Constipation Foods: 5 Foods to Avoid and 5 to Eat (cont.)

Medical Reviewer:

In one study, researchers in Germany asked people who had constipation to name the foods they thought caused it. Chocolate was mentioned most frequently.

2. Dairy Products

In large quantities, dairy products, such as milk and cheese, can cause many people to become constipated. "It is unknown if it is dairy itself," King says "or if it's a combination of things. However, the lactose in dairy can cause increased gas and bloating. That can make you feel even worse if things aren't moving through properly."

One study of Iranian children, ages 1 to 13, found that dairy products could be the cause of their constipation. Almost all the children (80 percent) who eliminated cow's milk and milk products from their diet had more regular bowel movements.

3. Red Meat

There are plenty of reasons not to eat a lot of red meat. One is that eating a large portion of red meat can make you constipated. A number of things make red meat constipating, King says. It's high in fat, so it takes longer for the digestive tract to process it. It also has tough protein fibers that can be difficult for your stomach to digest. Also, red meat is rich in iron, which can be constipating. Kings advice: Limit your intake of red meat.

4. Bananas

Bananas are a conundrum when it comes to constipation foods to avoid. It's a matter of timing: Unripe bananas can cause constipation; Ripe bananas can help relieve constipation.

Green bananas cause constipation because they still have a lot of starch, which can be hard for the body to digest. Bananas also contain pectin (fiber) that draws water from the intestines toward the stool. "So if someone is already dehydrated, this can only [worsen] the problem," King says.

5. Caffeine

Like bananas, caffeine can go either way. Caffeine is a stimulant that can make have more bowel movements. But if you're dehydrated, you may find that the caffeine in coffee, black tea, and chocolate only makes you more constipated.

Author: Beth W. Orenstein

Kristi L. King, MPH, RD, CNSC, LD, Texas Children's Hospital.
Attaluri, A. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, April 2011.
Drummond, L. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research. 2013.
Chang, CC. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010.
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Muller-Lissner, SA. European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology. January 2005.
Dehghani, S., Iranian Journal of Pediatrics, December 2012.

Last Editorial Review: 8/28/2013 7:34:36 PM