to its ease of digestion and plethora of nutrients. However, you need to be careful about a few aspects, say the health experts.

  • Those suffering from diabetes should avoid taking flavoured oatmeal variants. These products contain artificial sugar and flavours.
  • At times, eating excess oatmeal that is not cooked properly can actually lead to intestinal blockage. It is ironical that oatmeal, which aids in resolving constipation, can lead to constipation in this situation.
  • Sometimes, eating oatmeal can lead to gluten sensitivity. Usually, oatmeal does not have gluten in it. At times it is harvested in fields with close proximity to wheat and barley. This increases the risk of oats getting contaminated with gluten. Gluten contamination may lead to allergic responses in some people. It can affect babies as well. Symptoms of baby oatmeal contamination are diarrhoea, bloating, and pain in joints.
  • Oats contain purines, which lead to kidney stone development in some instances. So, people with kidney stones or gout should eat oatmeal in moderation. They should opt for other laxatives to ease constipation.

Mistakes To Avoid While Making Oatmeal

  • While making oatmeal with milk, some people end up creating a sticky mess! To evade it, add some water to the pan. Heat it and add oats. After a while, pour in some milk and add seasonings. This will help make the smooth, creamy texture.
  • Do not cook oatmeal, either with water or milk on high flame. This will result in oats getting burnt at the bottom of the bowl and dishwashing will be a pain.
  • When adding spices and herbs for use, do not forget to grind them well.

Have you ever used oatmeal for constipation relief? With a dozen health benefits to their name, don’t oats draw your attention? Easy to make, easy to digest, and so yummilicious, oats are a superfood you should include in your daily diet, today!

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