12 mins read

10 Foods That Trigger Constipation (with Healthier Alternatives)


medically reviewed by Dr Godmi Tresa

Dr. Bhavya

Updated on October 17, 2023

Constipation, the sneaky troublemaker that likes to mess with our gut, has plagued countless individuals. It's like a puzzle with missing pieces—frustrating and uncomfortable. So, how to improve gut health naturally? Read on to find out.

Brace yourself for this shocking statistic: the National Institute of Health reveals that a whopping 2–7% of the population grapples with chronic constipation. That's a whole lot of people struggling to find relief! But wait, there's more! As if constipation alone wasn't enough, it often brings unwelcome sidekicks like bloating and gas, affecting 27% of adults. Yikes!

Now, picture this: Imagine several culprits conspiring against your digestive well-being. It's like a scene from a detective movie, except the villains aren't masked burglars—they're foods that dare to trigger constipation! 

From stress-packed lifestyles to overreliance on laxatives, digestive disorders, medications, and even the innocent-looking items in your pantry, it turns out that what you eat and your diet can be the primary culprit behind constipation struggles.

In this gripping blog, we're here to spill the beans (and other constipation-causing foods) as we reveal the notorious top 10 foods and drinks that leave your digestion high and dry. Get ready to uncover the secret villains that can clog up your system and heighten those frustrating symptoms. 

So, buckle up and join us on this intriguing journey to better understand the enemies lurking in your diet, threatening your smooth digestive flow. Let's dive in, shall we?

Jump to section

Foods and Drinks that Cause Constipation

Gluten-Containing Food

Even if you follow a balanced diet, sometimes you may experience bloating and constipation. How? Enter gluten, the sly culprit behind these troublesome tummy woes.

Gluten, a mighty protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and more, holds a notorious reputation as one of the primary culprits when it comes to causing constipation. Its presence in our beloved foods can stir up trouble, leading to uncomfortable digestive symptoms. 

In fact, for some unlucky souls, consuming gluten can set off a chain reaction of discomfort, signalling a complete intolerance to this pesky protein—cue the entrance of gluten intolerance, better known as celiac disease.

One of the most common symptoms of celiac disease is chronic constipation. It can also lead to diarrhoea and trigger irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

Now that we've exposed gluten's sneaky role in constipation, it's time to uncover the gluten-containing troublemakers that should be banished from your plate when constipation strikes. 

Here's our handy list of gluten-containing foods to avoid when seeking relief from constipation.

If you feel gluten is the cause of your constipation, you can consult a physician to rule out celiac disease. Once you've ruled it out, you can consume various levels of gluten and see how it's impacting you. 

You can also choose dietary and lifestyle alternatives to gluten. Ayurveda offers many such options. 

Gluten intolerance comes under Asatmya (intolerance) in Ayurveda. The root cause of it—as per Ayurveda—lies in Agni or the digestive fire. Gluten-containing foods lead to Agnimandaya (low digestive fire) that leaves undigested food or Ama in the body, causing constipation. You can directly link it to the Grahani (spruce) condition in Ayurveda.

Some of the home remedies that can help with gluten sensitivity are: 

  • Fennel and Cumin Water - Add both cumin and fennel in equal proportions, strain, and drink the mixture.
  • Baelgiri juice - Sourced from the Bael fruit, you can consume a fresh juice of Bael every day to relieve your gluten intolerance symptoms. 
  • Apple - You can take steamed apples twice a day.
  • Fenugreek seeds - Boil fenugreek seeds in water for 10 minutes. Strain and consume on an empty stomach. You can also add some jaggery to it if you want. 

Milk and Dairy Products

2. Milk and dairy products.png

Dairy products are at the top among the foods that cause constipation. This is because of the high protein content in milk and other dairy-based products such as cheese, cream, butter, and yoghurt.

It's no surprise that many people with lactose intolerance suffer from constipation. In about 30% of cases, lactose intolerance could cause constipation. One study also found children at risk of constipation due to exposure to protein from cow's milk. 

You may wonder why dairy products cause constipation. Here's the answer! 

The milk that many of us consume usually falls under processed food. This is because you will find it almost always pasteurised - To kill any milk-borne bacteria. While this is helpful, it also kills valuable enzymes that can help you digest the milk. 

Coming to Ayurveda, milk is considered a youth elixir or Rasayana. It has a cooling and Kapha-increasing effect on the body. 

However, the milk and dairy that Ayurveda considers Sattvik (pure and balanced) is different from the processed milk of today. The milk that Ayurveda suggests is organic, non-homogenised milk straight from the udder. 

Like above, Ayurveda also considers processed milk harmful and Tamasic (which makes the mind and body sluggish). That is why Ayurveda experts consider that pasteurisation makes milk difficult to digest and blocks body channels(srotas).

In some cases, changing how you consume dairy can help ease your constipation. Here are some of how to consume dairy as per Ayurveda: 

  • Avoid drinking cold milk right out of the refrigerator.
  • Boil milk properly. Allow it to foam up, then keep it on a slow boil for about 5–10 minutes. This helps in reducing Kapha and makes it easier to digest. 
  • Reduce milk's heaviness or mucus-causing effect by adding a pinch of turmeric, ground black pepper, or a cinnamon stick.
  • Start drinking milk gradually if you last consumed milk a while ago. Begin with 1/8th of a cup of boiled milk with ginger. You can increase the amount to a full cup within ten days. 
  • You can consume warm milk for 30 minutes before going to bed. 
  • Avoid meals cooked with milk, such as clam chowder. 
  • Combine warm milk with sweet foods such as rice, dates, mangoes, and almonds. 
  • Consume warm milk an hour after your meals. 
  • Avoid dairy products in spring. This is because the Kapha is high in spring. The body expels the mucus gathered during winter as the temperatures become warm outside. Since dairy products block the circulation channels, it can have an adverse effect.

If you feel dairy products are causing constipation, it's best to avoid them. However, replacing the essential protein and calcium they provide from other sources is important. 

Some of the dietary substitutes for dairy can be 

  • Foods include sardines, green leafy vegetables (like pak choi, broccoli, and cabbage), sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, figs, and almonds. 
  • Milk includes coconut, unsweetened almonds, oat, and rice milk.
  • Dairy-Free Probiotics such as non-vinegar pickles.

Fried and Fast Food

We all indulge in burgers, pizzas, potato chips, and the like. They are tasty for sure, but they increase the risk of constipation. 

Junk foods in large quantities are one of the first constipation foods to avoid. This is because they are high in fats and low in fibre, which slows the digestion process. 

Many times, if you're too addicted to fast foods such as chips, cookies, and ice cream, it can replace the healthier, fibre-rich options in your diet—such as fruits and vegetables. This will reduce your total consumption of fibre in a day. 

There's one more problem with fast food. It contains lots of salt, reducing the fluid content in your stool. This makes the stool hard and difficult to pass. This is the body's reason to restore the salt concentration by sucking up water from your intestines. 

Here are some healthier options you can choose instead of junk food: 

  • Herbal Teas Instead of Caffeine - Caffeine is a common food that causes constipation. It's also a vasoconstrictor, i.e. it narrows down your blood vessels. Slowly transition from ditching caffeine to adopting herbal teas that make your body feel light and help in good digestion.
  • Fresh Fruit Bowls Instead of Ice Creams - Ice Creams are cold and make your digestion sluggish. They reduce the speed and strength of your Agni. On the other hand, fresh fruits are a healthier option and contain rich antioxidants.  
  • Bananas Instead of Potato Chips - You tend to crave salty foods when potassium is deficient in your body. Instead of reaching over to a packet of chips, you can consume bananas. They are rich in potassium and help balance your body's water content.
  • Dry Fruits Instead of Cookies - Cookies are another food that dumps unhealthy sugar into your body. They lead to constipation and increase the risk of high blood sugar levels. On the contrary, dry fruits are rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Dry fruits such as prunes, raisins and almonds can be healthier and easily digested after being soaked overnight.


Alcohol is one of the predominant constipation foods to avoid in your diet. It's a central nervous system depressant and can hamper your bowel movements. 

Some of how alcohol can cause constipation are: 

  • Increasing Dehydration - Alcohol reduces the secretion of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which is the hormone that normally sends signals to the body to retain water. With a deficiency of ADH, you will need to pee more. The process contributes to constipation because the stools become hard and difficult to pass. 
  • Inhibiting Peristalsis - Drinks that have an alcohol content of more than 15% inhibit peristalsis (intestinal movements). As a result, it makes the gastrointestinal motility or the digestion process slower, making you feel constipated. 
  • Heightening the Growth of Gut Bacteria - Chronic and excessive alcohol consumption may lead to an imbalance in the gut microbiota, with a reduction in beneficial bacteria and an overgrowth of potentially harmful bacteria. This imbalance, known as dysbiosis, can negatively affect gut health and overall well-being.

According to Ayurveda, alcohol gets considered a toxin when consumed excessively, which can harm one's health. Why? - Due to alcohol's properties that directly oppose the vital essence or energy that supports overall well-being, known as OJUS. Alcohol may have properties that can create heat and dryness within the body. These properties happen to be rough and sharp, which can disrupt the body's natural balance.

The heating and drying effects of alcohol increase Rajas which causes agitation. The dulling effects of alcohol increase Tamas, which induces sluggishness. 

You can introduce some healthy drinking habits into your routine by following these tips: 

  • Alternate With Water - After consuming an alcoholic beverage, you can consume water or anything that contains electrolytes. 
  • Skip Caffeinated Drinks - Avoid beverages that contain caffeine since it's a natural diuretic, i.e. it increases the quantity of water and salt released from the body as urine. This leads to constipation.
  • Introduce Probiotics - Probiotics help introduce healthy bacteria into your gut and improve digestion. 

You can also choose to switch to healthier alternatives to alcohol, such as:

  • Matcha Tea - A type of green tea sourced from ground-up tea leaves, it is high in antioxidants and helps improve digestion.
  • Kombucha - This fermented tea is high in probiotics and is good for your digestive system.
  • Coconut Water - This natural beverage helps you rehydrate since it contains electrolytes. 
  • Guarana and Ginseng - These natural stimulants help reduce stress and anxiety and boost focus which helps relieve constipation symptoms.

Low-Fibre Food

low fibre food.png

Are you missing out on fibre from your diet? If your diet contains low-fibre foods, it can cause constipation. 

Dietary fibres are the edible parts of plants or carbohydrates that the body can't digest. 

There are two types of them - soluble and insoluble. 

Soluble fibres dissolve in water and make your stool softer. 

Insoluble fibres add water to your stool and make it easier to pass. 

Foods Comprising High Soluble Fibres: Dried beans, oats, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, peas, and potatoes

Foods Containing High Insoluble Fibre like Wheat bran, whole grains, cereals, and skin of most fruits and green vegetables.

Both types of fibres are good for easing your constipation problems. 

Some other high-fibre foods are: 

  • Prunes - A single piece of prune contains 3 grams of fibre. They also contain sorbitol which is a natural laxative. 
  • Apples - It's rich in both soluble and insoluble fibres. It also contains pectin, which helps add bulk to the stool.
  • Pears - One pear can add to 15% of your daily dietary fibre requirement. 
  • Kiwi - It contains at least three grams of fibre. It's also rich in vitamins C and K, potassium and copper. 
  • Spinach - Spinach has high water content, which helps in stool movement. 
  • Artichoke - It contains about six grams of fibre. It's also rich in antioxidants and vitamins C and K. 
  • Chia seeds - Adding chia seeds to your food, desserts and juices can be a healthy alternative. Chia seeds can expand, contain a good amount of water, and help win forming bulk in stools.

Red Meat

Red meat includes beef, lamb, mutton, veal, and venison. 

Red meat can trigger your constipation symptoms. This is because: 

  • Red meat's high fat, low fibre content may increase constipation risk. Replacing fibre-rich foods exacerbates the risk further.

Reducing your consumption of red meat can help reduce the chances of constipation. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from that can replace your diet with healthier proteins and fibres. 

  • Nuts - Almonds, macadamias, cashews, pistachios, and hazelnuts are good sources of monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA) fatty acids. Moreover, they also contain soluble and insoluble fibres, Vitamins E and K, folate, and thiamine. They help improve your metabolism and ease constipation symptoms. 
  • Fish - Fish such as salmon contain unsaturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids. They are good for your heart and for reducing the effects of constipation.
  • Legumes - Legumes such as lentils and green beans are high in proteins, fibres, vitamin B, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. It contains very less fat and cholesterol and is good for reducing your constipation symptoms. 
  • Eggs - Eggs can beat red meat in proteins any day. Moreover, it contains less saturated fats and eases your constipation symptoms. 

Processed Grains

Whole grains are beneficial for your health and also don't cause constipation. However, processed grains such as white bread, pasta, and rice can worsen your competition since the bran and germ get removed for processed grains. This means the fibre is gone since bran contains fibre. Fibre helps ease the movement of stool. 

This is why replacing the processed grains in your diet with whole grains can improve constipation. 

Here are some alternatives to refined grains you can try out: 

  • Black Rice - It contains anthocyanins which are powerful antioxidants. It's also rich in fibre, protein, vitamins, and minerals. This means it can make passing your stool easier. 
  • Millets - They are extremely high in protein and calcium. Moreover, they are easy to digest too. 
  • Quinoa - Not only does it contain high plant-based proteins but also essential amino acids, fibres, vitamins and minerals. Hence, it can be an ideal option if you feel constipated.
  • Buckwheat - It's gluten-free and contains high amounts of protein and fibre. It's a good alternative to white rice. 
  • Oats - They, too, are high in fibre and are gluten-free as well. Moreover, they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins. They are excellent for digestive health and help prevent constipation. 


Many believe that caffeine is good for digestive health. This is because it stimulates the digestive muscles, contracts them, and leads to bowel movements. 

However, there's also something else that many miss out on. This is because caffeine can cause dehydration, making you more constipated. 

Ayurveda experts believe that coffee can be tri-doshically disruptive. It can cause imbalances in all three doshas - Vata, Kapha, and Pitta. 

You can ease your constipation symptoms by replacing coffee with healthier habits in several ways. Some of these are: 

  • Start reducing your coffee intake per week. You can start by reducing ½ cup each week. 
  • Add cardamom to your coffee to reduce the negative effects of caffeine. 
  • Replace coffee with another natural drink, such as herbal tea. 
  • Start building your natural energy through exercise. 
  • Follow a healthy diet and eat your meals at the proper times. 



Persimmon is native to Asia and has a sweet and tangy flavour. They can be either astringent or non-astringent. 

The problem with persimmon is that it contains huge amounts of tannins. These reduce your gut secretions and contractions and slows down bowel movements causing constipation. 

This is why you should avoid persimmon, especially the astringent varieties if you have constipation. 

You can go for some healthy substitutes such as: 

  • Fuyus is a non-astringent persimmon that can be consumed firm, like an apple. 
  • Sharon Fruit is reddish-orange and has a sweet taste with a slight hint of almond and cinnamon. It's also rich in fibre and vitamins A and C. 
  • Quince - It has a texture similar to persimmon but is not sweet. It's also rich in dietary fibre and vitamin C. 
  • Plums - These can be consumed raw, dried, or cooked. They contain high amounts of vitamins and calcium. 
  • Pineapples - They also have a sweet flavour with a hint of acidic taste. They are rich in vitamin C and help boost the immune system. 


Chocolate is a strict no-no if you're suffering from constipation. This is because it contains a lot of fat which can slow down the digestion process. This happens because chocolate slows down muscle contractions, also known as peristalsis. As a result, food movement down the bowel also slows down. 

Some of the healthier alternatives you can go for instead of chocolate are: 

  • Fresh Fruits will satisfy your sweet craving and provide the necessary fibres, vitamins and minerals. This will help your digestion process better. 
  • Protein - You can replace chocolate with healthy proteins such as Greek yoghurt, hard-boiled eggs, or cottage cheese. 
  • Snacks - You can choose healthier snacks such as nuts mix, popcorn, vegetables and hummus, or olives. 
  • Magnesium-Rich Food - Replace chocolate with other foods rich in magnesium. This will ease your constipation and care for your craving—almonds, cashews, peanuts, and edamame.  

Many more food and food products can cause constipation. Ayurvedic experts believe that constipation is an act of weak Agni ( digestive fire). Eating according to your Prakriti ( body constitution ) is also important as certain foods may be constipating to certain Prakriti.

Ayurveda explains that any food that has an excess of Lavana ( Salty), Katu ( Spicy ) and Kasaya (Astringent ) tastes can lead to constipation.

Get Relief from Gut Health Issues Naturally!

Book a free consultationP

Frequently Asked Questions