Non-Profit Trusted Source of Non-Commercial Health Information
The Original Voice of the American Academy of Anti-Aging, Preventative, and Regenerative Medicine
logo logo
GI-Digestive Excretory System Food As Medicine Functional Foods

Common Foods Contributing To Constipation

1 year ago

6495  0
Posted on Sep 08, 2020, 1 p.m.

At some point in their lives most people will struggle to poop, that backed up feeling many know all too well, and as we are desperate to relieve ourselves sometimes nothing seems to help rid the constipation. 

Some turn to supplements to speed things along, some turn to exercise to get things moving, but while you are trying to make use of that toilet perhaps it is time to look at your meal plan as it is most likely the real culprit causing this issue. 

Constipation is not specific to a certain age as it targets people of all ages and all walks of life, and diet is the single most important factor that affects our gut and bowel movements. When we maintain a healthy diet with a balance of soluble and insoluble fibre one most likely will not experience as much constipation, but when we fuel up on various foods with little to nor fibre content that is when the trouble begins. 

If you have a hard time going to the bathroom there are many food choices that could be contributing to constipation which includes the following common choices which can be bad news for your bowels: dairy, microwave meals, frozen dinners, packaged foods, fried foods, refined grains, and saturated fats.

If you are noticing your bowel movements are slowing down you may want to refrain from eating cheese for the time being as it contains casein which can be difficult to digest, leading to disruptive gut issues. Those who are lactose intolerant on the other hand may experience diarrhea after consuming dairy-rich foods. 

Those microwave meals, frozen dinners and packaged foods are convenient when in a rush as they are easier than cooking a meal for yourself. However, your colon may have other ideas about it and respond by giving you the inconvenience of constipation because these meals are typically high in fat, salt and sugar while being low in protein. The excess salt will collect the moisture in the cells making it so that the intestine will not have access to the fluids that it needs to move waste efficiently. Meaning if things are not moving slowly it may be best to avoid these types of meals that often contain ingredients you may not be able to pronounce. 

Those french fries, chips, or even crispy chicken sandwiches common to a drive-through window that are predominately fried while being convenient are also not doing your digestive system any favours. These meals tend to be low in fibre while being high in fat and sodium making them more difficult for the body to process and longer to digest which promotes constipation. This type of food also is a double-edged sword as they can make stools harder which may make it painful when you are finally able to go to the bathroom. 

It may be time to upgrade your palate from refined grains such as white bread, crackers, pasta and white rice to whole grains as the process of milling removes the bran and germ from refined grains which can contribute to constipation. Additionally, refined grains have very little fibre and a lot of gluten, meaning that those with sensitivity can experience more constipation. 

Too much of anything can be bad, this is the case with fats, too much saturated and trans fats can have a bad effect on our digestive system. Diets that are high in saturated fats have been found to correlate with higher rates of constipation, meaning that as with most things, moderation is the key. 

Constipation in some cases can lead to complications such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, diverticulitis, fecal impaction, and stress urinary incontinence. It is recommended to seek medical assistance if you have severe pain, blood in your stools, or are experiencing a round of constipation that lasts for longer than three weeks, according to the Cleveland Clinic. 

Just a few tips to help keep things moving:

  • Drinking more water can help to keep your bowels moving since constipation is synonymous with intestinal dehydration, and drinking more water makes it easier to pass stool. 
  • Kefir contains natural probiotics that can help maintain gut microbiota balance to improve digestion and bowel movements. 
  • Prunes are a great choice for overall digestion and they serve as a natural solution for constipation.
  • Chia seeds may be your friend if you are constipated as they are good sources of insoluble fibre which will help to move things along.
  • An apple a day will help to keep constipation away, and if you are not a fan of apples try a pear as they are both loaded with pectin fibre that will speed along the digestion process and contribute to healthier bowel movements with less chance of chronic constipation. 
  • Nearly every type of bean can help fight against constipation as they tend to contain soluble and insoluble fibre which promotes a healthy digestive system to help get things moving again. 

WorldHealth Videos