Constipation, the sneaky troublemaker that likes to mess with our digestive system, has plagued countless individuals. It's like a puzzle with missing pieces—frustrating and uncomfortable.
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?
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:
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:
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
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:
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:
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:
You can also choose to switch to healthier alternatives to alcohol, such as:
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:
Red meat includes beef, lamb, mutton, veal, and venison.
Red meat can trigger your constipation symptoms. This is because:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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Unripe bananas can be binding for your stomach and cause constipation. This is because they contain high levels of starch.
Potatoes don't usually cause constipation. It helps relieve constipation. If you feel potatoes make you constipated, you can lower your intake or consult your dietician.
Warm milk can be good for constipation since it is rich in soluble and insoluble fibres. Though milk taken when your digestive fire is weak can cause constipation more due to indigestion.
Processed foods are high in fats and low in fibre. This causes pressure on the colon and slows down the digestive system.
If you are suffering from constipation, you can start by changing your diet and lifestyle to help improve the movement of stool. If these don't work, you can consult your doctor for medication and surgery.