Constipation Food
Which Foods Help,
Which don't

By Dr. Shrey Lakhotia, BDS
Constipation food

One of the main causes of constipation is the food we eat. What we eat and even how we eat has a far reaching impact on bowel function. 

Foods that Cause Constipation

Many of the foods that Americans normally eat tend towards constipation. 

According to the American Dietetic Association, we need 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day from plant sources, including both soluble and insoluble fiber. But most Americans get only half this amount. 

These days people eat way too many refined and processed foods from which the natural fiber has been removed. They also tend to be high in sugar and salt, both of which tend to produce constipation.

Dairy products

Cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products act as “binding” or constipating foods. This is due to their hard to digest fat and lack of fiber.

Fried foods

Oily fried foods like french fries, doughnuts, onion rings, and heavily breaded foods like fish have a tendency to slow down the movement of the bowels. Potato chips are especially high in fat, causing a delay in digestion.


Consuming too much zero fiber meat can lead to constipation, especially if it isn’t balanced out with other fiber rich items. Besides a lack of fiber, meat is hard for the body to digest, causing it to linger longer in the colon. This slows down the whole digestive process, resulting in constipation.

Sources of refined carbohydrates

Pastries, cakes, and many crackers cause constipation, since they are low in fiber, have little fluid, and are high in fat.


These can either be a cause of constipation or a source of constipation relief, depending on their ripeness. Unripe bananas contain 40% hard to digest starch. 

In ripe bananas, most of this starch has been broken down to sugars, so that the banana’s high soluble fiber content can effectively help to push waste through the bowels, and relieve constipation.

Foods that Help to Relieve Constipation

  • Prunes: Dried prunes are one of the most common home remedies for constipation. This is because they are rich in fiber and also vitamin A and potassium which is a great constipation food.
vegetables - constipation food
  • Pears: Pears function as natural laxatives and thus ease the movement of stool through the bowels.
  • Broccoli: Broccoli has numerous health benefits, including being a very rich source of fiber, so helpful for constipation relief.

  • Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds (not in oil form) is another natural food which can be used for constipation relief. Flax is full of fiber, plus is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Carrots: Raw carrots are full of fiber and can improve bowel movements. On the other hand cooked carrots may possibly lead to constipation.

  • Beans: Most beans and peas, including baked beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, and Lima beans, have a fair amount of fiber, and help one to avoid constipation and maintain a healthy digestive system.

  • Peaches: Dried or fresh peaches are packed with fiber which is useful for constipation relief.

  • Pineapple Juice: One cup of unsweetened pineapple juice provides around 0.5 grams of fiber and 8 ounces of fluid. The natural plant enzymes found in pineapple juice are believed to play a role in improved bowel function.

  • Figs : Figs help make the stool softer for easier digestion due to its rich fiber content making it a great constipation food.

  • Whole Grains: Foods rich in whole grains such as whole grain breads, oatmeal and bran cereal are rich sources of fiber and are helpful for healthy bowel movements.

Not getting enough magnesium may cause constipation

Research studies have shown that the amount of magnesium in food sources is dropping.

Magnesium deficiency has been detected in people with numerous chronic diseases, including constipation.

Inside the gut cavity, magnesium ions (and other ions like sulphate) exert an osmotic effect and cause water to be retained in the lumen. This causes an increase in the moistness of the stool, resulting in the stool being softer, slicker and bulkier, which greatly helps with elimination.

Thus, when our magnesium intake is deficient, it can easily result in constipation.

Over-the-counter osmotic laxatives like Milk of Magnesia and Epson Salt, plus those prescribed by a doctor, are not recommended for continued use.

However, a magnesium supplement is safe to use over long periods of time due to its comparatively lower magnesium content. Yet, magnesium supplements may still prove quite effective in solving chronic constipation problems.

Plus, since most Americans don’t get the magnesium they need, taking a magnesium supplement may result in numerous health benefits.


Since magnesium may interfere with certain medications, consult your doctor before beginning a magnesium regimen. Diseased kidneys may have trouble processing excess magnesium from the body, and magnesium toxicity may result. Don't take a magnesium supplement if you have kidney disease unless it is recommended by a physician.

(Return from Constipation Food to Foods for Constipation)

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