Many foods in the diet can lead to constipation, the main similarity between these foods is the lack of fiber. It is rare for a specific food to cause constipation. Dietary fiber is important. It is recommended to eat 25 grams (g) of fiber per day for women and 38 g of fiber for men. Most Europeans consume only half that amount. You can ease constipation by replacing the following foods that cause it with high-fiber choices that prevent it.
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1. Dairy products
Cheese, ice cream and other dairy products are high in calcium, which has high binding properties and can lead to constipation in some people. Dairy products also lack the fiber that increases their constipating power. Toddlers and children can be especially sensitive to dairy products. In contrast, fermented dairy products such as yogurt or kefir can improve gut health and reduce the likelihood of constipation.
2. Red meat
Red meat is high in protein and often contains more fat than other types of meat, which can take longer to digest. Additionally, red meat lacks fiber, the most important nutrient when it comes to constipation. Eating red meat can replace a higher fiber option such as legumes, further worsening constipation. Instead of adding more constipating foods to your meal, make sure your steak includes plenty of fiber-rich foods like a baked potato (eat the skin) and a big salad to ease constipation.
3. Fried foods
Greasy and fried foods like fries, donuts, onion rings, and even heavily coated foods like fish take longer to digest than healthier options. Therefore, they can slow things down in your digestive tract, which is the exact opposite of what you want if you’re feeling constipated. For some people, fatty and fried foods cause more urgent and looser bowel movements. For others, eating fried, fatty foods instead of fiber sources like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can lead to constipation due to insufficient fiber intake. Fast food usually consists of one protein and one carbohydrate (burger and fries), which are not good sources of fiber.
4. Processed snacks and desserts
Chips, pretzels, cookies, pastries and other processed snacks are high in salt, processed sugar and fat and low in water. All these factors together cause constipation. These snacks are also often a poor source of fiber. If these foods replace fruits, vegetables and whole grains in the diet, they can lead to constipation due to insufficient fiber intake.
Choose foods high in water and natural sugars, such as:
If you can’t give up your salty snacks, check the fiber grams in the products and the ingredients list when shopping. There are many chips, crackers, and other snacks on the market made with whole grains, vegetables, or legumes that are good sources of fiber.
5. Refined carbohydrates
Many highly processed baked goods and snacks also contain refined carbohydrates, which can negatively affect digestion. White bread and white rice are other culprits in this category. Refined carbohydrates are stripped of fiber during processing. When you choose these foods, you’re missing out on adding fiber to your diet, which can help relieve constipation. Replacing these foods with things like whole grain bread and brown rice can help relieve constipation.
6. Frozen foods
Boxed meals may be convenient, but they rarely have the nutritional benefits of meals you prepare yourself, putting them on the list of foods that can cause constipation. Frozen dinners are usually high in salt, fat and preservatives: three key elements that are bad for the digestive system and known to wreak havoc on the digestive tract. Not all frozen foods are harmful to health and digestion. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be a convenient and economical way to increase your fiber intake and help relieve constipation. The nutritional quality of frozen foods varies, and reading labels is essential. Look for foods that contain fiber from vegetables and whole grains while limiting saturated fat.
Interestingly, bananas can either be a cause of constipation or a source of constipation relief, depending on how ripe they are. Bananas, when fully ripe, contain soluble fiber and can therefore help treat constipation. However, unripe or green bananas have high levels of resistant starch, which can be very astringent and cause constipation. For this reason, unripe bananas can be used to treat diarrhea.