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9 Foods To Avoid When You Constipate

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Foods To Avoid When You Constipate
Foods To Avoid When You Constipate

Constipation often makes you irritated because defecating is difficult. One of the common causes of difficult defecation is food. Diet directly influences intestinal transit, and therefore, knowing which foods cause constipation is essential to end this recurring problem.

So, what foods can cause constipation?

Potential Foods to Cause Constipation

Constipation occurs because of problems with bowel function, such as an infection that makes bowel movements slow down. Slow bowel movements make the stool unable to run smoothly into the anus.

The longer the stool stays in the large intestine, the fluid it will be absorbed by the body so that the texture eventually becomes dry and dense. As a result, the stool becomes difficult to pass, causing constipation.

The constipation affects up to 20% of the population and is more common in women than in men, according to the Spanish Foundation of the Digestive System (FEAD). In them, hormonal changes such as those that occur each month with menstruation and during pregnancy favor it.

A sedentary lifestyle is another factor that favors constipation. A minimum of exercise is essential to start up the body and that the "mass" that bothers you so much, goes down to where it should.

Stress doesn't help regularity either, nerves and anxiety only do more than making the problem worse. Perhaps it is time to try mindfulness techniques to relax.

One that triggers constipation symptoms is the lack of fiber intake. Fiber itself is a source of the most nutrients the body needs to soften the stool and keep the bowels smooth so that the stool can pass more easily.

If you do not eat enough fiber, your bowel movements will slow down so that the stool turns dry and then hardens in your stomach. Finally, constipation occurs.

Next, we will tell you which 9 foods may be causing you constipation so that you can consume them in moderation or directly eliminate them from your diet.  In order not to become constipated or not want constipation symptoms to worsen, you should limit or avoid the types of foods that cause constipation below.

9 Foods That Can Cause Constipation

1. Chocolate

Chocolate is a food that you can find in a variety of preparations, from chocolate bars, candy, to cakes. This type of food is indeed a favorite of many people. Unfortunately, chocolate is one of the foods that cause constipation for some people.

The relationship between chocolate and constipation is not entirely clear. Until now, no research has found substances that trigger constipation in chocolate food. However, most researchers believe that the mixture of milk in food is what causes difficulty defecating.

In addition, researchers argue that the caffeine content in chocolate is a culprit for constipation. Caffeine has a diuretic effect that makes a person urinate more often. This can reduce the water content in the body, making the stool denser and drier. Moreover, chocolate also tends to be high in sugar so that it can affect bowel movements.

In addition to potentially causing constipation, chocolate is a food taboo for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some chocolates contain fat which can slow down the peristalsis that pushes stool through the intestines in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

2. Dairy Products

Apart from chocolate which often contains milk, other dairy products are very often food causes for constipation.

Most likely, people who experience constipation because of dairy products have lactose intolerance or sensitivity to lactose. Yes, cow, goat, or sheep milk contains lactose, aka natural sugar, in the milk of these animals.

People with lactose intolerance will experience symptoms of constipation after they eat dairy products. Launching the Mayo Clinic, this condition occurs because the body does not have special digestive enzymes that are responsible for digesting lactose. Hence, when this sugar cannot be absorbed by the body, remains in the intestine. In addition to constipation, dairy can also cause cramps, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, or bloating. 

3. Red Meat

Don't be weird if you experience constipation after eating red meat. The digestions of red meat are heavy and long, so although they are not a direct cause of constipation, they can alter your intestinal transit and make you suffer from the symptoms associated with it. These foods can be a cause of constipation because they contain high fat. Fats usually take longer to digest and spend more time in the digestive system.

Apart from fats that are difficult to digest, the reason why red meat is a food that causes difficulty defecating is the high iron content and hard protein fiber. All of these effects can lead to hard stools and increase the potential for constipation.

The danger of red meat in terms of increasing the probability of suffering constipation is that it is a food that, normally, is very much a protagonist in meals. Do not abuse them and always accompany them with sources of fiber (such as vegetables). That is, the problem for constipation is not the red meat itself, but not accompanying the plate of vegetables or legumes. A good option when eating red meat is to also have a salad with raw vegetables.

4. Foods That Contain Gluten

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and cereals. You can easily find gluten in many foods, such as bread, cereals, and pasta.

Although these foods seem safe, some people can experience constipation after consuming them. These foods are the main cause of constipation in people with celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and gluten intolerance.

The appearance of constipation is a sign or symptom for people with some of the ailments mentioned above after they eat gluten foods.

5. Fast Food

If you want to live a healthy life, you have to limit your consumption of fast food. In addition to increasing the risk of hypertension and other chronic diseases, these foods can actually cause constipation.

The ultra-processed ones are usually made with trans or other low-quality fats, excess salt, and refined ingredients. Fast food like hamburgers, fried foods, pizzas, sweets, and other ultra-processed foods tends to be high in fat but low in fiber. The combination of the two can slow down bowel movements. Specifically, the abuse of certain products such as industrial pastries or sausages can be detrimental in this regard. The lack of fiber that generally characterizes this type of product is one of the main conditions that affect the slowing down of intestinal transit.

In addition, these foods are high in salt, which can reduce water content in feces. When the salt level in the body is high enough, the body will use more water in the intestines to normalize blood pressure. Unfortunately, this can lead to dry, denser, and harder to pass stool.

6. Foods Made From Processed Grains

Processed grains such as white bread, white rice, and white pasta are lower in fiber than whole grains. In fact, these seeds originally contain high fiber. Most of the flour-based products that we can find in supermarkets use this product.

The cereals with which the flours are made have several layers: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. If the whole grain is ground, we can say that the resulting flour is whole grain, but, normally, the bran is removed to obtain a lighter colored flour. This layer, however, is a source of fiber and, therefore, helps to avoid constipation and slow intestinal transit.

The processing process removes the fiber in these food ingredients. When consumed this starchy food in large quantities, can affect the digestive functions, slowing their movement.  These types of low-fiber foods can cause constipation. In fact, it can make existing constipation worse. To fight constipation, brown rice and whole grains are much better.

7. Alcohol

One of the aspects that experts highlight the most is to avoid constipation is drinking sufficient fluids. However, not all drinks are worth it. Alcohol is a substance that has the ability to dehydrate and experts say that if the lining of the intestine reduces its water content may result in constipation.

For this reason, the foundation asks that the daily consumption of alcohol be reduced to the maximum extend. It is better that the daily consumption of alcohol is avoided. Especially high-proof distilled spirits and beer. Experts, however, are more permissive with wine but recommend not drinking more than a 150-milliliter glass with lunch or dinner.

8. Bananas

The green or unripe banana is astringent, that is, it constipates since it is a fruit rich in tannins and has a great capacity to absorb the water found in the intestine. A study by Konkuk University (North Korea) concluded that bananas - especially green ones and like white rice - contain a lot of starch, which is why they can cause or aggravate constipation. The same does not happen with bananas that have already ripened, as these starches are transformed into sugars. Likewise, a ripe banana is a laxative because it no longer contains so much tannin, among other aspects. To consume them, you must wait until they have matured.

9. Coffee

For some people, coffee can act as a laxative, but for many others it can have the opposite effect. And it is that in cases of constipation, drinking too much coffee only aggravates the symptoms since it causes dehydration. Caffeine the major ingredient in coffee is a diuretic, which causes immense dehydration since it increases the elimination of water. The colon does not receive enough fluid to process stool, and this lack of fluid makes bowel movements inconsistent. The same thing happens with alcohol.

Foods That Cause Constipation For Each Person Are Different

The foods mentioned above often cause difficulty with bowel movements. However, not everyone who eats these foods will immediately develop constipation.

Constipation can occur if food is consumed in excess. In addition, these types of food can be a cause of constipation when combined with other causes such as rarely exercising, not drinking enough fluid, or being accustomed to holding back bowel movements.

Besides, not everyone responds to these foods in the same way. For example, one gets constipated easily from eating chocolate, but it is not with others. So, this depends on the response of each body.

Apart from the foods above, there are other possible foods that can cause constipation. This is very likely to happen to people who have an allergic reaction to certain foods.

The National Health Service states that constipation is an allergic reaction to non-IgE foods. This means that the immune system that is threatened by certain substances in food does not produce antibodies, but instead orders cells called T cells to fight them.

Examples of foods that cause constipation in people with allergies include seafood, eggs, and nuts.

One last note, throwing away laxatives without medical supervision can be a very bad idea. In addition to being able to make the problem worse, they can cause dependency. Be very careful with self-medicating.

The first advice given to combat constipation is to take more fiber. The idea is not to have to resort to pills but to eat a balanced diet rich in fiber. For this, we must incorporate whole foods, fruits, legumes, and vegetables into our diet. The consumption of these foods should be accompanied by a good amount of water (a liter and a half or even two liters), precisely so that the fiber does not block in the body as it becomes a kind of jelly inside us. Gelatin that absorbs the water that reaches it forms the fecal mass and stimulates defecation. Be careful with the fiber, we must not go overboard, we must take it in its proper measure, neither fall short nor saturate the body.

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