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Role of diet in Constipation

Feeling constipated gives a huge blocker feel. Around 22% of Indians suffer from constipation. Consumption of junk food, low water intake and irregular eating habits seem to be the biggest cause of constipation. Constipation occurs when bowel movements become infrequent or difficult to pass. Understanding the causes of constipation is crucial for effective management. In this article, we will explore the types of constipation, delve into their underlying factors, discuss the causes of constipation, and highlight the importance of proper diagnosis and treatment. 

There are different types of constipation. You can read them here:

While several factors can contribute to constipation, including lifestyle habits, medical conditions, and medications, diet plays a crucial role in its development and management.

The diet that we consume can either promote regular bowel movements or contribute to digestive sluggishness. A high-fiber diet with good water intake can promote bowel movement, while a diet lacking fiber, essential nutrients, and adequate hydration can lead to constipation by slowing down the movement of stool through the digestive tract. Incorporating the right types of foods in your diet can help regulate bowel movements, soften stools, and alleviate constipation symptoms.

Common Causes of Constipation

Let’s look at the major causes of constipation:

  1. Low fiber in diet: Inadequate Fiber in the diet is one of the primary reasons for constipation. Fiber adds bulk to the stool, making it easier to pass through the digestive tract. Fibre-rich foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables should be consumed in the required quantity and when they are not consumed it can lead to hardened stools and difficulty in bowel movements.
  2. Low Fluid Intake: Water is the second most important thing after fiber. Water keeps the food and waste moving in the body. Inadequate hydration can contribute to constipation. When the body lacks sufficient fluids, it absorbs water from the colon, resulting in dry and hard stools. 
  3. Sedentary Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity or a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to constipation. Regular exercise helps stimulate the muscles in the intestines, promoting bowel movements.
  4. Certain Medications: Some medicines also might cause constipation as a side effect. Painkillers, antacids, and antidepressants are known to cause constipation

Foods that cause Constipation

Diet is of extreme importance when it comes to constipation. Let’s look at the foods that might be causing constipation – 

  1. Processed foods: Chips, and fast food are big culprits. They have very low fiber and can also slow down the movement of stool through the digestive system. The intake of such food should be limited 
  2. Dairy Products: A lot of people are lactose intolerant and in those cases, dairy products like cheese, milk, ice cream can contribute to constipation. If you suspect that dairy is a trigger for your constipation, consider reducing or eliminating your consumption of dairy products and exploring lactose-free alternatives.
  3. Unripe Bananas: Unripe bananas are known to be binding and can contribute to constipation. They contain higher levels of resistant starch, which is more difficult to digest. Opt for ripe bananas instead, as they are easier to digest and have a softer texture, making them more gentle on the digestive system.
  4. Processed Grains: Processed grains like white bread, white rice, and pasta made from refined flour can all cause constipation. Choose whole grains instead, as they contain more fiber and promote healthy digestion.
  5. Fried and Fatty Foods: Fried foods and foods high in unhealthy fats can slow down digestion and contribute to constipation. These foods are often low in fiber and can be difficult for the body to process. Limit your intake of fried foods, greasy snacks, and high-fat meals, and focus on incorporating healthier fats from sources like avocados, nuts, and seeds.
  6. Banana Chips: While ripe bananas can be beneficial for relieving constipation, banana chips are a different story. Banana chips are often deep-fried and contain added sugars and unhealthy fats. These factors can contribute to constipation. Instead, opt for fresh ripe bananas as a healthier alternative.
  7. Alcohol: Alcohol causes dehydration in the body which then further leads to constipation. When the fluids are not sufficient, the body draws water from the colon leading to hard and dry stools

Foods that Aid in Relieving Constipation

Certain foods provide great relief for dealing with constipation. Constipation can be completely managed by making the diet right. Certain foods have natural laxative properties or contain fiber that promotes healthy bowel movements. Including these foods in your diet can help alleviate constipation symptoms and maintain regularity. Let’s explore some of the foods that aid in relieving constipation:

  1. Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are packed with fiber and are excellent for relieving constipation. When soaked in water and consumed they form a gel-like substance in the digestive tract. This softens the stool and facilitates its passage. One can add chia seeds to a smoothie bowl or any shake for more fiber
  2. Berries: Berries like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are rich in fiber. They contain soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which contribute to improved bowel movements. These berries can be mixed in oatmeal or taken along with fruits. 
  3. Leafy Greens: Leafy green vegetables like spinach are very nutritious and also promote healthy bowel movements. They are rich in fiber, magnesium, and other essential nutrients that support healthy digestion. 
  4. Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are also very rich in fiber and fats. They help add bulk to the stool and promote regular bowel movements. The best way to consume flaxseeds is by grinding them. The grinding enhances the digestibility and allows for better absorption. Add ground flaxseeds to your smoothies, sprinkle them on yogurt, or incorporate them into baking recipes.
  5. Yogurt/Curd/Buttermilk: Yogurt is not only a probiotic-rich food but also a source of beneficial bacteria that support gut health. The probiotics in yogurt help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria and promote regular bowel movements. 
  6. Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a fibre-rich whole grain that can help relieve constipation. It contains soluble fiber, which absorbs water and adds bulk to the stool, facilitating its passage through the digestive tract. Enjoy a warm bowl of oatmeal topped with fruits and nuts for a nourishing and constipation-relieving breakfast.
  7. Papaya: Papaya is also very widely known for its digestive properties. It contains an enzyme called papain. This enzyme aids in digestion and promotes regular bowel movements. Enjoy fresh papaya in a fruit bowl for its natural laxative properties.
  8. Kiwi: Kiwi is a delicious fruit that is high in fiber and contains natural laxative properties. It also provides an enzyme called actinidin, which aids in digestion and promotes bowel regularity. Enjoy a ripe kiwi as a snack or incorporate it into fruit salads and smoothies.
  9. Pears: Pears are juicy fruits that are rich in fiber, particularly insoluble fiber. They provide hydration and add bulk to the stool, making them an excellent choice for relieving constipation. 

Heal my gut

Gastroenterologists, Nutritionists, and Care Navigators available to provide relief from digestive issues like IBS, GERD, Bloating, Constipation, Acidity and others


By identifying trigger foods and eliminating them and adding fiber and water to the diet one can get rid of constipation. 

A nutritionist plays a crucial role in managing constipation through personalized dietary interventions. Nutritionists are able to provide guidance and immense support. They are able to constantly monitor the diet and symptoms. They are also able to quickly provide improvisations to it. They create a well-balanced diet that includes an adequate intake of fibre, fluids, and other nutrients necessary for optimal digestive health. Nutritionists can also help you identify trigger foods that may be contributing to your constipation and develop strategies to overcome it. 

Remember, everyone’s body is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It is important to listen to your body, experiment with different dietary approaches, and seek professional guidance when needed. 


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