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This delicious beet-based smoothie is a DIY remedy for constipation and a safe and effective way to detoxify the liver. While many foods may boast high fiber content, whether they actually relieve constipation is another matter. Like you, I was looking for a daily solution and immediate relief: how to fix constipation problems quickly and gently at home without supplements. Due to their high fiber content and unique ability to thin bile, beets help to flush out toxins, improve digestion and improve liver function, all while preventing constipation.
Fiber for constipation
Common advice for constipation includes consuming ingredients I haven’t found to be helpful, ingredients like fruit juices, prunes and flax. Other sites recommend ingredients I have found to be somewhat effective, ingredients like aloe, ginger, chia seeds and jicama.
When looking for a solution to this common health complaint, it’s helpful to understand some of the causes of constipation and also what roles different foods play.
Firstly, two kinds of fiber may help resolve constipation:
- Soluble fiber is found in many vegetables and fruits, including beans, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, dried figs and avocado. Soluble fiber increases stool bulk and attracts waste products to help with their elimination. Soluble fiber slows digestion and absorbs sugar in the bloodstream, helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber also has prebiotic benefits. Soluble fiber becomes gel-like as it digests, thus the name soluble. (I remember as a kid always having a great BM after a big bowl of oatmeal. That’s because oats are high in soluble fiber.) You can read more about soluble fiber here.
- Insoluble fiber is also found in produce. Insoluble fiber adds bulk and weighs down the stool. Waste from the GI tract is pushed and swept along. Unlike soluble fiber that dissolves into a gel, insoluble fiber remains solid and pushes toxins out with its mass. Many foods that are high in soluble fiber are also high in insoluble fiber, foods like beans and whole grains. I no longer eat beans or whole grains, so those foods are not helpful to me. Cooked turnips, okra and green peas each offer three grams of insoluble fiber per serving, but most of us don’t eat those foods daily. Beets come in next, in terms of their high fiber content, with two grams of insoluble fiber for half a cup. (source)
For a food to be considered “high fiber”, it needs to contain at least five grams of fiber per serving. We use at least one cup of cooked beets in this recipe, as you’ll see below, delivering a whopping dose of fiber and nutrition, as well as great flavor.
The smoothie recipe in this article is built on how well beets actually work to relieve constipation. Clients and family members I’ve worked with over the last few years have found beets to be the most helpful food to relieve their constipation.
Even foods high in insoluble fiber don’t necessarily relieve constipation. Relief is subjective, based on additional food qualities (such as the bioavailability of their nutrients), aspects of digestion (such as metabolism and gut microflora) and real life experience: Beets reliably work when other high fiber foods do not.
So what makes beets more than a great source of insoluble fiber? Why are beets so great at relieving constipation?
Full of iron, calcium, B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, manganese, antioxidants and specifically betanin, beets cleanse the liver. Beets improve liver function by increasing enzyme activity and thinning bile. Otherwise, bile can become sluggish or stagnant. Thinned bile is able to flow more freely through the liver and into the small intestine, absorbing toxins and heavy metals and ushering them out of the body.
Beets assist in the liver’s Phase 2 detoxification process. The rare betalain pigments in beets help to break down toxins that are bound to other molecules so they can be excreted from the body. Beets also exhibit major anti-inflammatory capabilities. (source and source)
Psyllium Husk Powder or Acacia Fiber
Depending on the nature of a person’s constipation, one other active ingredient helps to create this remedial smoothie: psyllium husk powder or acacia fiber.
Psyllium husk powder is 50% soluble fiber and 20% insoluble. Psyllium adds bulk and weight to stool and is great for those who feel they can never quite “get it all out”. I personally started with 1/2 a teaspoon in my daily beet smoothies and found this to be the right amount. Too much psyllium can harden stools too much.
My doctor reminded me that psyllium is safe and gentle, but it’s very important to buy organic psyllium, because it absorbs toxins. Find organic psyllium husk powder here.
Acacia fiber is a prebiotic food, helpful to those with IBS, diarrhea or constipation who want to improve their colon ecosystem over time. Acacia fiber is recommended at a dose of 1/2 a teaspoon to start, with two weeks given for the body to adjust before gradually increasing dosage. The instructions for use and improving gut mobility are well dictated from this company.
Both psyllium husk powder and acacia fiber may be used together in this smoothie for their different roles and benefits.
Ginger is another key ingredient in this recipe, although it’s optional if you follow some of the variations. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and great for digestion. Ginger supports healthy bile production and the elimination of toxins. Bile also helps to digest fat.
Ginger’s spicy flavor tastes great and compliments the sweet earthiness of beets.
Cooked or Raw Ingredients?
Cooked or raw? Cooked foods are actually very nutritious and gentler to digest. Raw foods are often harsh on our digestive tract and less nutritious (because our bodies can’t access the nutrients).
Cooked is best with beets too! In the recipe below, I show you how.
Potential causes of constipation
Various causes of constipation include:
- Iron supplements
- Hashimoto’s or hypothyroid disease
- Gut dysbiosis (which can include many other issues like reduced bile production or a colon ecosystem that would benefit from prebiotics)
- Impeded detox pathways and/or sluggish lymphatic system
- Deficient glutathione
- Mineral deficiency
- Magnesium deficiency
- Hormone imbalance
- Reduced organ function
- A diet too high in Vitamin A (read more about this here)
- Eating foods the body doesn’t digest well (read more about this here)
- Aggravating compounds like lectins (find a lectin-free grocery list here)
Read this post to learn about more causes and solutions for constipation. Also consider taking a quality digestive enzyme (here’s the one we use) with your meals, or use digestive bitters (here) or Betaine HCl with Pepsin (here), all of which help our food to digest properly.
Smoothies for constipation and bloating
When a patient is both constipated and bloated, the causes may include fermentation in the small intestine. Consider these dietary changes:
- a Low-FODMAP diet (If beans are tolerated, chickpeas and lentils are good options. Otherwise, add certain berries and/or certain soaked nuts and seeds. Find the Low-FODMAP food list here.)
- solutions for SIBO (Here’s a good article.)
Additional Optional Ingredients
Several additional high-fiber foods can be used in your beet smoothie, to change up the flavor and add variety:
- 1 heaping tablespoon roasted carob powder (find it here). Carob and beets go great together, kind of like a chocolate cake with beets added for moistness.
- Fresh or frozen berries (berries are a great high fiber food with many other health benefits).
- 2 tablespoons soaked chia seeds (learn more about soaking seeds here): Simply stir chia seeds with a small amount of yogurt or apple cider vinegar and water, and leave out overnight. The seeds will absorb the liquid and enzymatically become more digestible and nutritious. They are then ready to use.
- The juice of half a lemon also aids in liver detoxification and makes a lovely flavor combined with the beets and ginger in the recipe below. (But do not combine with dairy milk, or the lemon juice will curdle the milk. Use with a non-dairy liquid base.)
- 1 tablespoon gelatin will thicken your smoothie (eat it with a spoon) and helps to keep fluid in the digestive tract. (Find the best gelatin here, and use discount code BEAUTIFUL10 for 10% off your entire order.)
- 1 cup bone broth or meat stock (in place of other liquid) makes the smoothie savory, into a bisque-like soup, and also provides gelatin and collagen.
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon adds great flavor (delicious with carob) and is good for blood sugar levels.
- See more optional add-ins in the Recipe Notes below. Lots of fun, delicious and nutritious variations.
Green smoothies for constipation
While greens add fiber to your diet, greens are not necessary in constipation smoothies for the smoothies to be effective.
Instead, focus on the key players in the smoothie, and add berries if you want additional fiber.
While most of us have been taught to eat our greens, greens like spinach come with dangers: Greens are high in oxalic acid. Greens are also high in Vitamin A, which can become toxic when over-consumed (read more on this here). Additionally, green veggies like kale and broccoli shouldn’t be eaten raw because they’re hard to digest and can suppress thyroid function.
Constipation in toddlers and kids
Children are often the ones who struggle with constipation. Parents are often told about prunes and fruit juices. Those remedies rarely work. So the question is: Is this beet smoothie safe for kids?
The answer is Yes, but start with small amounts. Give your child a quarter or a half portion to start. When you see some improvement, increase the amount until their bowel movements are optimum.
Too much psyllium husk powder isn’t good for kids just like it isn’t good for adults. Fiber needs often have just as much to do with the individual as the age of the individual. Adults can be sensitive too, and some kids need more psyllium than others. Start with less and increase as needed.
Also remember and consider ingredients like acacia fiber for children, and the Vitamin A Detox diet for children, to further address the cause of the constipation.
How fast does it work?
If you drink this smoothie one day, it is likely you’ll have relief the next day. Because this remedy is a food-based solution, its transit time is how long it takes to work. Some of you will definitely need the psyllium husk powder, so be sure to include the 1/2 teaspoon called for in the recipe. Also be sure to use the full quantity of beets designated.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the Comments section below.
This all-veggie smoothie is delicious and effective. Drink it daily cold or warm, and enjoy relief from constipation, as well as a nutritious beverage to look forward to! Several variations ranging from plain with ginger to berry to chocolate to carob. Just need a blender, and let's go!
- 1 large beet , or 2 small beets (about 3/4 to 1 lb. total)
- 1 cup milk of choice: raw milk, coconut milk or favorite homemade nut/seed milk
- 1 inch nub fresh ginger , cut into small pieces (no need to peel)
- 1/2 teaspoon organic psyllium husk powder (omit for GAPS and AIP unless okayed by your practitioner) and/or acacia fiber (see Recipe Notes)
- stevia , to taste (about 10 drops of liquid stevia or a sprinkle of powdered, depending on the concentration) OR use 1 tablespoon honey (for GAPS and AIP) or pure maple syrup
- pinch sea salt
- See Recipe Notes for additional Add-ins
Do not peel beets. Wash. Roughly chop and place in pot. Cover with water. Cook over medium heat until tender through to the center, 15-25 minutes, depending on the size of the chunks. Drain. (Note: To make more beets for future days, cook several beets at one time. Store the extra in the fridge.) I also cook my beets in the Instant Pot. (How-to link in Recipe Notes below.)
Decide if you're making a hot or a cold smoothie. The older I get, the more I like hot smoothies best. If hot: Heat your milk in a small saucepan. If cold, plan ahead to chill OR even freeze your beet chunks.
Place all ingredients in blender: hot or cold milk, warm or cold beets, fresh ginger, optional psyllium or acacia fiber, stevia or preferred sweetener and sea salt.
Blend until smooth. Serve and enjoy!!
Psyllium Husk Powder or Acacia Fiber
This smoothie recipe allows you to choose between using psyllium husk powder and/or acacia fiber. I go into more detail about this in the broader post, but you can use between 1/2 a teaspoon acacia fiber to 2 or more tablespoons. It is recommended to start with the lower dose and work up very gradually. Acacia fiber is a prebiotic that helps to restore proper balance of flora in the colon.
In contrast, psyllium husk powder is a soluble fiber that adds weight and bulk to bowel movements to help them come out complete. Psyllium husk powder can be used safely long term, but it does not amend the colon ecosystem.
The beet-ginger version of this smoothie is excellent. But some days, if you're having the smoothie often, you may want to change it up. My favorite way to make this smoothie extra yummy is to add carob or cocoa. You'll see below the other additions I make, all of which I love, so I'm sharing them with you.
- Add 1 tablespoon (or 1 heaping tablespoon if you prefer) toasted carob powder or cocoa powder. I like this option best with the smoothie warm or hot. The warmth helps the cocoa flavor to bloom and become more digestible. I prefer to omit the ginger when I make the cocoa version.
- Add 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses. In addition to making the smoothie a potent source of iron, molasses is delicious with the ginger in the smoothie.
- Add 2 teaspoons mesquite powder. (Find it here.) This mild sweetener adds depth to the ginger flavor, making the smoothie even earthier. I love mesquite and use it often. Mesquite is also a prebiotic fiber. Omit other sweeteners or start with less until you find how sweet you like the smoothie.
- Add 1/2 to 1 cup berries of choice. This addition makes the smoothie bigger, so you may have some leftover to have at another time in the day. Don't decrease the beets to compensate if you want the full benefit of this smoothie as a constipation remedy.
- Add 2 tablespoons (or 1 scoop) collagen powder for more protein. (Find it here. Use code BEAUTIFUL10 at check out for 10% off your entire order.)
How to Cook Beets in Instant Pot HERE.
Are beet smoothies healthy long term?
My concern with long term use of beet smoothies is two part: One, beets are high in oxalates. It may be best to rotate beet smoothies with berry-soaked-chia smoothies to reduce the intake of oxalic intake. Second, please continue to look for the root cause of your constipation. While this smoothie works, consider other changes or insights that may eliminate the need for supplements (even food supplements).
Consider these changes:
- Increase magnesium intake.
- Consider the Vitamin A Detox diet. This is the diet that allowed me to stop taking my iron supplement. My iron supplement was the cause of my constipation. When the liver is overloaded with Vitamin A, it pushes iron out. With a functional or naturopathic doctor’s help, consider an alternative to your iron supplement: Why is your body prone towards anemia? Again, look for the root cause. While I loved this smoothie remedy for many months, I no longer need it because of my new diet and the healing that’s happening as a result.