Constipation is a common digestive issue that affects nearly everyone at some point. It occurs when stool passes through the large intestine too slowly, becoming hard, dry and difficult to pass. Constipation has many possible causes, including inadequate fiber, dehydration, lack of exercise, certain medications and various health conditions.
While constipation can be uncomfortable and frustrating, there are many natural remedies that can help get things moving again. One option that many people find effective is drinking fruit smoothies, particularly smoothies made with strawberries. But can a strawberry smoothie really help relieve constipation? Let’s take a closer look.
What Causes Constipation?
To understand if a strawberry smoothie can help constipation, it helps to first understand the underlying causes. Here are some of the most common reasons someone may become constipated:
- Not enough fiber – Fiber adds bulk to stool and helps it move through the intestines. A low-fiber diet can lead to constipation.
- Dehydration – Being dehydrated means there is less fluid in the colon to help stool pass easily. Drinking enough water is key.
- Lack of exercise – Being inactive can slow the muscular contractions that push stool along.
- Certain medications – Opioid pain medications, iron supplements and antacids can cause constipation as a side effect.
- Ignoring the urge – Not going when you feel the need to can cause stool to back up and dry out.
- Various health conditions – Diabetes, hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome and others can contribute to constipation.
- Stress and anxiety – Mental health issues may affect hormones and muscle contractions involved in elimination.
As you can see, lifestyle factors like diet, hydration, exercise and bathroom habits play a major role in constipation. Medical issues can also be involved. Understanding the root cause is helpful when finding the right relief strategy.
Why Strawberries May Help
So how could strawberries potentially help get things moving if you’re backed up? Here are some of the reasons:
- Fiber – Strawberries contain seeds and fiber in their edible skins, providing insoluble and soluble fiber.
- Fluids – Blending strawberries into a smoothie adds more fluids to help soften stool.
- Sorbitol – Strawberries naturally contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that acts as an osmotic laxative.
- Potassium – This mineral can help regulate muscle contractions and stimulate pooping.
- Natural sugars – The natural sugars in strawberries provide energy to fuel your system.
The fiber, fluid and sorbitol content make strawberries a particularly helpful fruit for relieving constipation. Their potassium and natural sugars can also aid the digestive process.
Benefits of a Strawberry Smoothie
Drinking a strawberry smoothie can provide a concentrated dose of the constipation-fighting nutrients in strawberries. Here are some of the top benefits of making a smoothie:
- Blending fruits breaks down fiber, making it easier to digest.
- You can consume more strawberries at once by blending them.
- Adding liquid makes a smoothie easier to drink quickly than eating whole fruits.
- You can customize smoothies with extra constipation-relieving ingredients.
- Smoothies provide an easy way to get nutrients first thing in the morning.
Overall, strawberry smoothies make it simple and convenient to get a substantial amount of fiber, fluid, potassium and sorbitol from strawberries. You can drink a smoothie relatively fast and get quick relief.
Other Constipation-Fighting Smoothie Ingredients
For maximum relief from constipation, you can add other beneficial ingredients besides just strawberries to your smoothie. Some great options include:
- Chia seeds – Just 1-2 tablespoons provides 10 grams of fiber.
- Ground flaxseed – Flax is rich in soluble fiber that absorbs water to soften stool.
- Prunes – Contain sorbitol and fiber. Can also simmer prunes in water first before adding to smoothie.
- Kiwi – Packed with fiber and vitamin C which aids iron absorption and prevents anemia-related constipation.
- Yogurt – Provides probiotics to support healthy digestion. Can use dairy or non-dairy yogurt.
- Wheat bran – Just a few teaspoons adds lots of insoluble fiber to promote regularity.
- Oats – Use quick oats or oat flour to add soluble and insoluble fiber.
Combining strawberries with any of these ingredients can provide an even bigger fiber and fluid boost to get constipation relief. Try different combinations to find your perfect smoothie recipe.
Ideal Smoothie Consistency
To get the most benefit for constipation, pay attention to the thickness of your smoothie. A smoothie that’s too thick can be difficult to drink quickly and reduce the fluid content. Here are some tips:
- Add enough liquid like water, juice or non-dairy milk to reach a drinkable consistency.
- Use frozen strawberries instead of ice to thicken without making it icy.
- If it gets too thick, thin it with extra liquid to make drinking easier.
- Avoid adding thickeners like protein powder, yogurt or nut butter.
Testing different liquid amounts and strawberry textures will help you find the right balance. Aim for a smoothie with a thick, milkshake-like consistency that’s not overly challenging to drink.
When to Drink a Strawberry Smoothie
Timing is an important factor when using a strawberry smoothie to address constipation. Here are some tips on when to drink it:
- First thing in the morning – Get nutrients before eating to stimulate digestion for the day.
- Between meals – Mid-morning or mid-afternoon are good times not to interfere with other food.
- Before bed – Can help alleviate constipation first thing when you wake up.
- After a workout – Physical activity can promote bowel movements.
Aim to drink a strawberry smoothie when your body has gone the longest without food or liquid. This allows the nutrients to work through your system when it’s more likely to be slowed down and backed up.
How Long It Takes to Work
It’s understandable to want quick relief when dealing with uncomfortable constipation. However, the effects of a strawberry smoothie may take some time. Here’s what to expect:
- Fiber and sorbitol effects take about 8-12 hours to reach the large intestine.
- You may feel some gas and rumbling within a few hours as digestion gets to work.
- It can take up to 3 days to fully resolve constipation, but should steadily improve.
- Make sure to keep drinking smoothies and staying hydrated for best results.
Even if the smoothie doesn’t provide an immediate bathroom trip, have patience and stick with it. The nutrients will make their way through to gently relieve constipation over hours or days in most cases.
Possible Side Effects
Drinking a strawberry smoothie is generally very safe and unlikely to cause issues. However, some possible side effects to be aware of include:
- Diarrhea – If you add too much sorbitol or fiber at once, it can lead to loose stools.
- Cramps – Sorbitol draws water into the intestines, which can cause cramping.
- Bloating – Some people may experience temporary bloating and gas from fiber intake.
- Allergies – Strawberries contain salicylates which can trigger reactions in sensitive individuals.
Start with small servings of a strawberry smoothie and increase slowly. This allows your body to adjust without overdoing it on fiber or sorbitol. Be sure to drink plenty of other fluids as well.
When to See a Doctor
A strawberry smoothie can be an effective natural remedy for occasional constipation caused by diet or lifestyle factors. However, if you experience the following, be sure to see your doctor:
- No improvement after a week of smoothies and lifestyle remedies
- Blood in stool
- Persistent abdominal pain and vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Constant straining and pain when trying to poop
These signs may indicate an underlying medical condition causing persistent constipation. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan from your physician.
Tips for Preventing Constipation
To help avoid trouble with constipation altogether, focus on these key prevention tips:
- Eat 25-35 grams of fiber per day
- Drink at least 8 glasses of fluids daily
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes most days
- Establish a regular bathroom routine
- Manage stress through meditation, yoga, etc.
- Avoid or limit foods that trigger constipation like cheese, eggs and meat.
Making fiber, fluid, exercise and routine bathroom habits a regular part of your lifestyle can keep your digestion running smoothly and prevent bouts of constipation.
Sample Strawberry Smoothie Recipes
Here are 3 delicious sample recipes to get your digestion on track:
Basic Strawberry Smoothie
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1 banana
- 1 cup non-dairy milk or water
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
Green Strawberry Power Smoothie
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 kiwi
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed
Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothie
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1/2 cup quick oats
- 1/2 banana
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 prunes
Feel free to get creative and try unique ingredient combinations to find your new go-to smoothie. Just be sure to always include plenty of hydrating liquid.
The Bottom Line
When you’re stopped up and want relief, a strawberry smoothie may be just what the doctor ordered. The fiber, fluids, sorbitol and nutrients in strawberries can work together to naturally help move things along in a gentle way. For best results, add other ingredients like chia seeds, flaxseed or prunes to amp up the constipation-fighting properties even more. Drink your smoothie first thing in the morning, between meals or before bed to give it time to work through your system. With this tasty approach, you should be feeling better in no time.
Here is a data table summarizing some key points:
|Why Strawberries May Help||Ideal Timing||Possible Side Effects|
|Fiber||First thing in the morning||Diarrhea|
|Potassium||After a workout||Allergic reactions|