According to the National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse, approximately 15 percent of Americans have constipation. Apparently, the most likely candidates for back-up are women, adults 65 and older, non-Caucasians and those in lower socioeconomic classes. Constipation can result from several factors such as inadequate water consumption, insufficient fiber, pregnancy and sedentary lifestyle. To promote regularity, men should consume at least 38 grams of fiber per day and women should consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day.
Certain foods are more constipating, so it is helpful to know what foods have a tendency to back you up. Here is a list of foods that commonly cause constipation, so if you struggle with going No. 2, you should avoid these foods:
- Bananas—Green bananas are higher in starch, which can result in constipation because of tannins. These bitter chemicals cause constipation in some people, but not all. Remember the BRAT diet for treating diarrhea? The “B” stood for bananas!
- Bread—You don’t need a gluten allergy or wheat allergy to be bothered by bread. The digestive tract does not always break down and absorb bread, so the sugars in bread often ferment and produce gas.
- Chips—Although these snacks are irresistible in the texture and taste department, they are poor in nutrients. Chips are low in fiber and high in fat, resulting in a lose-lose combination when it comes to constipation. Unfortunately, almost any other side dish is healthier than chips, so eat them sparingly.
- Chocolate—The newest hype is that dark chocolate is good for you, but this is only true in moderation. Chocolate actually slows down the digestive process and is among the worst culprits for causing constipation.
- Frozen dinners—Lean Cuisine and Stouffer’s may be convenient and easy on the pocketbook, but they are hard on the gut. Frozen meals are high in fat, sodium and preservatives and low in fiber. The processing of foods removes fiber and makes it difficult for the body to push waste through the GI tract.
- Red meat—Hamburgers, steak and pot roast are American favorites, but red meat causes digestive problems because it remains in the stomach for a longer period of time compared to other foods. Do you know that “extra full feeling” you have after eating a big beef dinner? This feeling is due to the fact that the meat is so slow to digest.
The answer is not to eliminate all six of these foods from your diet. Rather, pair these constipating foods with fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains so your digestive system remains in balance. Your body needs a variety of foods to absorb all the vitamins and nutrients it needs, so eat all foods in moderate amounts. Drinking plenty of water and getting adequate exercise is also necessary for a healthy digestive system that functions properly.
If you are struggling with constipation, keep a food diary and record the foods that you eat. This way, you can isolate which foods or combination of foods may be causing discomfort. Chronic constipation should never be ignored and should be addressed with a doctor if it continues (Source: Medical Daily).