The Best Smoothie for Constipation Relief - by Jenna Volpe RDN LD CLT - Whole-istic Living

The Best Smoothie for Constipation Relief

There’s nothing worse than sitting on the toilet, “wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and praying” for a bowel movement – only to keep waiting! (Or worse – playground pebbles…)  Either way, constipation is often a pain in the butt– literally, and figuratively.  If you’re in search of some natural ways to get relief and regularity, I highly recommend this smoothie for constipation!  It’s easy, tasty, and usually very effective. 😉

Disclaimer:  This is a general recipe (not clinically customized to you), with educational information. Please don’t use this recipe or information to replace of medical /nutritional advice from your treatment team!  

  • Always make sure to consult a doctor and functional dietitian nutritionist when navigating digestive issues of any kind, so you can receive custom guidelines and recipe ingredient modifications as needed.

Affiliate disclosure: This article contains affiliate links for a few products that we love and use often in my household.  As an Amazon Associate, if you make a purchase through any of my affiliate links, I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What is constipation?

“Constipation” is a fancy clinical way of saying you aren’t pooping enough!  You may also hear people with constipation say they’re “backed up” or having “sluggish digestion”.

Signs and symptoms

There are a few different tell-tale signs of constipation.  Since everyone is different, you may be experiencing a just few or many of the following:

  • Only a few bowel movements per week or less.
  • Bowel movements are hard, strained, and difficult and/or painful to pass.
  • Bowel movements are abnormally small and incomplete relative to the amount of food being consumed.
  • Your stools are impacted.
    • When your stools are “impacted”, some of the feces are hardened and stuck to the lining of your intestines/colon – so your bowel movements are not full and complete in diameter. 
      • Impacted stools are often normal length but abnormally thin. The diameter of the impacted stool is comparable to that of a pen, pencil or marker.

Types of constipation

Constipation can be acute (sudden-onset and temporary) or chronic (ongoing for many months/years). 

People with chronic constipation typically get diagnosed with a sub-type of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  

  • Those with hard-to-pass stools which are very dry and often accompanined by gas and bloating are classified as having constipation-predominant IBS (“IBS-C”).
  • It’s also possible to have mixed IBS (“IBS-M”) which means you’re not eliminaitng healthy amounts of stool but when you do, the stool is loose.

No matter what type of constipation you may have, everyone will likely agree: constipation is no picnic!

What causes it?

Constipation is a vague symptom which can be caused by any of the following (or something else, since this list isn’t exhaustive):

  • Adrenal insufficiency (1)
  • Delayed gastric emptying
  • Dehydration
  • Dysbiosis (an unhealthy balance of not enough “good” probiotic microbes and too many “bad” pathogenic microbes in the gut)
  • Dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal “HPA” axis – aka a mis-wired nervous system (2
  • Eating disorders / disordered eating
  • Holding in your poop despite feeling like you have to go (usually this is not by choice but rather in situations where you don’t have access to a bathroom!)
  • Hormonal imbalance (3)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Iron pills
  • Medication side effects
  • Not eating enough (if you don’t use it, you lose it! Digestively speaking, in this case.)
  • Not eating frequently enough 
  • Not enough fiber in the diet
  • Not enough fluids in the diet
  • Physical inactivity for prolonged periods of time
  • Pregnancy
  • Too much stress (4)
  • An underlying medical condition (i.e. a bowel obstruction, celiac disease, colorectal cancer, ileus, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or something else)

While this “constipation smoothie” will most likely help you to a certain degree, it’s still very important that you figure out and address the underlying root cause(s) of your constipation (with help from your medical team, as needed) so it doesn’t keep coming back or getting worse.

Knowing your root-cause(s) is not optional! Having clarity on why you’re constipated (since nothing happens for no reason!) will allow you to then reverse-engineer your complete gut repair roadmap, so you can address your constipation holistically from all angles.

Why address constipation holistically?

If you’re constipated, you’re also more likely to experience the following:

  • Acne (a correlation and a “chicken-or-the-egg” scenario) (5)
  • Anal fissures
  • Bloating
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Eczema
  • Gas
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Psoriasis
  • Stomach aches after eating
  • Leaky gut syndrome

This is because impacted stool sitting in the gut for prolonged periods of time is more likely to get fermented by gut microbes, and/or reabsorbed back into the body through the gut. 

This wreaks havoc not just on the gut lining itself but it places additional toxic burden on your liver, which would then have to deal with toxic waste particles that were supposed to get eliminated.

Since your liver and gut are also responsible for clearing out excess estrogen from the body, people with constipation are more prone to hormonal imbalance (usually resulting in estrogen dominance) and acne as a result of poor detoxification pathways left unchecked.

Needless to say, it’s important to address and manage your constipation holistically (naturally and from a root-cause level) sooner rather than later!

In the meantime, this smoothie (alongside a high-fiber diet with lots of fluids) could be a helpful place to start.

Constipation smoothie ingredients

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of natural remedies (functional foods) for constipation!  

  • Functional foods are foods which serve a specific function or purpose in the realm of nutrition and health.  

In this smoothie I’ve included a handful of different functional foods for the specific purpose of aiding in constipation relief.  Let’s briefly nerd out on those functional food ingredients, so you’ll have a better understanding of how and why this smoothie can help you.

Ingredients for constipation smoothie - flax seeds psyllium oat milk cold brew yogurt dates and prunes

Fiber

“Eat more fiber” is something most people with constipation are sick of hearing! But in many cases, while fiber isn’t the full answer to the constipation equation, getting enough fiber really can help and make a positive difference in bowel movements.

How much fiber?

Most women need at least 20 to 25 grams of fiber per day from fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and functional foods – while men need 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day most days.

Types of fiber

There are also two different types of fiber which both play an important role on gut health:

  1. Soluble fiber
  2. Insoluble fiber

Soluble fiber dissolves in water. 

  • Aside from helping to remove the “bad” type of cholesterol from the blood vessels (to be excreted), soluble fiber also serves as a wonderful prebiotic food which helps feed, nourish and foster the growth of “good” probiotic gut microbes that aid in digestion. (More on probiotics very soon!)

Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water, but it actually helps to increase transit time and add builk to stool.  

  • Believe it or not, an ideal healthy bowel movement is about 1 to 2 inches in diameter! Insoluble fiber plays a key role in making this happen for most people.

Fiber-rich functional foods

Each of the following “functional foods” provides a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber for optimal digestion…

Flax seed meal

Flax seeds are not just prebiotic foods (which help to feed the “good” beneficial probiotic microbes in the gut) – they also happen to be a great source of fiber!  Just one tablespoon of ground flax seeds provides almost 2 grams of fiber, mostly the soluble kind.

  • As added bonuses, ground flax seeds support the excretion of excess estrogen metabolites through the gut (through healthy bowel movements), and they also contain a special plant-based, heart-healthy omega-3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid (“ALA”).

It’s important that you use ground flax seeds (aka “flaxseed meal”) versus whole flax seeds.  This is because your gut can’t break down whole flax seeds – so you wouldn’t actually be getting any fiber from the inside of the seed!

Where to find flax seed meal

You can purchase already-ground flax seeds in the bulk aisle or supplement section of your local supermarket.

You can also order flax seeds online via Amazon’s Whole Foods market.

How to store flax

Since flax seeds contain unsaturated fats which can go rancid more quickly compared to saturated fats, I recommend storing ground flax seeds in a sealed container in your fridge or freezer.

Should you grind your own flax seeds?

While I choose to pick my battles and purchase already-ground flax seeds for convenience purposes, it’s totally possible to grind your own! Some people prefer this method because it’s fresher; the surface area of the inside of the flax seeds is enclosed and not exposed to air for nearly as long.

If you’d like to try grinding your own flax seeds, it’s easy enough!

How to grind your own flax seeds:
  1. Measure out the amount of flax seeds you’re using in your recipe.
  2. Grind in a coffee grinder for 1 to 2 minutes.

dissolving teaspoon of psyllium husks in oat milk - for constipation smoothie

Psyllium husks

Whole psyllium husks are often used to help add bulk to stool, because they’re a natural “functional food” source of soluble fiber.

Psyllium could be considered of a whole-food version of Metamucil in that psyllium husks swell when added to water.

A little (i.e. one teaspoon) will go a long way – especially for those who don’t typically eat a lot of fiber!

  • I first tried making this smoothie with 1 tablespoon of psyllium husks. Whoops! It didn’t go so well, because it turns out psyllium turns into a gel-like substance pretty quickly.  Too much psyllium will turn your smoothie into more of a pudding consistency and while it tasted fine, the texture wasn’t very smoothie-like.
How to add psyllium to your constipation smoothie

Measure out 1 teaspoon of whole psyllium husks, and dissolve it in a glass of liquid. (In this smoothie, I used oat milk but you can use any liquid!)

Too much fiber is not good!

Too much fiber too fast also isn’t going to help constipation – it will make it worse, especially if you aren’t drinking lots of fluids to help push the fiber through your gut! I was taught in school that going from “zero to 60” with fiber and not enough fluids can turn your stools into a cement-like paste in your gut.  So more is not better!

Where to find psyllium husks

 You can find any of these types of seeds/husks in the bulk nut & seed aisle, natural aisle, and/or the supplement section of most supermarkets.

How to store psyllium husks

As long as they’re in an airtight container, psyllium husks are considered “shelf stable” and can be kept in your pantry.

Basket of prunes

Prunes

Prunes are dried plums, which have been used anecdotally for hundreds of years to help remedy constipation naturally.  But did you know prunes in formal studies were actually demed to be just as effective as psyllium for treating constipation naturally?! (6)

As an added bonus, prunes are naturally sweet and pretty tasty.

In this smoothie, for obvious reasons, I’ve made sure to include a few prunes for your benefit!

Where to find them: You can find dried prunes at pretty much any local supermarket, in the dried fruit section.

Bowl of Medjool dates

Dates

Dates add an extra natural sweetness and boost of fiber to this recipe.  From a culinary standpoint, dates are also very synergistic with prunes!

Aside from being nature’s candy, dates are also naturally very nutrient-dense and rich in fiber. (Bonus!)  

  • Pro-tip:  I recommend using Medjool dates if possible because of their extra delicious, dessert-like taste and texture.
  • Dates are high in fructose and FODMAPS, so you may want to swap this for real maple syrup if you’re dealing with a fructose intolerance and/or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth / “SIBO”.

Probiotics

Probiotics (healthy microbes that live in the gut) help us to digest our food more easily, and they also nourish and support the cells that make up the gut wall.

Probiotics are a little-known but very important pillar of addressing constipation in that most people who experience constipation are deficient in certain strains of “good” bacteria. (This state is also often referred to as “dysbiosis”.)

Long story short, adding even just a few spoonfuls of a tasty probiotic-rich funcitonal food into this smoothie can go a long way!  Especially when combined with prebiotic flax seeds which help to feed the beneficial microbes.

Small bowl of yogurt with a dollop in wooden spoon on table with red and white checkered cloth napkin

Yogurt

Yogurt is my probiotic food of choice.  You can go with a dairy option or a dairy-free option if you find that dairy is binding for you.  I’ve mentioned a few of my favorite go-to yogurt brands below for your refernece:

  • Plain dairy-based yogurt of choice
  • Plain or flavored:
    • Culina
    • Coco-Yo
    • Coconut cult
    • Siggi’s

Where to find dairy-free yogurt:  Most of the above options are available at most supermarkets in the refrigerated aisle with other yogurt nowadays.  

  • If you’re going for a more specialty version of dairy-free yogurt, you’ll need to look at Whole Foods or a natural food store near you.

Fluids

Getting enough fluids is a critical component of healthy bowel movements!  While coffee does count as fluid, a little unsweetened milk substitute goes along way to boost hydration.

Unsweeteend milk substitute of choice

Regular milk works well/fine for some but not most people with IBS and constipation.  In most cases, I find dairy products tend to be more binding which isn’t ideal for a constipation smoothie!

The creaminess of a good milk alternative also helps to soften the bitterness of the coffee by tying it together with the naturally sweet prunes and dates.

For the purpose of optimizing your outcomes, I recommend giving one of the following unsweetened dairy-free milk alternatives a try for your constipation smoothie:

  • Almond milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Oat milk
  • Pecan milk
  • Walnut milk

Herbs for constipation and regularity

There are technically dozens of different herbs for constipation (due to their laxative-like effects in the colon).  But most of them don’t taste good!  That said, I’ve chosen to just include coffee in this particular smoothie recipe. (Trust me – more is not always better!) 😉

Glass of cold brew coffee next to some whole coffee beans

Coffee

Coffee naturally stimulates motility in the colon (7), and it its flavor goes great with all the other ingredients.  

In this smoothie we use cold brew coffee which pairs well with the prunes and dates, giving you a frappuccino-like experience and of course a nice pick-me-up!

  • Pro-tip:  If you’re sensitive to caffeine and you don’t want to be up all night with racing thoughts and swirling ideas, you may want to have this smoothie in the morning versus the afternoon/evening!

Step-by-step directions

  1. Remove pits from dates and prunes; soak them in the cold brew coffee for at least 4 hours in advance, and leave refrigerated.
  2. Measure out remaining ingredients.
  3. Dissolve psyllium husks in oat milk.
  4. Blend all ingredients in a blender, Vitamix, NutriBullet or Magic Bullet on medium to high speed, for a few minutes, until smooth.
  5. Enjoy!

Tips

You may want to spend the next couple hours near a bathroom, since this smoothie is designed to reduce your digestive transit time and increase bulk in your stools.  You might also want to try having this smoothie in the morning since it contains caffeine from the coffee.

Anecdotally, I recommend enjoying this smoothie on an empty stomach (before or between meals) for maximum effect!

The Best Smoothie for Constipation Relief - by Jenna Volpe RDN LD CLT - Whole-istic Living

Constipation Smoothie

Prep Time 4 hrs
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 4 hrs 5 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 person

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Small bowl for soaking dates and prunes in advance
  • Glass or mason jar for dissolving the psyllium in liquid
  • Blender, Ninja, Vitamix, or Magic Bullet

Ingredients
  

  • 3/4 cup cold brew coffee
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened milk substitute of choice I used Rise oat milk
  • 2 tbsp plain yogurt of choice
  • 2 pitted Medjool dates pitted
  • 2 pitted prunes
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds / flax meal
  • 1 teaspoon psyllium
  • 1 ice cube optional

Instructions
 

At least 4 hours in advance...

  • Remove pits from dates and prunes.
  • Soak pitted dried fruit in the cold brew coffee, cover and refrigerate.

When ready to make...

  • Dissolve the psyllium husks in the oat milk.
  • Add all remaining ingredients into blender of choice.
  • Blend on low, then increase speed up to high, and blend for a few minutes or until it has become a smoothie consistency.
  • Enjoy and drink as needed!

Notes

This smoothie contains caffeine, so you may want to drink this in the morning in case the caffeine keeps you up at night.
This smoothie may kick in right away, or it may take a few days of consistency for this smoothie to get going in your system. You may want to be near a bathroom just in case!
I highly recommend taking this smoothie before or between meals, so it can kick in faster.
 
Keyword best smoothie for constipation, constipation, constipation smoothie, smoothie, smoothie for constipation
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Additional IBS-C resources 

If you found this article helpful and interesting, and you’d like to learn more about herbs and probiotics for constipation, IBS, and leaky gut, feel free to check out the following articles and recipe posts:

More smoothie recipes

If you love smoothies and you enjoyed this recipe, you may also love to try some of my other smoothie recipes:

Final thoughts and next steps

Constipation is no picnic! But the good news is it’s figureoutable – as long as you know why you’re constipated (from a holistic, root-cause level of understanding).

The special combination of fiber-rich functioal foods, probiotics, fluids, and specific colon-stimulating herbs in this specific smoothie for constipation will likely leave you feeling better sooner rather than later.  

At the same time, this recipe is not meant to replace medical nutrition advice. Make sure you’re working with your doctor and registered dietitian to address and resolve your constipation issues holistically.

Free Live Masterclass - The 6 Pillars of Complete Gut Repair

Lastly, make sure to share this recipe post with someone else you know who is currently riding the Constipation Struggle Bus!