Constipation is a common problem that is medically defined as having less than three bowels per week. Symptoms of constipation could include bloating, gas, or painful bowel movements.
Other factors such as improper diet, stress, lifestyle, or other underlying health conditions may also contribute to constipation.
If a person has less than one bowel movement in a week, they suffer from severe constipation.
Some foods like apples, broccoli, citrus fruits, pears, sweet potatoes, and kiwi are foods for constipation. They may help to prevent constipation because of their high fiber contents.
However, due to their binding properties, some foods might worsen constipation. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid them when constipated.
List Of Foods To Avoid When Constipated
Bananas are recommended by doctors as a diet to treat diarrhea.
It is one of the constituents of the BRAT diet, which stands for banana, rice, apple, sauce, and toast, which is employed by doctors in the treatment of the symptoms of diarrhea.
This paper shows that bananas can slow down bowel movements which, which may not be beneficial for people suffering from constipation.
However, while unripe bananas can worsen constipation, ripe bananas might prevent it.
This study shows that unripe bananas contain starch which can be hard for the body to digest.
On the other hand, ripe bananas contain dietary fibers such as pectin which drives water into the intestines thus smoothening the movement of food across the gut.
Milk And Dairy Products
Dairy products are no doubt rich in nutrients but they may not be a good option to be included in your diet when you are constipated.
Infants, toddlers, and children, who are the major consumers of milk often witness the problem of constipation.
A study conducted on children suffering from chronic constipation concluded that avoiding drinking milk showed improvements.
The children aged from 1 to 12 years also witnessed improvements when their cow’s milk was replaced by soy milk.
This study shows that 9 out of 13 children saw improvements when they stopped consuming cow’s milk.
Experts say that this is due to sensitivity towards the proteins found in cow’s milk.
Gluten is a natural structural protein found in grains like wheat, barley, rye, spelled, Kamut, and triticale. These foods containing gluten may cause constipation.
Celiac disease is a health condition in which the person is intolerant to gluten.
When a person suffering from celiac disease consumes gluten, their immune system attacks their gut which causes severe harm to their health.
Therefore, following a gluten-free diet is necessary for people suffering from celiac disease.
Research suggests that in every country, 0.5 to 1 percent of the people suffer from celiac disease and they might not be aware of that.
If you experience constipation upon eating gluten-containing foods, you must check with your doctor or try cutting gluten from your diet.
Processed grains including white bread, white rice, and white pasta are comparatively more difficult to digest than whole grains since they are low in fiber contents.
Experts have found that eating fiber-rich foods promote proper digestion and prevents constipation.
Processed grains lack fiber as the outer bran and germ parts of the grains are removed while they are undergoing processing.
Bran contains fiber which in turn adds to the bulk in the stool and promotes easy bowel movement.
By consuming whole grains instead of processed grains, people may get relief from constipation.
Junk And Fried Foods
Junk foods are high in fats and calories and low in fibers and other nutrients. They also tend to be high in their sodium contents which further makes them unhealthy to be consumed.
When you consume an excess amount of salt, your body derives water from the intestines. This might cause constipation.
Eating junk food would fill your stomach with calories, as a result of which, you will consume less fiber. This would further lead to indigestion, acidity, and constipation.
You can replace fast foods like chips, cookies, fries, and pizza with other healthy and fiber-rich foods.
As per this article, chocolates are also considered a reason for constipation.
Therefore, to prevent constipation, and other gastric problems and to maintain your overall health, you must not consume fried or junk foods.
You may replace them with healthy snacks such as chickpeas.
We all know that alcohol is injurious to health. Out of its several disadvantages, one of its harmful effects includes constipation.
According to this study, alcohol increases the number of fluids lost through urine which causes dehydration and might result in constipation.
As per this article, lack of proper hydration which may be caused by either drinking less water or by losing more water through urine increases the risk of constipation.
However, some people experience diarrhea after the consumption of alcohol. Thus, the effects of alcohol may be different in different individuals.
It is advisable to consume alcohol with some nonalcoholic liquids to avoid constipation.
Red meat should be avoided when you are constipated. The major portion of red meat contains fats and fewer fibers.
It is difficult for the body to digest fat as a result of which, and the digestion process takes a longer time.
This increases the chances of constipation. Upon consuming Red meat, it would take up the space for other fiber-rich foods which might further increase the chances of constipation.
All these reasons would lead to a low fiber intake which would lead to improper movement of the food through the gut line.
Moreover, unlike other meats such as poultry and fish, red meats take a longer time to be digested which is why you should avoid them when constipated.
You may replace red meat with other nutrient-rich and fiber-rich foods such as beans, lentils, peas, and broccoli.
High FODMAP Foods
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. It includes a wide range of food items such as-
- garlic, onions, and shallots
- legumes such as beans, chickpeas, and soybeans
- grains such as wheat, barley, and rye
- sweeteners such as xylitol, mannitol, and sorbitol-specific fruits, such as apples, blackberries, and watermelon
People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome might find it difficult to digest these groups of foods.
The research shows that these types of food items are a group of carbohydrates that may promote fermentation in the digestive system.
This might further lead to symptoms like bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
Limiting or avoiding FODMAP foods might lower symptoms of constipation in those people whose bodies face difficulty in digesting these groups of foods.
Other Foods To Avoid When Constipated
There are some other foods that one should avoid consuming when constipated. These include –
- persimmons (a common fruit in eastern Asia)
- chewing gum
- white rice
- medicine supplements such as iron
- processed foods
- frozen dinners
These foods might worsen constipation upon consumption.
The most vulnerable people to constipation are the ones who are pregnant, who frequently use laxatives, eat a diet low in fiber, do not consume enough fluids, experience stress, anxiety, or depression, and are usually inactive.
You must consult your doctor if symptoms prevail for a longer duration of time. You should replace white bread with whole grain bread to increase your daily fiber intake.
In addition to this, you must also keep yourself hydrated and drink a lot of water to smoothen the movement of food across the gut.
Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.
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- Atena Mohammadi Bourkheili, Sanaz Mehrabani, Mohammadreza Esmaeili Dooki, et al. Effect of Cow’s-milk–free diet on chronic constipation in children; A randomized clinical trial Caspian J Intern Med. 2021 Winter; 12(1): 91–96.doi: 10.22088/cjim.12.1.91
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- Sabine Nunes Boilesen, Soraia Tahan, Francine Canova Dias, et al. Water and fluid intake in the prevention and treatment of functional constipation in children and adolescents: is there evidence? J Pediatr (Rio J). Jul-Aug 2017;93(4):320-327. doi: 10.1016/j.jped.2017.01.005. Epub 2017 Apr 25. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28450053/
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- Try a FODMAPs diet to manage irritable bowel syndrome March 15, 2022 Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/a-new-diet-to-manage-irritable-bowel-syndrome
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Alisha Matthew has been a practicing nutritionist since 2016. She holds a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of IOWA. She is a staunch believer in improving the human health index by educating people about nutrition and the importance of nutrition in leading a healthy and happy life. Her long-term goal is to keep educating people on general health and keep herself updated with the latest trends in the field of health.