Constipation makes it difficult to pass stool and can decrease the frequency of bowel movements. Doctors define constipation as fewer than three bowel movements in one week. The symptom can occur for several reasons, such as prescription medication, supplements, and certain foods and drinks. A person who is experiencing constipation can avoid foods that might exacerbate the issue. Anyone who has chronic issues with constipation can also reduce these foods in their diet.
Eating bananas that are not ripe enough can cause constipation. Underripe green bananas are full of starch, which is hard for the body to digest. Infants and toddlers can become constipated by snacking on too many bananas, as well. Moderation is key. Many people buy bananas when they are still green to give them more time to eat them, but it is important not to start snacking until they have ripened.
Adults often tell kids scary stories about the dangers of swallowing chewing gum -- that it takes seven years to digest or could sprout a gum tree in their stomachs. Though these results are, of course, untrue, swallowing gum can have negative effects, including blocking the digestive tract and causing constipation. It is best to keep chewing gum out of the mouths of children under five, as it can be difficult to stop them from swallowing it when it loses its flavor.
Some people are sensitive to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. A person who is finding their digestion sluggish or having repeated instances of constipation might consider gluten products as the cause and speak to a doctor about gluten allergies. Eliminating gluten from the diet could restore regular bowel movements. People with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, must avoid gluten altogether.
White rice has been stripped of its husk, bran, and germ. Brown rice keeps these nutritious parts intact and is thus full of fiber and protein. While white rice causes constipation, brown rice can help relieve it and is generally considered healthier overall, except in the case of certain inflammatory conditions. Reducing or removing white rice from the diet and adding brown rice can improve digestive health and eliminate constipation.
Although fairly rare in the United States, persimmon is a popular Asian fruit that can cause constipation if eaten unripe. The sweeter the fruit, the better it digests. Astringent persimmons have a high concentration of tannic acid, which slows down the movement of food in the intestines.
Red meat can cause constipation because of its large amount of iron, but it can also upset the stomach for other reasons. Although beef and pork have protein fibers, they are tough and difficult to digest. They are also high in fat, which means they take longer to move through the digestive tract. Like other foods, red meat is fine to eat in moderation, but people should limit consumption, especially if they struggle with constipation.
Like white rice, this food also causes constipation because it is high in starch but low in fiber. The same issues arise when baking with white rather than whole wheat flour. Popular foods like bagels, crackers, and pretzels are often made with this less healthy ingredient. Also like rice, white bread may cause constipation, while whole grains relieve the symptoms of constipation.
Consuming too much alcohol has dangerous effects on the body. Even in moderation, alcohol may lead to constipation. To avoid this unpleasant feeling and many other side effects of alcohol, it can help to drink water between each alcoholic beverage, to prevent dehydration.
Many people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) know chocolate is on the list of foods that cause constipation. Because it has large amounts of fat, chocolate moves through the digestive system slowly. While it can be difficult to avoid delicious snacks like chocolate, moderation is key when it comes to digestive health.
Meals that come pre-packaged in freezer trays often contain next to no nutritional value, though they have improved in recent years. Like other foods that cause constipation, these dinners are often high in fat and low in fiber, and are full of sodium, more often than not. The latter additive can result in constipation because existing water in the body is used to dilute the salt rather than to push out waste. Foods that contribute to a high-sodium diet can lead to dry, hard stools that are harder to pass.
Like many foods that cause constipation, dairy products are still healthy in moderation. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium and vitamins. However, consuming them in large quantities can result in sluggish digestion. Lactose in dairy products can also cause bloating and gas. Substituting plant-based milk for cow's milk may help symptoms of constipation, especially for children.
A greasy drive-through burger and fries might be a quick fix on the road, but most people are aware such meals are low in fiber and high in fat. The body is better served by a juicy burger grilled and dressed at home, and If you want to bite into a juicy burger that has some nutritional value, grill your own. That alone can cut back on the constipation-causing ingredients in fast food, but opting for a chicken or turkey burger instead of beef can further increase the benefits. Homemade fries are also higher in fiber and less likely to cause digestive issues.
Since foods high in fat can slow digestion, it is not surprising potato chips are a constipation culprit. Even though they're a tasty treat, they are low in fiber and other nutrients and are easy to over-consume. Another problem with chips is that people tend to overconsume them. Limiting this snack to a small dish, or opt for the crunch of high-fiber raw vegetables are two excellent ways to offset the digestive detriments.
Most people know coffee and other caffeinated beverages are diuretics that can stimulate the urinary tract and bowels, so it might be surprising to learn they can also leave to constipation. In people who are already dehydrated, substances in coffee, black tea, and some sodas can worsen symptoms.
Eating sugary desserts on special occasions is a great way to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, but no one will be surprised that foods containing a lot of sugar should be kept ot a minimum. Treats like cake are low in fiber and high in fat -- the notorious constipation combination. Essentially, any foods that offer more problematic ingredients than healthful nutrients can lead to issues with digestion.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.