Summer Artichoke Pasta Salad
Digestible Dietitian Bites
By: Denice Hynd RD, MPH
Images by: Brianda Younggren, MPH
Throughout our lifespan, constipation can occur due to changes in our diet, changes in our emotional regulation, the intake of medications, through a decrease in movement and through an overall decline in muscle strength and gut motility.
Although there are hundreds of prescribed stool softeners and laxatives available to us, it is best to identify all possible natural therapies before opting for a prescription or over the counter regimen. Specifically, in PD, we have a systematically decrease in nerve function, which also affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Consider these changes in your diet and lifestyle prior to seeking medical treatment.
Fiber from Food
Fiber! It’s our favorite “F” word in the nutrition-world! Fiber is the non-digestible portion of plant materials. Fruit, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, seeds all contain naturally occurring fiber. Some of the greatest contributors of fiber include artichokes, prunes, pears, avocado, lentils, flax, and chia seeds. Prunes are often the celebrities of relieving constipation; this is due the natural presence of sorbitol – a sugar alcohol that offers mild laxatives affects.
Fiber from food is the gold-standard in terms of fiber choices. Of course, the supermarkets flood their shelves with manufactured fiber containing snack foods such as fiber bars, fiber chips, fiber crackers, fiber cereals, and new on the menu: fiber beverages! Along the supplement aisle you’ll also find fiber supplements in capsules, pills, tablets, powders, effervescent tabs, shakes and liquid shots.
Fiber from food not only contains the fiber in its original form, it is also bound by water which work in sync to alleviate constipation. Food also contains minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, which are all necessary to maintain immunity and to support general wellness. Lastly, food-fiber allows us to enjoy it as a part of our meals – it allows us to share our fiber-rich recipes with friends and family!
How much fiber should I have?
The current recommendation is to aim for 25-35 grams of fiber per day.
What if I can’t eat that much fiber from food?
Chia seeds and flax seeds can be added to soups, yogurt, and shakes. They are excellent sources of fiber yet take up little volume compared to chewing several cups of steamed broccoli. If you want a supplement alternative consult with your clinicians so they can guide you towards a product that is appropriate for you.
Are there any temporary options to relieve my symptoms of constipation?
Senna tea has been used for centuries to relieve constipation through its laxative affects. Use as directed, and always take at night when you don’t have anywhere to be the next morning. It is important to know how the tea will affect you prior to making plans outside of the home.
Recommendations to avoid constipation
Water-water-water! Divide your body weight in half, and this will give you an average amount of water your body needs (in ounces) to function properly -Example: 160 pounds person/2 = 80 ounces of water/day
Move your lower body: walking, cycling whether stationary or outdoors are excellent activities to stimulate motility. If you’re unable to walk or cycle, consider seated leg lifts or chair assisted squats
Processed foods contain little-to-no fiber; avoid these as often as possible
Start your day with 2 tablespoons of chia or flax meal in 12 ounces of water or oatmeal
Belly massage, make a fist and trace a figure 8 around your belly button
Warm to hot liquids can assist elimination
Daily intake of probiotic containing foods: sauerkraut, natural yogurt, kefir, kimchi, tempeh
Summer Artichoke Pasta Salad
Recipe and Images by: Brianda Younggren, MPH 08/2022 - Recipe (makes 3-4 servings)
Recipe and Images by: Brianda Younggren, MPH
2 cans artichoke hearts packed in water or oil (drained)
1 bunch parsley chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced
2 cups cooked whole wheat spiral pasta
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
¼ cup prepared pesto
1-2 lemons juiced
Mix all ingredients into a bowl, serve as is or over a bed of greens!