Constipation is a common problem that many people experience. It can be caused by various things, including diet, lack of exercise, and chronic dehydration. If left untreated, constipation can lead to other problems such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and even colon cancer. There are many different ways to treat constipation, and one of the best approaches is to eliminate foods that cause constipation from your diet.

This article takes you through these foods to help you understand what could be contributing to your problem. You will also learn the best foods to incorporate to avoid being constipated in the future.

What Is Constipation?

Constipation is a common digestive problem that refers to difficulty in emptying the bowels, characterized by three or fewer bowel movements per week.

The stools are usually dry, hard, and difficult to pass, resulting in pain during defecation. One may also feel incomplete bowel emptying. In severe cases, the stool may be accompanied by blood.

Constipation may present with additional symptoms like bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.

Almost everyone experiences constipation at some point in their life. In fact, research shows that 16 out of 100 adults in the US have constipation. However, if it occurs more frequently, you may want to examine your lifestyle and see whether some habits contribute to it. 

You can say you have chronic constipation if it persists for several weeks or longer. You may want to see a doctor to properly manage it and prevent associated health issues.

Foods That Cause Constipation

1. Gluten-containing foods

Gluten is a protein found in some grains, including wheat, rye, and barley. It’s most commonly used in bread and other baked products. Gluten can also be found as an ingredient in sauces, dressings, and other food items. Some people are gluten intolerant, which means they have a hard time digesting gluten. Others may have gluten sensitivity, which means that they don’t have an intolerance but still experience symptoms after eating gluten.

Regardless of whether you have any of these conditions, gluten has been shown to cause constipation in some people. This is because gluten can be heavy for the digestive system to fully digest leading to indigestion and digestive issues including diarrhea and constipation.

Gluten also causes inflammation in the gut lining which interferes with nutrient absorption and disrupts the normal gut microbiome. This causes the bad gut bacteria in the gut to thrive causing an overall unhealthy gut.

An unhealthy gut is a common cause of numerous health problems. It can lead to digestive problems, anxiety, and even weight gain. In addition, an unhealthy gut can make it easy for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause infection. If left untreated, an unhealthy gut can even lead to diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Is Vegan Gluten-Free?

2. Dairy

Dairy is a common food in most households, but it’s also a common cause of constipation. Dairy products contain high-fat content, which can slow down the transit time of food through the digestive tract. They also contain high levels of lactose, a sugar molecule that can cause indigestion leading to constipation among other digestive issues. The sugar can also accumulate in the intestinal tract and cause sensitivity leading to bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.

Dairy sensitivity and constipation is especially common in children, toddlers, and infants.

In one crossover trial, 13 children aged 1-12 years with chronic constipation were put on cow’s milk for a period of time after which it was replaced with soy milk for a subsequent amount of time. At the end of the period, 9 of the children recorded constipation relief.

Another 26-year-old study found that children with chronic constipation experienced relief after dairy was eliminated from their diet. Is Milk Bad For You?

3. Alcohol

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which slows down the brain and affects how the nervous system works. This causes relaxation in your intestinal muscles, which affects your gut peristalsis, making it difficult for food to pass through. 

Alcohol can also cause constipation by causing fluid loss through frequent urination. Water helps soften your stools, making it easy for your bowel movements. On the other hand, inadequate fluids make digestion difficult, and this can cause hard stools that are difficult to pass.

 In addition, alcohol can irritate the gut, which increases the amount of gas, leading to bloating and other digestive issues. Dangers Of Alcohol

4. Red Meat

Red meat may not be a typical cause of constipation, but when you eat too much of it, it takes up the space for healthy gut health foods like fruits and vegetables.

Unlike fruits and vegetables, red meat lacks fiber which is essential for digestion and bowel movements. So, a lack of it can lead to constipation.

Red meat is also high in saturated fat, which can lead to constipation. The high-fat content in red meat slows down the digestive process and causes constipation.

5. Fried Foods

Fried foods are one of the main culprits when it comes to constipation. They are high in fat and oils that slow digestion and bowel movements leading to constipation.

Fried foods also contain sugar and other artificial ingredients that can cause inflammation in the gut. These ingredients can also cause harmful bacteria to grow, which can lead to various digestive problems, including constipation.

Fried foods are also high in salt which can dry out your stools making them hard and difficult to pass. The more salt you eat the more your body draws water from the intestines making your constipation worse.

Besides, these foods generally decrease your fiber intake, which is an important nutrient in fighting constipation.

If you’re struggling with constipation, try to avoid fried foods as much as possible. 

6. Frozen Dinners

Frozen dinners are one of the primary sources of constipation. They contain large amounts of refined sugars and unhealthy fats. These ingredients cause the intestine to become inflamed and reduce the amount of water that can be absorbed. This results in constipation. To avoid constipation, try to eat a more balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables.

7. Persimmons

Persimmons are high in tannins, a group of chemicals found in many plant foods, including tea and can be beneficial to the human body. However, when tannins reach high levels in the digestive system, they can cause constipation.

Tannins bind to water and fiber in the large intestine, making it difficult for the body to move waste through the intestines. This can lead to constipation, bloating, and a feeling of fullness after eating.

Additionally, tannins can irritate the gut wall, causing diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues. For these reasons, it is important to limit your intake of tannins if you are struggling with constipation.

8. Processed Grains

Processed grains like white bread, pasta, and cereal are major causes of constipation. These grains are treated with preservatives, enzymes, and other chemicals that can cause gut inflammation. This inflammation blocks the absorption of nutrients and can lead to constipation.

Also, these foods contain little to no fiber, making them difficult to digest or move through the digestive system. 

In addition, processed grains are high in sugar which can cause insulin resistance and weight gain. Eliminating processed grains from your diet can help improve your gut health and reduce your risk of constipation.

9. Coffee

Coffee is a popular beverage that many people enjoy. However, drinking coffee can also cause constipation.

Coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. Caffeine consumption in large amounts can cause the stomach to contract and make it difficult to move bowel matter through the digestive system. This can lead to constipation. 

Caffeine is also a diuretic, so too much consumption can dehydrate your body and reduce the amount of water that is available to flush out waste leading to constipation.

10. Sugary Foods

There are many reasons why sugary foods can cause constipation. One of the main reasons is that these foods contain a lot of sugar which feeds the bad bacteria in the gut. This bacteria causes the production of gas and bloating, both of which can lead to constipation. Additionally, sugar can cause inflammation, which can interfere with the absorption of important nutrients, including water, thus contributing to constipation.

What to Eat Instead

Flaxseed

Flaxseeds are a good source of fiber which can help relieve constipation. They contain soluble and insoluble fibers, which work together to help move things through your digestive system. The soluble fiber helps to swell up in the gut and bind to waste products, while the insoluble fiber draws water into the stool and increases bulk, causing stools to move through more quickly through the intestines.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are a great way to relieve constipation. They contain fiber and healthy fats that help move the bowels. Chia seeds are also high in antioxidants, which can help fight against cell damage and promote a healthy digestive system.

Oats

Oatmeal is a good start for your morning because it can help regulate bowel movements and is full of fiber. The viscous fiber in oatmeal helps ease waste through the intestines, which can lead to relief from constipation.

They also contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that can help improve your digestion. If you’re looking for a way to relieve constipation without relying on medications or surgery, oats may be the best option for you.

Prunes

If you’re having trouble passing stools, prunes are a great fruit to turn to. Loaded with fiber and minerals like calcium, iron, copper, and potassium that help with digestion and regularity, these dried plums are a miracle fruit when it comes to getting your bowels moving. They also contain sorbitol which helps promote regular bowel motility while increasing stool bulk and fat content.

Studies have shown that the soluble fiber in prunes may also reduce cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar levels, improving overall health. Start this week by eating two fresh or canned pitted prunes at breakfast, lunchtime, and dinner, and stay consistent to see if it provides some relief.

Spinach

The number one food you should have in your diet if you suffer from constipation is spinach. This leafy green will do wonders for your digestive system, helping you with both constipation and diarrhea.

Spinach is full of fiber, which moves food through the digestive tract and clears out any food particles that might be irritating the colon wall.

Some studies even show that spinach can reduce symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

Spinach is also full of antioxidants which can fight against free radicals and protect you from cellular damage.

As an added bonus, spinach provides calcium for strong bones and teeth! It also has a healthy dose of vitamin K, which helps produce blood clotting agents that are needed for healing wounds.

In addition, spinach contains lutein (an antioxidant) that protects eye health and prevents macular degeneration, as well as beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A) that boosts immune function.
Add spinach to salads and soups, or even use it as a wrap for sandwiches.

Pears

Pears are a great fruit for those that suffer from constipation because of the high water content.

They contain soluble fiber, which will help stimulate bowel movements and make stools softer and easier to pass.

They also contain pectin, a type of fiber that helps absorb water in the intestines, adding more bulk and softness to stools, making them easier to pass.

Pears are also high in potassium, an essential mineral for muscle contractions, so this can help get things moving in the gut.

Final Thoughts

Millions of people around the world struggle with constipation every year, and for many of them, it’s a debilitating problem.

Foods that are high in fiber can help keep your digestive system moving, but sometimes they just don’t do the trick, mainly because most of our diets are also full of constipating foods such as wheat, sugary foods, fried foods, and processed grains.

While you should work on eliminating these foods, ensure you are replacing them with high-quality fiber-rich foods like prunes, spinach, flaxseed, and chia seeds. These foods are also high in other nutrients that can help promote overall health and well-being.

Other Related Articles

  1. Best Fiber Foods For Constipation
  2. Magnesium For Muscle Pain
  3. Magnesium Glycinate Benefits
  4. What Are Postbiotics?
  5. Why Do You Have Bad Gut Health?

man suffering with constipation

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