Diet and Constipation

baby eating cake - diet and constipation

Diet and Constipation. Constipation is a common problem in the United States. In many cases, this constipation is directly related to the person’s diet. So the question is, which foods cause constipation, and which ones help to relieve it?

Let's examine various categories of food and their effect on a person's digestive tract.

Diet and Constipation - the Breakdown

Dairy products

Whether it is cheese, milk, ice cream, or some other variety of dairy product, dairy is one of the main culprits of constipation.

But why do dairy products tend to cause constipation? It is because milk products are high in hard to digest fat and low in fiber. Foods that are not easily digested stay in the colon longer. The more that foods stay in the colon, the more water the colon extracts from them. 

This produces stools that are dry, hard and difficult to expel. This is why it is said that diary products are “binding”. 


Grains can lessen constipation, or they can make it worse.

The fiber in grains helps to ease constipation, but when this fiber is refined out grains can become a problem. When we consume white bread, a doughnut, or a sandwich bun from a fast food restaurant, most of the fiber has been removed, making it more difficult on the digestive tract.

A good rule of thumb when looking at diet and constipation is that the more food is processed before you eat it, the more difficult it is for your body to process it. In contrast, the following grain products can help to relieve constipation.

  • Whole Grain Products (bread, pasta, crackers, etc.)
  • Brown Rice
  • High-Fiber Cereals

Fried foods

Our bodies take extra time to digest greasy, fatty, fried junk food. The result?

Everything else backs up behind it. If a person is struggling with constipation, they may need to cut out some of their favorite comfort foods, including:

  • Potato Chips
  • French Fries (and fast food in general)
  • Fried Chicken

In reference to diet and constipation, try baking, boiling, or broiling foods to avoid frying. Another option is to fry them in coconut oil. This is an excellent substitute for vegetable oils. It is one of the healthiest oils to consume, plus can help to ease constipation.

Because of the health perks, I like to take 2 tablespoons a day in one form or another. I even spread it on my bread in place of butter.


People love meat, but since meat doesn't contain fiber, it doesn't help with constipation.

When we eat a lot of meat, we tend to eat less of other foods that contain fiber. For a meat and potatoes kind of person, a good plan is to have more potatoes than meat, and to be sure to eat the skins, since that is where most the fiber is.

Red meats, especially those high in fatty compounds, can be more of a problem than lean meats. Fat is difficult for us to digest, so it is held longer in the colon.

As noted above, this tends to dry out the stool. For less constipation, try consuming more of the following types of meats:

  • Fish
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Lean Beef

Fruits and Vegetables

This is the category of food that can help a person to overcome constipation when looking at diet and constipation.

Veggies and fruits are higher in fiber than most other foods. Some of the best are:

  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Squash
  • Berries
  • Prunes
  • Plums
  • Peaches
  • Raisins

Starchy foods that may be safely added to their diet are corn and potatoes, but once again, be sure to leave the skins on the potatoes.

Here are some tips on how to get more fruits and vegetables into our diet.

  • Try substituting fruit as a dessert.
  • Add it to cereal in the morning (remember to keep the cereal high in fiber too).
  • Use raisins for snacking.
  • Try eating more salads. Choose a salad as an appetizer.

As we eat more vegetables and fruit, we will find ourselves eating less foods that can cause constipation.

Legumes and nuts

Beans and nuts can help with digestion if a person eats the right ones.
Try the following:

Chick peas

Kidney beans





Including magnesium in the diet

As America has moved from organic farming to chemical farming, foods have decreased in many nutrients, including magnesium. In fact, because it is so hard to get enough magnesium these days in the foods we eat, some doctors routinely recommend taking a magnesium supplement

Magnesium is needed to balance the constipating effect of calciumNot only does it help to relax a tense colon, it helps to pull water into the colon. This moistens the stool, making it soft, slick and bulkier. We need some bulk to naturally stimulate the colon to keep stool moving along.

If a person isn't getting enough magnesium (and 80% of Americans don’t), the magnesium in a magnesium supplement may result in numerous health benefitsBesides this, some magnesium supplements also contain valuable trace minerals.

Maintaining the right diet

The above dietary suggestions are not just for those who are trying to overcome constipation. Maintaining a healthy diet can help constipation from becoming a problem in the first place.

By avoiding constipation triggers, many have been able to stay regular and avoid the pain and numerous symptoms caused by constipation.

(Return from Diet and Constipation to Foods for Constipation)

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