Approximately 15 percent of Americans get constipated, according to the National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse. When constipated, you have fewer than three bowel movements per week or have stools that are painful and difficult to pass. Diet can play a role in constipation, so knowing which foods are more likely to cause this problem and which can limit your risk can provide you with some relief.
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MedlinePlus recommends avoiding processed foods if you have constipation. These foods tend to be low in fiber, and a low-fiber diet is one of the potential causes for constipation. Fiber helps add bulk to your stool and attracts water, helping to make your stool softer and easier to pass. Trade foods made with refined grains for those made with whole grains to increase your fiber intake and help relieve your constipation. Be sure to increase your fluid intake at the same time as you increase your fiber to avoid other digestive issues, such as gas and bloating.
Meat and Eggs
Different foods affect people in different ways. Meat and eggs, however, are among the foods that can sometimes cause you to become constipated, especially if you eat a lot of them to the exclusion of foods higher in fiber. A study published in November 2013 in the "Journal of the Korean Academy of Fundamentals of Nursing" found that Korean schoolchildren who ate meat at least once per day were more likely to be constipated than children who ate meat less often. Use legumes as a protein source more often, as these beans and peas are higher in fiber and lower in fat than meat or eggs.
Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, ice cream and yogurt, can be constipating if you eat too much of them, according to Drugs.com. This is especially the case in children; however, cheese is one of the foods that is often listed as constipating in adults as well. This doesn't mean you need to avoid these foods totally, just consume them in moderation as part of a high-fiber diet.
Other Potentially Constipating Foods
A study published in the "European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology" in January 2005 found that black tea, bananas and chocolate are among the foods people most often consider constipating. Instead of eating bananas when you have constipation, try other fruits, such as prunes, berries, raisins, apricots, plums or peaches, which tend to help relieve constipation. Drink herbal tea, water or prune juice instead of black tea, and limit the amount of chocolate you eat.
- MedlinePlus: Constipation - Self Care
- European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology: The Perceived Effect of Various Foods and Beverages on Stool Consistency
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Constipation
- Drugs.com: Constipation in Children
- BreastCancer.org: Constipation
- Journal of the Korean Academy of Fundamentals of Nursing: Prevalence and Factors Influencing Constipation in School Age Children