FOODS FOR CONSTIPATION: HOW TO EAT THEM AND WHY
- Medically reviewed by: Horia Marculescu, MD
- Photo credits: Licenses / Author
- Last updated: 27.07.2021
The right combination of foods for constipation like meat with vegetables, cheese with vegetables or eating fruits only on an empty stomach, are the best ways to relieve constipation on long-term.
Food rich in dietary fiber and nutrients contains all the elements needed for good intestinal transit and proper digestion.
The problem is, many combinations damage the intestinal transit and lining. Here are some examples:
- white bread, potatoes, fries
- sugar, glucose, carbonated drinks, and water
- rough foods based on sugar
- hard to digest foods that stay blocked in the intestines for more than 10 hours like meat, cheese products, and foods that contain eggs
The majority of the foods we eat every day in the wrong combinations like white flour, bread, potatoes, fast food, sugary drinks and alcohol combined with meat, cheese, and fruits, stay blocked in our intestines for long periods of time disturbing digestion.
The reason for these problems is that certain types of food like flour, potatoes, sugar, cheese and fat need more time and water to digest in the small intestine. Also, the composition reacts differently with water and other substances.
As an example, these are two bad combinations of foods for constipation:
- bread with meat
- potatoes with meat
After eating these two combinations, the foods will mix in the intestines and form a stool that is very hard to digest. Also, it confuses all the internal glands to produce digestive enzymes in large quantities. Finally, the stool created will act like a sponge that absorbs all the water around it.
Another example of foods bad for constipation is the combination of sugar with other types of food (like meat, cheese, fruits, and vegetables).
Because sugar is present in the food, the pancreas will secrete large quantities of insulin. This thing is necessary to fix the glucose into our tissues, muscles, and liver.
The problem is that combining sugar with other foods will make us gain weight and will slow down our intestinal transit. This thing is a major cause of constipation.
The reason is that sugar and flour require large quantities of water to digest. Also, the stool created will be harder to move towards evacuation.
One of the best ways to relieve constipation is to eat good foods and follow a diet. The diet should be rich in fiber and water. To clean the intestines, we should eat fruits only on an empty stomach. It also applies to green vegetables.
Vegetables are one of the best foods for constipation because they contain dietary fiber in large quantities, nutrients, and vitamins.
Fiber can be of 2 types:
Both types of fiber are essential to a proper intestinal transit and digestion. The assimilation of vitamins, nutrients, proteins, and essential fatty acids depends mainly on the types of combinations of food.
Vegetables have nutrients, vitamins, and proteins. They are essential to our metabolism and improve our transit. The best combination of foods should contain a ratio of:
- 50% vegetables
- 50% other types of food like meat, cheese, and whole flour bread
Vegetables that contain un-digestible fiber reduce the amount of glucose from other foods. This thing happens because un-digestible fiber doesn`t have any carbohydrates in its composition. Also, it makes sugary food stop absorbing large quantities of water.
All types of foods for constipation can be combined with vegetables in the 50% - 50% ratio. Meat, cheese, whole flour bread, whole rice, and potatoes, when combined with vegetables in this proportion, can digest properly.
Eating vegetables in the right way, in the right amount and with the proper combination of food is a simple and powerful way to deal with constipation.
The best things about vegetables are:
- they are low in glucose (low in sugar)
- they have un-digestible dietary fiber that helps move food in the intestines
- they clean the intestine walls and lining
- they contain essential proteins
- we can eat them with almost every type of food (meat, cheese, eggs, bread)
The problem with vegetables is that they lose large amounts of nutrients and vitamins when cooked, due to heat, due to frying in oil or boiled in water. Also, after boiling or frying them in oil, many vegetables turn their entire mass into starch, which is similar to glucose or sugar. Cooked vegetables lose most of the vitamins, proteins, and nutrients.
The best example is the carrot. A carrot has many vitamins, unnoticeable amounts of glucose, large amounts of fiber and some vegetable proteins. After boiling it in water, the entire mass of the carrot turns into starch that has the sweetness and sugary value higher than sugar alone.
This process is the reason why boiled carrots are sweet and raw carrots and not. In conclusion: carrots have to be eaten only raw, in salads or just as they are. Other vegetables that have the same result when cooked are potatoes (fried or boiled).
How to eat VEGETABLES the right way?
Vegetables have to be eaten only raw, just as they are, washed or peeled, in quantities that are similar to 50% vegetables – 50% other foods for constipation. The dietary fiber contained in vegetables help move foods blocked and glued to the intestinal walls, only if the amount of fiber is sufficient enough.
Vegetables improve digestion if they are eaten alone because:
- they help the intestinal lining regenerate
- they do not require many digestive enzymes produced by the liver and the pancreas
It` doesn`t matter the hour we eat vegetables because they have low glucose levels. Because of this, the pancreas won`t even notice them.
Vegetables help in losing weight because:
- they favor fast intestinal transit
- they don`t contain large amounts of glucose
- the proteins contained in them bring the optimal input required for your body
Fruits are one of the best foods for constipation because they contain large amounts of vitamins, nutrients, and fiber. Fruits help keep the colon clean and maintain the intestinal lining clean.
The difference between fruits and other types of food like vegetables is that: fruits have to be eaten alone and on an empty stomach (or empty intestines).
Fruits contain fructose, a carbohydrate similar to glucose that gives the sweet taste. Because of fructose, all fruits are digested quickly after eating them, in no more than 15 minutes.
The problem with fruits is that if they stay blocked in the intestines for more than 15 minutes, they start to ferment. Due to heat and humidity, the fermentation process disturbs digestion of other foods found in the intestines. It does harm by creating gas and sometimes alcohol, in the intestines.
Ptyalin is an enzyme that helps in the digestion of carbohydrates. The problem with fruits is that they destroy ptyalin whenever we combine them with other foods.
If carbohydrates do not digest properly and remain blocked in the intestines, fermentation will start. During fermentation, all the vitamins and nutrients will not be assimilated.
Therefore, eating fruits in the wrong way has bad consequences to digestion, constipation stage, and assimilation of vitamins.
How to eat FRUITS the right way?
To relieve constipation, we have to eat fruits only alone and on an empty stomach (or empty intestines). The perfect moments are:
- early in the morning, after waking up
- only after 4 hours from the last meal eaten
Fruits can be harmful to the entire digestion process if we don`t eat them the right way. The only way to eat fruit is on an empty stomach, early in the morning, or at least 4 hours after the last meal. This thing will make all intestines create a clear and fast path from the stomach to the large intestine.
In this way, we absorb all vitamins from fruit but also get the fiber from fruit that cleans the intestinal tissues and receptors. Also, fruits are heading towards the large intestine for elimination.
Eating fruits in the right way is an effective way to relieve constipation on long-term.
Whole flour is made out of unpeeled wheat. The process that lets the peel stay is beneficial for a healthy diet because the grain conserves its nutrients inside. This good food for constipation still has the dietary fiber that contains vitamins and proteins.
The white matter that comes after peeling the wheat is similar to starch. It only brings energy to our body after digestion. Therefore, whole flour bread is the only product that can help relieve constipation.
Whole rice is similar to whole flour. The same goes for the nutrients that are better with the peel. The difference between whole flour and whole rice is that rice is stickier than flour. This thing happens because rice is similar to a small sponge, that requires more water to digest.
Whole brown rice and whole dark rice, combined with other vegetables are foods good for constipation.
Milk is a natural source of protein, calcium and essential fats that are essential for our body. Also, it’s a source of calm before sleep if we drink a glass of warm milk before we go to bed.
Drinking milk is beneficial for relieving constipation because it makes the liver and the pancreas secrete digestive juices. This thing helps improve intestinal transit for short periods of time.
The problem with milk is that we have to drink milk alone and only on an empty stomach. The reason is that, if we combine it with other foods, it will create a protective film around them.
This thing confuses the glands to secrete enzymes and the entire digestion of foods. Fortunately, this does not apply to cheese products.
How to drink MILK the right way?
Milk is similar to fruit. We should drink milk only alone and on an empty stomach. In this way, our body absorbs proteins, calcium, and nutrients. We can drink milk as follows:
- early in the morning, after waking up
- only after 5 hours from the last meal eaten
- 30 minutes before going to sleep (but no more than 3 hours before our last meal)
This also applies to skimmed yogurt without added sugar. We should eat skimmed yogurt on an empty stomach for the proper assimilation of proteins and calcium.
Meat is one of the foods for constipation that can improve our digestion if we eat it in the right way but, it can also slow it down. Meat contains proteins (amino acids) and essential fatty acids that are crucial for our metabolism, internal organs, and the entire functioning of our body. Meat is vital to:
- the construction of tissues
- the replacement of cells, body mass, hair, nails, body fat, brain, muscles
- the proper functioning of our vital internal organs like our heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, stomach and the intestines
The problem with meat is that it takes at least 4 hours to digest after eating it. If we eat large quantities of meat, the entire digestion process will take from 4-6 hours. Also, after digestion, meat absorbs all the water present in the intestines.
Another problem is that if we eat meat alone, it will be hard to digest because of:
- lack of digestive enzymes from the liver and pancreas
- lack of muscle movement and constipation
- irritable bowel syndrome
Any other types of food besides vegetables (bread, potatoes, rice, corn, pasta, sweets, sugar, fires, fruit, flour products) that combine with meat causes:
- the bad assimilation of proteins
- a bad intestinal transit
- mixing meat with other foods will act like a sponge that absorbs water for digestion
All these symptoms make meat stay longer than 10 hours in our stomach which creates rotten (ropy) food in our intestines due to humidity and heat. This thing is the perfect recipe for severe constipation and intestinal cancer.
How to eat MEAT the right way?
Indigestible dietary fiber should be present in our meals in a ratio of at least 50% vegetables for 50% meat.
This thing helps move meat along the intestines for the assimilation of proteins and essential fatty acids and afterward for elimination.
The 50% RATIO of vegetables in our meal with meat is necessary because any quantity lower than 50% has little effect on the overall journey of the food. Essential fats and proteins are hard to digest without muscle movement and water. Without good intestinal transit, constipation will develop fast.
During the summertime, the ratio should be 60% vegetables – 40% meat. The reason is that during hot weather, our body is trying to keep the body temperature down. In this way, large quantities of water will be necessary to produce sweat.
Vegetables that have quality fiber: tomatoes, carrots, salad, broccoli, cabbage, parsley, cucumbers, celery, radishes, onions, garlic, peppers, paprika, mushrooms, pumpkins, green beans, kidney beans, cauliflower, asparagus, leek, peas, olives.
Cheese is one of the foods bad for constipation because:
- it is hard to digest because it contains proteins and fatty acids
- it absorbs large quantities of water in the intestines
Almost every type of cheese contains lactose which is similar to glucose but in low quantities.
The problem with cheese is that lactose is a substance that not everyone can digest properly, especially in elderly constipation. Because of its composition, it moves very hard in the intestines and acts like a sponge that absorbs all the water around.
Without water, fiber or muscle movements, cheese products stay blocked for many hours in the intestines, producing gas, pain, irritation and perturbing digestion.
How to eat CHEESE the right way?
A meal that contains cheese should keep the 50% vegetables – 50% cheese ratio, similar to meat. The reason is that dietary fiber doesn`t interfere with the assimilation of proteins and essential fatty acids and it helps the stool to move through the intestines without water.
Having vegetables in large quantities with cheese, it helps to keep the intestinal lining clean.
Vegetables that have consistent quantities of fiber: tomatoes, carrots, salad, broccoli, cabbage, parsley, cucumbers, celery, radishes, onions, garlic, peppers, paprika, mushrooms, pumpkins, green beans, kidney beans, cauliflower, asparagus, leek, peas, olives.
Wine is a type of food that contains alcohol. Its beneficial for our metabolism because it contains large amounts of antioxygen like polyphenol. Also, the famous French nutritionist Michel Montignac mentions in his books that wine prevents several types of cancer and prevents Alzheimer disease.
Wine can be beneficial for relieving constipation but only if consumed in small portions. It`s best to be consumed for no more than half of glass of wine every week, after a meal rich in fats. Large portions of wine will dehydrate us and will disturb digestion.
Oil made using the cold pressure technique is one of the best foods for constipation. Oil made from olives or sunflower seeds is the best oil to prepare food.
Oil should be consumed only with
Nutrients and essential fatty acids found in oil improve our intestinal transit. Also, it puts our liver to work and secrete hepatic bile. This thing improves digestion.
Oil eaten alone is not good for our liver. It makes us have a sickening feeling even when taking even half of the tablespoon.
FOODS TO AVOID
BREAD AND PASTA
Bread and pasta made from white flour are harmful foods for constipation because white flour does not contain any nutrients or fiber. It only contains starch that is identical to sugar and only delivers glucose for energy.
Also, when we mix bread, pasta or white flour with other types of food, it will disturb the digestion of the food eaten and slow down the intestinal transit.
When we constantly eat flour products our pancreas will secrete large amounts of insulin to fix the glucose. This fixation will create energy deposits all over our body. If not consumed, these deposits will transform into temporary fat cells.
White flour in any form (bun, bread, pizza dough, pasta, bakery, etc.) acts like glue on to our intestinal walls.
It will damage the intestinal lining because it absorbs all the water around the food. It also blocks the receptors that absorb nutrients and vitamins.
Foods based on white flour to avoid when dealing with constipation:
- Donuts (fried flour in vegetable oil, with sugar of course)
- White bread, burger buns, hot dog buns
- Cookies, biscuits, cakes, pancakes
- Bakery products, pastry
- Pizza dough
How to eat bread and pasta the right way?
Bread and pasta made out of whole flour can be eaten only with vegetables. Whole flour contains fiber necessary for good intestinal transit.
We should not eat white flour products because our body lost its ability to get the glucose needed from the fat deposits around our body.
We should avoid eating the following combinations of flour and sugar: pasta, white bread, biscuits, cookies, pancakes, crackers, chocolate cookies, sweets. These types of food do not help in any way intestinal movement.
Potatoes are similar to white flour and sugar. Eating potatoes cooked in different forms like fries or boiled potatoes is similar to eating sugar because the starch contained in them has high glucose levels.
The starch does not help constipation in any way. It only disturbs digestion and raises our sugar levels from the blood. This thing is a cause of diabetes and severe constipation.
White rice, sugar, and potatoes are all similar foods that are bad for constipation. The reason is that white peeled rice delivers a starch that has the same higher levels of glucose as sugar, white flour, and boiled potatoes.
There is no difference between these foods bad for constipation. The only thing is that white rice can be harmful because it acts like sticky glue.
Alcohol is a type of food bad for constipation that we must avoid. The reason is that it contains high levels of glucose similar to sugary carbonated drinks like Coca-Cola.
It forces the pancreas to secrete large amounts of insulin every time we have a drink.
Another problem with alcohol is that many drinks are carbonated, thus, damaging the intestinal lining with severe consequences over our intestinal transit.
Alcohol dehydrates our body quick. This thing happens because it requires large amounts of water to be absorbed.
ALCOHOL DRINKS TO AVOID WHEN DEALING WITH CONSTIPATION:
- Beer (the worst – it`s carbonated and has the highest levels of glucose in the form of maltose, out of any other drinks)
- Wine (should be avoided although it`s good, once in a while)
- Champagne (carbonated)
Drinks that contain large amounts of sugar and glucose are similar to alcohol drinks because it forces our pancreas to secrete large amounts of insulin.
This thing is one of the many causes of constipation. It does not help digestion, and it makes us gain weight (after glucose is fixed with the help of insulin, into our tissues and muscles, for energy reasons).
SUGARY DRINKS to avoid when dealing with constipation:
- Fuze, Honest tea, Mello Yello, Del Valle, Powerade
- Coca-Cola, Fanta, 7UP, Sprite, Pepsi, Mirinda
- Ice tea, Dr. Pepper, Lipton, Schweppes
- Mountain Dew, Red Bull, A&W drinks
BURGERS WITH FRIES
Meat is hard to digest, takes more time and when combined with the bun (made out of white flour with sugar) it only disturbs the overall digestion process. It makes it impossible for assimilating all the proteins and essential fatty acids from the meat. It`s a bad combination of foods for constipation. We need to avoid it as much as possible.
The fries, have the same effect of disturbing the digestion and act like sugar (forcing the pancreas to secrete insulin and gain weight). The sauces contained have added sugar. This combination of food is like eating 80% sugar and 20% meat.
The pizza dough is 9 out of 10 times made out of white flour (peeled white wheat). This thing is a problem because white flour is similar to sugar. Eating pizza will make the pancreas secrete insulin for long periods of time.
Pizza dough is rough. It`s also hard to digest. It acts like glue that sticks to the intestinal tissues. Not to mention, it requires large amounts of water to digest properly (only to get glucose for energy from it).
Another problem with pizza is that combined with cheese, oil and meat will create a hard and rough stool that will absorb all water in the intestines.
Also, it will be impossible to move the stool for elimination because, without fiber and water, the stool will stay blocked for hours and worst of all, for days when we suffer from a severe type of constipation.
HOT-DOGS, PASTA WITH SAUCE, NOODLES, CORN CEREALS, SANDWICHES, GYROS, TORTILLAS
These bad foods for constipation do not contain fiber. To have good intestinal transit, we need to have at least 50% vegetables in our meals.The lack of fiber makes the food eaten to stay blocked in the intestines for days.
The foods mentioned contain more than 70% white flour. They also contain rice, potatoes or starch.
The idea of having at least 50% main food and 50% vegetables (fiber) is worth taking into practice because it helps digestion and improves intestinal transit.
The lack of dietary fiber is one of the causes of constipation and colon cancer.
SUGAR, GLUCOSE, AND FRUCTOSE
Sugar is a chemical product that brings energy to our body. It does not contain any nutrients or vitamins. There is no reason considering sugar good in any way. Sugar does only harm to our general health.
But because sugar is sweet, it`s very often used in food to:
- change the taste
- replace the rotten taste
- preserve some foods for longer periods of time
- create addiction when possible – hyperinsulinism and diabetes
Sugar, glucose, and fructose are similar and can be found in nature or added by humans. They react in the same way in our digestion.
The problem with sugary foods and constipation is that sugar offers only energy in the form of glucose. After the pancreas secretes insulin, glucose will fix itself in different parts of our body. The reason is to give us energy.
Glucose will transform into a fat deposit if we don`t do any exercises. There we have it, the glucose will be stored as a fat deposit (men – belly, women – hips).
Also, because glucose is used mainly for heating our body, the process of cooling down certain parts of our body requires large quantities of water.
Therefore, we will become dehydrated whenever we eat sugar or foods that contain sugar or white flour.
In conclusion, sugar, glucose and white flour will only dehydrate us, make us addicted and will worsen our constipation symptoms.
BAKERY PRODUCTS, DONUTS, CAKES, PANCAKES, SWEETS, CANDY, ICE CREAM
We should avoid these bad foods for constipation because:
- they contain large amounts of sugar, glucose and white flour
- they contain vegetable fats like margarine or vegetable oil
- they require large amounts of water to be moved and digested
- they force the pancreas the secrete large amounts of insulin
- they contain preservatives
- they are hard to digest and hard to move in the intestines
- they are cooked in oil or fried in oil
Foods like sweets and candy contain only glucose (which is very bad). They do not contain fiber, vitamins or nutrients.
Chocolate that does not contain at least 80% cocoa is bad for us. The reason is that most of the time, the chocolate bar contains sugar, margarine, starch, some preservatives and a few drops of cocoa powder.
Chocolate acts in the same way as sweets, sugar or flour products. Because of the large quantities of margarine found, digestion will require large quantities of water.
FOODS, CONSTIPATION, AND EXAMPLES
Nutrition is an area that most of us avoid. We can say that nutrition and dieting are the most important things to consider when treating constipation.
Nutrition has it`s roles in our lives because what we eat determines our physical shape, our mental shape, and our overall health.
The problem with nutrition is that good food for constipation is not accessible. The reason is that fast food, junk food, and sugary food are easy to purchase and cheaper than healthy food.
This paradox we all live in, with food, affects us from the earlier ages.
Another problem with nutrition and dieting is that it doesn`t help us to lose weight. Even worse, sometimes it makes us gain weight due to the stagnating foods in the intestines that forces the pancreas to secrete insulin and to store energy deposits as fat deposits all over our body.
Also, another problem is that certain food types like fruit, create irritation and gas due to constipation, heat, and humidity in the intestines.
If we eat fruit that gets blocked in the intestines for more than 15 minutes this will happen:
- gas will appear
- fermentation will perturb digestion
- the intestinal lining and intestinal receptors will be irritated
For example, if the majority of the food we eat contains meat, flour, bread, potatoes, cheese rice, pizza dough and hard to digest food. Introducing fiber into our diet, for at least a percentage of 50% fiber and 50% food, can have a positive effect on constipation.
If the percentage of dietary fiber is lower than 50%, then the overall journey of food eaten slows down. In this way, constipation starts evolving.
Another example. Sugary and carbonated drinks like soda, coke, and beer contain lots of glucose and sugar that are bad for the intestines. Sugar and glucose need large quantities of water to digest and to fix in the blood cells after insulin secretion.
Eating foods bad for constipation and those few minor mistakes we make in our diet are constipation causes.
The lack of useful information about nutrition and how food digests, makes us suffer from symptoms like constipation or irritable bowel syndrome.
PROTEINS AND ESSENTIAL FAT ACIDS ARE VITAL FOR DIGESTION
The lack of proteins or essential fatty acids (usually found in fats) slows the metabolism and creates a nutritional deficiency. As a result, our body reacts in many negative ways because of this deficiency.
The first result is constipation.
Our body does not produce specific amino-acids related to growth and tissue regeneration. We have to assimilate them from animal proteins and meat.
Constipation is a symptom that can be considered a reaction of our body to the lack of nutrients or vitamins. A healthy body will help constipation if it gets the right amounts of proteins and vitamins.
Also, the internal organs need proteins and nutrients to work properly.
FOODS BAD FOR CONSTIPATION TO AVOID
These following types of bad foods for constipation to avoid immediately: white bread, sugar, glucose, cookies, pasta, rice, potatoes, fries, boiled potatoes, boiled carrots, sweets, sauces, ketchup (contains sugar), fried batter, pizza, pancakes, chocolate with less than 85% cocoa.
We should ban these drinks also: alcohol, beer, wine in large quantities, soda, coke, Pepsi, all carbonated sugary drinks, tequila, vodka and similar strong alcoholic drinks.
WHY SHOULD WE AVOID EAT THESE FOODS?
The bad foods for constipation mentioned above contain sugar and glucose in large quantities.
Here are other reasons to avoid them:
- they require large quantities of water to digest
- they require large quantities of enzymes to digest
- they stick like glue to the intestinal walls
- they ferment due to heat and humidity in the intestines
- they damage the intestinal lining with gas, glucose, and fermentation
- the lack of dietary fiber forces the foods to stay blocked for long periods of time that creates intestinal bowel syndrome and ropy food (rotten food)
- it`s the starting point for colon cancer (growing intestinal polyps)
- they force the pancreas to secrete large quantities of insulin for long periods of time, even with blocked sugary foods in the intestines
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Sebastian D., and I am the senior editor of constipationguide.com. With the help of my mentor, Dr. Horia Marculescu, I decided to create a practical guide to constipation relief.. read more