Foods that Cause Constipation
Are you suffering from constipation? Hard, lumpy, difficult to pass stools or infrequent stools can make for a great deal of misery. But you are NOT alone. Did you know that about 30% of adults suffer from constipation?! If you count yourself in that number, you’ll want to read on to learn which are the WORST foods that cause constipation.
Foods that cause constipation are low in fibre, high in fat or associated with dehydration. Check out my list of foods that cause constipation below, for a complete run-down.
Worst Foods That Cause Constipation
1. Unripe bananas: green bananas are significantly more likely to cause constipation than ripe (yellow or brown-spotted) ones. This is owing to green bananas being higher in resistant starch and tannins. These are compounds in the bananas which may slow transit time (increase the length of time it takes for food entering the mouth to pass through the gut and exit via the stool). Ironically, ripe may stimulate a bowel movement!
2. Coffee: Coffee acts as a diuretic – pulling water out of the body via the urine. This may contribute to dehydration. While some folks may find that coffee stimulates a bowel movement, if you are already dehydrated, you may be more likely to experience constipation as a result of drinking coffee.
3. Refined Grains & Flour: This would include white rice, white bread, bagels, pastries, pretzels, white pasta and the like. These items are all low in fibre. While some people may find that a high fibre diet worsens their constipation, this is likely related to the type of fibre they’re eating and whether or not they are well hydrated. It may also be related to the Type of Constipation they have or an underlying condition associated with constipation.
4. Meat: A diet high in animal protein (especially beef, lamb, dark meat skin-on poultry) can contribute to constipation. Meat contains NO fibre (it’s only found in plant foods), and may displace other fibre sources in diet. Additionally, fattier meat contributes to slower transit time through the gut, as fats take longer to digest. Eating moderate amounts of leaner meat with large amounts of vegetables can help to counteract this. Of course, vegetarian protein sources (beans, split peas, lentils, tofu, tempeh, nuts & seeds) should be included as well – as they are low in fat and high in fibre.
5. Alcohol: Alcohol, especially in excess, has a diuretic and therefore dehydrating effect which can lead to constipation. Alcohol can additionally delay transit time, and is irritating to the intestines – which may result in constipation OR diarrhea.
Five More Foods That Cause Constipation
6. Chocolate: In a survey of a large number of constipated patients, the top food they believed was associated with their constipation, was chocolate. Chocolate may contribute to constipation because it decreases peristalsis (the downward movement of food through the gut), leading to slower transit time.
7. Medications & Supplements: While not technically food, medications and supplements are often overlooked contributors to constipation. One of the top side effects of many drugs is digestive upset of one kind or another – including constipation. If you are taking any medications, speak to your MD or check the product monograph (information sheet) to see if constipation is side effect. Some supplements may cause constipation as well. Calcium and iron are examples of minerals that may contribute to constipation. Speak to your ND about less constipating forms and dietary sources that may be better options.
8. Dairy: Dairy foods, like milk, cheese, butter and cream, have long been associated with constipation. These foods are especially related to constipation in infants and children. Avoiding high fat dairy in favour of low fat products, or avoiding dairy altogether, may lead to constipation relief. Aside from fat content, dairy is also devoid of fibre, and may displace other fibre-rich foods in the diet.
9. Fast Food & Processed Foods: I’ve lumped these two together, as they generally pertain to foods high in fat, high in animal protein, and low in fibre. Burgers, fries, ice-cream, nachos, chips, pizza and chicken wings are not exactly known for their health benefits. So this should come as no surprise. Choose these foods in extreme moderation. And when you do choose to have them, limit yourself to a smaller portion and pair it with a salad, a tall glass (or two) of water and some fruit!
10. High Fat Foods: OK. So we’ve pretty much covered this territory! Ice cream, mayonnaise, creamy sauces, oily or greasy foods or sauces, fried foods and fatty cuts of meat, oh my! As you’ve learned, these items slow digestion, increase transit time, and provide no fibre or bulk to to your stool.
So there you have it – the WORST foods that cause constipation!
In case you missed it, here’s my list of the TOP 15 BEST FOODS FOR CONSTIPATION.