1. Onions and Garlic
High FODMAP foods, especially garlic and onions, are known to cause a whole host of digestive issues, such as constipation, diarrhea, gas, and bloating. FODMAPs are carbohydrates that are difficult to digest for some people. As a result, these foods aren't absorbed well in the small intestine, so people sensitive to them, especially IBS sufferers, will develop digestive symptoms after eating these foods. To learn about other FODMAP foods, why they're causing an upset stomach, read the article: The Low-FODMAP Diet
Bananas are kind of tricky. On one hand, ripe bananas are among the most tolerable foods for people suffering from GI problems. On the other hand, unripe bananas can be quite constipating since they contain a lot of starches, which can be difficult for some people to digest. So, in the end, it's all about timing - simply wait for your bananas to ripen if you find that they make you constipated.
3. Red Meat
Red meat can contribute to constipation in a number of ways. Firstly, it can be quite high in fat, which typically takes more time to digest than other nutrients and so it slows down your digestive system. Second, a diet high in red meat prevents you from hitting your daily fiber intake goal, as red meat itself doesn't contain much fiber and since it's so filling, it makes you eat fewer grains, legumes, and vegetables throughout the day. This combination of high fat and low fiber make red meat a high-risk food for constipation sufferers.
4. Products High in Gluten
Gluten is a protein that is present in many grains, such as wheat, rye, barley, and others. When combined with water, gluten becomes sticky and stretchy, creating a soft and elastic dough. This is why gluten is very widespread - every pastry, bread, pasta or cereal that isn't labeled gluten-free essentially contains it. Certain people are sensitive to gluten and find that it is responsible for their digestive issues, even those not diagnosed with Celiac disease or IBS, with the most common complaints being bloating, gas, and constipation.
5. Milk and Other Dairy Products
Milk and dairy products are likewise a common cause of constipation, especially in children, for whom it's one of the primary causes of it. Unlike those who are lactose intolerant, who are more likely to suffer from diarrhea after consuming milk and dairy products, those who are sensitive to milk products can also become constipated after eating cheese or drinking milk.
6. Chewing Gum
It's definitely not true that gum can stay in your stomach for years, but it can be harmful to your GI health nevertheless. While chewing gum by itself isn't causing constipation, it can bind with other foods, especially nuts and seeds that you might have not chewed on enough, and form clumps that are more difficult to digest. So, it's best not to swallow gum if you're prone to digestive issues.
7. Fast Food and Ready-Made Meals
Like meat, fast foods, such as chips, french fries, and hamburgers, just to name a few, are particularly high in fat. This fat slows down your digestion. Apart from that, these foods are typically quite high in salt, which can further dehydrate you and absorb water from your intestine, and dehydration is one of the leading causes of constipation. Finally, these highly processed and fried foods are more often than not very low in fiber - which creates the bulk of stool and is extremely important for those prone to constipation.
8. Processed Grains
Processing leaves many foods practically devoid or very low in fiber, which, as we've already mentioned, plays a very important role in healthy nutrition. As a result, these processed grains, such as white rice, white pasta, and even white bread are rendered less healthy than they initially were. If you eat a lot of these foods we mentioned, try gradually replacing them with whole-grain foods, such as whole-wheat bread or brown rice and observe the effect.
Note, however, that fiber can cause sensitivity as well, so if you already have a fiber-rich diet, but it doesn't seem to improve your symptoms, look for another cause or try reducing your fiber intake.
Alcohol is among the most dehydrating substances one can consume, and as we've already learned, dehydration can make your stool harder and more difficult to pass, so it's one of the main causes of constipation. Apart from that, alcohol, especially tannin-rich varieties like wine, can decrease gastrointestinal motility, meaning that it can slow down the movement of food through the digestive system.
Persimmons are a popular fruit that comes from Asia - they are sweet, juicy and best of all, you can eat them whole, just like an apple. Unfortunately, people who are prone to constipation can be affected by the tannins these fruits contain. Tannins are compounds that slow down the movements and contractions of the intestines and decrease digestive secretions, making it difficult for your gut to digest food. So, if you are at a high risk of constipation, it's best to avoid this fruit.
11. Coffee and Tea
Speaking of drinks that are both dehydrating and contain tannins, coffee and tea are also on the list. Importantly, we're not talking about herbal teas, some of which can be beneficial for relieving constipation and other digestive issues, but of actual tea that comes from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, such as black or green tea. So, if your digestion feels a bit off, it's best to switch coffee and tea for herbal tea or coffee alternatives.
Interestingly, most people tend to blame their constipation on chocolate, and for many, chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, and other desserts containing cocoa or chocolate will cause constipation. However, the main reason why these foods contribute to constipation will surprise you - it's because we often use chocolate snacks to replace fruit, nuts, or veggies.
Since chocolate and chocolate desserts are typically low in fiber and high in fat, these are synonymous with fast food in terms of their risk of contributing to constipation.