Constipation is not something that most people like to talk about – though almost everyone will experience at one time or another in their lives. And while an occasional bout of constipation is not going to do any serious damage, if this condition becomes chronic, it’s another matter. People who have fewer than three bowel movements a week or have difficulty passing stools are putting themselves at a much higher risk for colon cancer, which is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of this disease in America today. Most people have been told that drinking more fluid and getting more fiber in their diet in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain products like oatmeal or bran cereal. What many people do not realize, however, is that there are some common foods which can cause constipation, such as the ones listed below.
Everyone loves dairy! The problem is that if this is consumed in high amounts – and not with fiber-rich foods – the result can be a high-fat, low fiber diet that is a perfect recipe for constipation! If you do consume dairy, make sure to consume it with a high-fiber food. A cheese sandwich with whole-wheat bread or a fruit-and-cheese plate are great examples.
Potato chips seems to be a staple in the American diet. However, they are also a great example of a low-fiber, high fat food which can easily cause constipation. Try substituting chips a few times a week with fresh veggies and dip for a snack or as a side at lunch. It will help to keep fiber intake high and greatly lower risk of colon cancer.
Red meat is not bad in and of itself – but it is a dense, low-fiber, hard-to-digest food that can cause constipation, especially in those who already have a tendency towards sluggish digestion to begin with. While it isn’t necessary to eliminate it from the diet, at least cut back to once or twice a week. Studies have shown that lower red meat consumption also reduces colon cancer risk.
Bananas are the notable exception to the “eat plenty of fresh fruits” rule for treating constipation! They are in fact a part of the BRAT diet, which is used for people with chronic diarrhea to slow down their bowel movements! However, ripeness is the key. If constipation is an issue, choose only very ripe bananas to eat as they tend to be less constipating that green or under-ripe bananas.
There is no need to entirely cut out any of the above foods from the diet. It is simply a matter of cutting back on them and making sure that there are plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and whole grain products to fill up the plate that will provide the fiber the digestive tract needs to do its job!
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