Do you suffer 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.
Oats – A Brief
Scientific Name – Avena sativa
Origin – East Europe
Other Names – Jai (Hindi), Javie (Punjabi), and Joi (Bengali)
The world’s greatest breakfast. A food for the greatest. These are only a few of the phrases associated with this amazing food grain.
What makes this grain so special?
Oatmeal is the American name of the hulled oat grains that are either cut, rolled or ground to make this power-packed breakfast meal. It is a whole grain. A type that is full of essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and B-vitamins.
This grain, whether steel-cut or rolled, is credited with a number of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, maintaining cardiovascular health, and preventing cancer and type II diabetes (1).
Apart from all of these, oatmeal can also make your bowel movements better. Let’s proceed to the next section to find out how!
Why Use Oatmeal For Constipation?
It is not without reason that medical experts and diet specialists ask people suffering from constipation to have oatmeal.
Why oatmeal, though?
Oatmeal contains a good amount of insoluble fiber (2). This aids the digestion process. The fiber present in oatmeal aids bowel movements and soaks water from the fluids you drink. As a result, any chances of hard and dry stool formation are nearly eliminated. The fiber adds bulk to your stool and enables it to pass through the colon easily.
On an average, a cup of regular oatmeal 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 fulfill a significant part of the daily fiber intake. Fiber-rich foods are also good for cardiac health.
So, all in all, oatmeal relieves constipation and also aids better health in various other ways. It is easy to digest and full of vital nutrients that your body requires.
But picking the right variety of oatmeal is also essential to get instant relief from constipation. Read on to know how you can do so.
Choosing The Right Type Of Oatmeal To Relieve Constipation
Oatmeal will relieve constipation and impart several health benefits. But, it is important you choose the right type of oats. The huge variety available in the market can leave you baffled. Explore the options and compare them to pick the most appropriate variant. Keep in mind, however, that any pack of oats you buy has surely undergone some processing.
1. Steel-Cut Oats
Steel-cut oats, also known as Irish oatmeal, are made with whole grain kernels. The manufacturers use sharp steel blades to cut the whole grain kernels. A favorite amongst dietitians for its immense health benefits.
- This type of oats has a low glycemic index. As a result, it increases the blood sugar levels at a slower pace.
- You can stay full for longer and also experience better digestion and bowel movement. People love steel-cut oats for their delicious flavor, taste, and texture.
- The best part is that you need to have exactly half the amount as the other two varieties to get the same amount of fiber.
- They take a while to cook, approximately twice the time we need to cook instant oatmeal.
- Can be a little bland. To enhance the flavor and taste of traditionally prepared oats, you can add some honey. Refrain from using any artificial flavor or sweetener. You may add some peanut butter or a dash of chocolate at times.
Bottom Line – Go for it. The steel-cut variety is definitely a keeper for those who often suffer from constipation.
Tip: For those who have access to steel-cut oatmeal, but do not have time to cook it every day, here’s a solution. You can cook the oats on Sunday night in large amounts. Store the cooked oatmeal in the refrigerator and reheat it for the next few days. It is a good idea to use a microwave to prepare the oatmeal as well as reheat it as and when required.
2. Old-Fashioned Oats
These oats are made by the age-old steaming and rolling technique.
- They are easy to cook and also have low glycemic index.
- They contain more fiber than the other variants, thereby aiding better digestion. Also, they do not have artificial flavors added.
They are amazing but fall a little short when compared to the steel-cut variety.
Bottom Line – The second best choice in the list. Go for old-fashioned oats if you can’t find the steel-cut ones.
3. Instant Oatmeal
The convenience of instant oatmeal is undeniable.
A lot of people opt for instant oatmeal variants, especially those leading hectic lives or parents who have finicky kids suffering from constipation.
Cheap, easy to make, and easily available at every supermarket.
- Diet experts say these variants are less suitable from an overall health perspective.
- They are partially cooked and contain additives like sugar, salt, etc.
- Instant oatmeal gets dissolved faster, and this makes it high in glycemic index (3). Nutritionists say that foods high in glycemic index cause a surge in the blood sugar levels, which is followed by a dip.
- This oatmeal variant does not keep you full for long though it acts as a laxative agent.
Bottom Line – Do not use instant oatmeal if you want relief from constipation.
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. You can make this variety fit to cure constipation by following some steps. Take a look:
- It is possible to lower the glycemic index of instant oats by adding skimmed milk while preparing.
- You can also make up for the lack of fiber in instant oatmeal variants. Add some fiber-rich fruits, such as bananas and berries, to the oatmeal before serving. This will also make the dish tastier.
- Take a glance at the ingredients and see how much sugar is added. As it is, oatmeal makers add sugar in the forms of maple syrup, brown sugar, and corn syrup in their products. They enhance the taste but lessen the health benefits to a considerable extent.
You can also make old-fashioned oatmeal. Here’s how.
How To Make Oatmeal To Cure Constipation
Here’s a small and easy recipe to make the old-fashioned oatmeal:
You Will Need
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon butter (unsalted)
- Toppings of your choice
What You Need To Do
- Take a small saucepan and add all the ingredients to it (apart from the toppings, of course!).
- Cook slowly on medium flame. Don’t forget to stir the mixture at intervals.
- Bring it to a boil. Take a spatula and check if the mixture has softened or not with it.
- Cook till the mixture looks creamy and thick. Add more milk or water if you desire a thinner meal.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl and top it with berries and fruits of your choice. You can add ground spices too if you want.
- Your tasty and healthy oatmeal is ready! Eat while it is hot.
Merely knowing how to make oatmeal isn’t enough. You also need to know the right way to do so so that you derive the maximum benefits. Read on to know more.
Constipation Woes – How To Make Oatmeal The Right Way
It is important that you prepare oatmeal the right way to preserve its nutrition and ease constipation. Listed below are a few handy tips:
- Quantity Is The Key – To make oatmeal enjoyable and easy to digest, use the right amount of water or milk. For steel-cut oats, use a cup of water to cook 1/4 cup of oats. For instant oats, using 1 cup of water for half cup oats should be fine.
- Experiment With The Base – At times, you might want to explore different options to make the oatmeal tastier, especially when giving it to kids. You can use low-fat milk in such cases. Some people also pour in apple cider vinegar.
- Avoid The Milky Mess – While making oatmeal with milk, some people end up creating a sticky mess. To avoid it, add some water to the pan. Heat it and add oats. After a while, pour some milk and add seasonings to it to make it smooth and creamy.
- Fruits And Nuts? Why Not! – If your kids love nuts, you may add some chopped fresh nuts to the oatmeal to add to its taste and nutrient quotient. Get experimental and add frozen berries, dry fruits, sliced fruits, and toasted nuts. You can also use a small amount of applesauce. Your kids will surely not complain about the lack of flavor or taste. It is a good idea to roast or grind herbs like cinnamon and cardamom and sprinkle them on top of oats before serving.
- Do Not Rush – Do not cook oatmeal, either with water or milk, on a high flame. The oats at the bottom of the bowl will get burnt, and dishwashing will be a pain.
You will find plenty of recipes online to prepare oats in numerous ways. Some people use it instead of refined flour to make cakes. Just search the web for such innovative oat recipes. You will be amazed at the number of recipes and possibilities. So, what are you waiting for? Try your own version of oatmeal today!
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.
Infants can also develop constipation at times. This happens mostly when you introduce them to solid foods. An infant used to breast milk and a 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. However, some pediatricians feel that it is better to feed babies oatmeal instead of rice cereal since the former is a nice laxative.
2. Kids And Teens
Teens 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 flavors, and those may appeal to kids. However, you may also prepare oats in the traditional way.
Adults can develop constipation for a number of reasons. They can include oatmeal in their breakfast or have it at other times of the day to ease constipation.
4. Pregnant Women
Pregnancy induces a lot of physiological changes in the human body. Apart from weight gain and mood swings, a pregnant woman can also suffer from constipation at times. This is due to the excessive secretion of progesterone, which makes the digestive tract muscles more relaxed. The pressure of the fetus increases on the rectum as well and, as a result, the bowel movement slows down. Some women take iron supplements during pregnancy, which hardens the bowel and leads to constipation. These women should eat oatmeal for a hassle-free bowel movement (4).
A lot of elderly women and men develop digestive problems and suffer from constipation. Having oatmeal is an easy and suitable way to ease their discomfort. It also enables their body to soak in the nutrients easily.
A Word Of Caution
In general, oatmeal is deemed safe for consumption, even during pregnancy – owing to its ease of digestion and plethora of nutrients. However, you need to be cautious about a few aspects.
- Those who have diabetes should avoid flavored oatmeal variants. These products contain artificial sugar and flavors.
- At times, eating excess oatmeal that is not cooked properly can actually lead to intestinal blockage. It is ironical that oatmeal, which relieves 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 that are near wheat and barley crops. This increases the risk of oats getting contaminated with gluten. Gluten contamination may lead to allergic responses in some people and can affect babies as well. Symptoms of baby oatmeal contamination are diarrhea, bloating, and pain in joints.
- Oats contain purines that can lead to kidney stone development in some instances. So, people with kidney stones or gout should eat oatmeal in moderate quantities. They should opt for other laxatives to ease constipation.
Eating oatmeal, whether it is steel-cut or traditionally made, will help you avoid constipation, but you also need to do something more to obtain the best results. Here are a few:
Other Ways To Limit Constipation Risk
- Fiber needs enough water to soak in, and this helps make the 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.
Easy to make, easy to digest, and so yummilicious, oats are a superfood you should include in your daily diet. Have you ever used oatmeal for constipation relief? Do let us know how it worked for you by commenting in the box given below.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Can oats be eaten raw?
Yes! Oats can be consumed raw. But it is not generally recommended, especially if you are constipated or have a weak digestive system. Roasting is an option. But if you want to eat them raw, progress slowly. Begin with a really small amount, and increase the quantity gradually. Having water or juice with raw oats will help lubricate the rough meal so that it doesn’t harm your insides.
Does oatmeal cause constipation?
Only if you go overboard with it. Oats are generally gut-friendly, but since they are laden with fiber, they can cause the opposite effect if taken in a large quantity over a large span of time.
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