One of the markers of good health is the ability to have regular bowel movements. Yet, there’s no denying the fact that the very condition can become a painful experience to some if they suffer from constipation. There are many over-the-counter laxatives that help constipation, but they are all temporary solutions. In the long run, it is important to root out the cause of constipation to lead a healthy life. One way of combating constipation is to add fiber-rich foods to one’s diet. To begin with, let us take a look at oatmeal as a natural way to deal with constipation.
Oatmeal For Constipation – Yay or Nay
There are many conflicting views about the effects of consuming oatmeal. Some believe it helps relieve constipation whereas others believe it to be an actual cause of constipation. In the middle of this debate came a surprising answer in the form of a study. According to this study that was published in February 2015 in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, consuming oatmeal has many health benefits. Oatmeal helps lower blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol levels, and helps you to maintain a healthy weight. Not only that, but it is also easy on your digestive tract and keeps it active. With all these benefits, we can safely conclude that oatmeal can in fact help relieve constipation1.
How Oatmeal Helps Relieve Constipation
As discussed earlier, eating a high-fiber diet is one of the ways to keep constipation at bay. Oatmeal is a high-fiber food. However, it has two types of fibers namely soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps to bind stool by attracting water and turning it into a gel. This kind of fiber is really beneficial for those who might be experiencing a bout of diarrhea.
The insoluble fiber adds bulk to the poop thereby making it easier to push through the digestive tract. Thus, insoluble fibers help you get regular bowel movements sans constipation. Since oatmeal contains both types of fiber, this makes it an ideal food to combat constipation 2.
Types Of Oats
Once you decide to include oats into your diet, it makes sense to understand the different types of oats, their benefits as well disadvantages to help you choose wisely. Here are the most widely used types of oats, especially those who are health and fitness freaks.
As the name suggests, these oats are manufactured by cutting the whole grain kernels with sharp steel blades. It is considered the best among oats by dieticians as it packs all the benefits of oats. These oats keep you full for a longer time, give you a better digestion experience and make your bowel movements regular. Steel-cut oats also stand out for their delicious flavor, taste, and a distinct texture. And the best part is that you’ll need just half the amount of steel-cut oats to meet the same dietary fiber needs that other varieties provide one whole amount.
On the flip side though, steel-cut oats take a longer time to cook compared to other varieties. At times, they might also taste a tad bland to some and require additional flavor enhancing with the likes of cinnamon or honey. Nevertheless, considering the fact that its benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, steel-cut oats are still worth all this. To overcome the slow-cooking issue, cook it in large quantities and refrigerate the extra quantity for future use, which you can do by simply reheating it.
Rolled Oats or Old-Fashioned Oats
If you do not like the taste of steel-cut oats, then the second best option would be to use rolled oats or old-fashioned oats. These oats are produced by an old method of steaming and rolling techniques. These types of oats also provide you fullness and flavor, but a little less compared to steel-cut oats. However, they are also comparatively easy to cook, contain sufficient amounts of fiber, and do not contain artificial flavoring. They aid in digestion and help with regular bowel movements if consumed consistently. Since they quick faster, you’ll find a plethora of recipes for rolled oats. They also taste equally good in smoothies that do not require cooking. Rolled oats soaked in milk overnight is also a popular no-cook breakfast option.
This one is a favorite among those leading a hectic lifestyle or do not have the patience or skills to cook. Students, singles working in big cities, or modern-day working couples who wish to whip up a quick snack at odd hours. These oats come in a variety of flavors and are easy to cook – at times requiring less than 10 minutes to be ready to eat. It is also a healthier snacking option compared to other fried or ‘instant’ foods. The palatable taste of instant oats makes it a favorite among fussy eaters as well as kids. Compared to the other two varieties, instant oats are also comparatively cheaper and easily available.
Despite its obvious advantages, instant oatmeals score very low from a nutrition point of view. Although they might act like a laxative, they fail to keep you full for a longer time. The additional flavors in the instant oats are often made of artificial sources. They are also par-cooked due to which unusual amounts of sugars and salts are used as preservatives. All this may not be good for overall health in the long run. Thus, if you wish to consider this variety of oats to get over your constipation, then let us tell you that it is not the right choice.
The Right Way To Make Oatmeal
We now know the benefits of oatmeal and how it can help relieve constipation. But you can reap those benefits only if oatmeal is cooked in the right manner. Here we tell you how you can do that and common mistakes to avoid.
Measure It Right – one of the most common mistakes people often commit while cooking oatmeal is not measuring the quantity as per given instructions. This leads to an undesirable outcome that makes the oatmeal unpalatable. By now you know the different kinds of oatmeal and the amount they take to get done. So make sure you diligently follow the instructions given on the pack.
Don’t Take The Milky Way – another common mistake that messes up a good oatmeal dish is cooking them directly in milk. Milk tends to condense and burn easily. If you wish to make a dish with milk, then it is important to cook it in water. First, boil the water and then add the oats. Once they are 90% done, add the desired amount of milk. You can either make it like a thick porridge or diluted like kheer – oatmeals with milk taste good either way.
Be Patient – this especially applies to the non-instant variety of oatmeal. Be patient while cooking oats. Always cook them on medium to low flame. Cooking oatmeal on high flame will lead to the evaporation of the water and eventually burning. The oatmeal will also remain undercooked and raw.
Have you too been considering oatmeal to relieve constipation, lately? Now that you’ve got the answer, go ahead and whip up some delicious recipes with it. While you relish it, be rest assured that it’ll soon be time to bid goodbye to your constipation woes!